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Old 4th June 2009, 21:07   #61
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Thank you @manavdotcom, @pjay_in, and @pradster

Originally Posted by manavdotcom View Post
Have never seen such Pictures of BIHAR !
Please stay connected. The travelogue is soon reaching Patna and that would be another story.

Originally Posted by pjay_in View Post
Never knew there was so much history to be seen and experienced in Bihar.
Magadh is just one region of Bihar. There are two two more logical regions that can be explored.
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Old 5th June 2009, 08:50   #62
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But of course.. the name Bihar is from Vihar which means monastery isn't it.
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Old 5th June 2009, 09:16   #63
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Im speechless.Such a
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Old 5th June 2009, 09:17   #64
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Im speechless.Such a discovery of heritage and culture.Truly enlightening
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Old 5th June 2009, 09:22   #65
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Vaishali – II

We then left for Mahavira’s birth place. It is around 4-5 kilometers from Kolhua.

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The place you see has been identified as where Mahavira was born. Now it looks like any other farm but Mahavira stayed here for first 22 years of his life before leaving in spiritual pursuit. You can also see that soon there would be a temple here and it will look like this.
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This model has been prepared by a young girl in Delhi.

There are Litchee trees inside.
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We then leave for Chaturmukh Mahadev temple.

Roads that we were traveling were like this.
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Ancient Vaishali is believed to have 4 gates and all the 4 gates were marked by Chaturmukh Mahadev. This idol of Chaturmukh Mahadev has been discovered while digging a well some 3 decades ago and is believed to be part of one of the 4 gates. It gives one an indication on how history lies buried in this area. I am told that even after trying everything (including the government authorities) they couldn’t move the idol by even a inch. It is not known how deep the idol runs in the ground. So the authorities gave up and have decided to build a temple which even after three decades is still under construction. This is Bihar.

You will be shocked to see something like this suddenly appearing on the street.
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Then our hotel manager informs us that next we will visit an archaeological site named as Raja Vishal ka Garh. Please read this information.
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Remains of a palace, first phase of which was constructed before 600 BCE; I mean this is something. Pictures don’t do any justice to this site. And it will require careful observation to make any sense.
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Although the fenced area is limited, but the no construction activity is allowed on several acres of land. This is a huge mound and the excavation has been done on just 2% of the actual mound.
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We then leave for last monument at Vaishali – Bawan Pokhar. Although the temple here is less then mediocore, it and the adjacent lake have given historians many excavated discoveries to ponder over. The 7th century CE Chinese pilgrim traveler writes in awe about this temple. Which indicates that the temple may have been built during the Gupta or immediate post Gupta period.

As I try to photograph the temple, children kept lining up for a click. I actually saw some mothers quickly changing clothes of their dear ones for the click. My sincere wishes: God bless them all.
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A lake full of discoveries
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It was 6:30 pm when we reached our hotel. The hotel manager had already arranged fresh vegetables for the dinner. But looking at the room condition, we were in no mood to stay back tonight. I quickly enquired room availability at Kautilya Vihar at Patna and they had rooms available. We shared our thoughts with the hotel manager and post quick refreshments left for Patna.

Note: There are no other hotels in Vaishali except the government run hotel Amrapali. So if you are visiting Vaishali plan in a way that it doesn't require overnight stay. The nearest places where you can find decent stay are Patna, towards south east and Muzaffarpur, towards north east (both are about the same distance from Vaishali). Muzaffarpur is celebrated for its world famous Litchees.

We reached Patna at around 9:00 pm. We will be in Patna for two nights and two days.

To be continued…
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Old 5th June 2009, 10:25   #66
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Although today seems to be a a busy day, I am planning to post concluding few posts from my two day stay in Patna in a few hours. Please stay connected.

Originally Posted by pjay_in View Post
But of course.. the name Bihar is from Vihar which means monastery isn't it.
You are absolutely correct. When the first Turks started invading this region in late 11th and early 12th centuries, they were dumb struck with so many monasteries or viharas and named the region as Vihar. The name Bihar is continuation to that.

The region of viharas belongs to south Bihar. The present day state of Bihar includes two additional regions - Mithila towards North East and Purvanchal towards North West (if I have understood correctly from my chats with the local populace).

Originally Posted by hillram View Post
Im speechless.Such a discovery of heritage and culture.Truly enlightening
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Old 5th June 2009, 13:32   #67
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Pataliputra – I

It was late morning when we started from our hotel. This is going to be a different journey. For next two days, we will be wandering the lanes and by-lanes of Patna like there is no other purpose in our life but to discover Patna; just for the sake of it. Perhaps at the end of it some of you may feel what the heck we were up to.

As I like to put it, in our case two books immensely helped our stay at Patna.
  1. “Patna Through the Ages” by Qeyamuddin Ahmad. But Qeyamuddin Ahmad is only the editor. The book is actually a collection of essays written by various scholars of Patna University from the History departemnet. The essays cover the history of Patna from very ancient times till Independence. If you are to believe me, this book is a must. Excellent work.
  2. “History of Magadh” by L.S.S. Omalley. This is a old school book but has good information about the Magadh region as a whole.
Some facts to ponder…
  1. As you all by now know that Pataliputra was established by Ajatsatru in 6th century BCE. That’s when the first fortification was undertaken.
  2. Ashoka, the most legendary king in Indian History ruled from Pataliputra and the epigraphic records left by him are one of the earliest records in India.
  3. Ashoka left thousands of edicts (only 150 have been discovered so far) all over India. The text for each of his edicts was scripted at Pataliputra before they were sent to the respective locations for engraving.
  4. Some of the scholars who flourished in Pataliputra include
    • Patanjali (2nd century BCE) who gave as the original Yoga Sutra and wrote the famous commentary on Panini’s Ashtadhyayi – Mahabhasya.
    • Acharya Umaswati (2nd century BCE), the most famous Jaina teacher and author of Tattvartha Sutra.
    • Aryabhatta (5th century CE) is considered to be world’s first mathematician-astronomer.
    • The 3rd Buddhist council was held at Pataliputra.
    • Pataliputra was the trade capital of India for a long long time. Buddha once said (it’s recorded in Digha Nikaya): as far as Aryans dwell and as far as the merchants travel, Pataliputra will be the foremost city.
    • Megasthenes, the Greek emperor in the Mauryan court, describes Pataliputra as having mostly wooden structures. Even today the carpenters from Bihar are much valued for their craftsmanship.
    • After 6th century CE, Pataliputra lost all its glory and remained in oblivion for almost a millennium. In 16th century CE, Sher Shah Suri got struck by the strategic location of this place and revived it. As we see the modern day Patna it is the continuation of this revival.

Note: Although having such a rich ancient heritage, most of it today is just of academic interest. Many mohallas in the city of modern Patna are sitting on the heritage making it impossible to discover. It is only the finds from early and middle 20th century that make the body of findings. Or adhoc finds that come to light while carrying normal construction activities. The ancient Pataliputra can be found in the museums or else lies buried. Today, the city of Patna dots a large number of mosques and dargahs belonging to medieval period.

I am quoting Late Syed Hasan Askari: "Those who travel on foot, on bicycles and rickshaws on the main road called Ashok Raj Path, running roughly from Bans Ghat to Purab Darwaza, could not but be struck, with their experience of the undulating, waving, curving, high and low level of certain spots, area and space. They may surmise that some parts of old city lie buried below the highly raised grounds of modern Patna."

Unfortunately I have lost some 50 pictures; deleted them inadvertently while transferring. So there are no pictures for places that we visit in first half of day.

Our first stop was Patna Museum. And let me tell you this that I have not seen any more intriguing place in my whole life. Visiting Patna Museum should be on you must visit list (even if it means skipping couple of pilgrimages or those exotic holiday plans). The 6 feel tall Chauri Bearer, excavated from Kumrahar belonging to Ashoka’s period (3rd century BCE), is most beautiful lady you will ever see. Then there’s Shalbhanjika from 2nd century BCE, equally hypnotizing. And then the whole saga unfolds. The museum has various sections for stone images, bronze images, paintings, terracotta, and couple of more that I am unable to recall. There’s also a chariot wheel made of wood that is believed to be from Mauryan period. This is a marvelous place.

We enquire for Buddha’s ashes and are informed that we have to take a special (additional) 100 rupee ticket (per head) to visit that chamber. But as we get down there’s chaos. I am surprised to see our Ex Chief Election Commissioner – N. Gopalaswami (I think he had handed over the charge to Navin Chawla on 20th April and we were at the museum on 29th April). He was happily clicking images of the museum artifacts with his Nokia cell phone. When the public is not allowed to take pictures, this is really setting a bad example. However due to chaotic security, we decided to give a miss to Buddha’s ashes.

I am missing the pictures of exquisitely carved wooden doorway that is placed just opposite to the museum entrance. If you believe me, you will never see something so beautiful anywhere else.

We continue our journey and reach Patna Sahib Gurudwara. The Patna Sahib Gurudwara is built where Gobind Rai was born to 9th Sikh Guru, Teg Bahadur and his wife Mata Gujri in the year 1666. He later went on to become 10th Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh and established Khalsa.

This Gurudwara, owing to its location will be central to our excursions, today and tomorrow.
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The map above outlines the places that we have decided to visit. And the red square marks the area that would have been the ancient city of Pataliputra. We are spending both our days in what locals call Patna City. The road running parallel to the river Ganges is Ashok Raj Path and is central to the city. In this journey, our main guide was the essay written by illustrious historian Late Syed Hasan Askari.

After the darshan at Gurudwara, we started scouting for a tricycle. And we found our guy in Mohammed Sami. He is a great guy and was an absolute delight, today and tomorrow.
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We first visited Mirza Masum mosque. It was constructed in 1616 CE. Here we met with an elderly gentlemen, who is the maulvi and the caretaker of this mosque. We spoke to him at length about the places we want to visit. He was extremely courteous. He also informs us that Syed Hasan Askari was a regular visitor to this mosque and his team of students will spend whole day scratching their head over the History of Patna. His grand daughter has just cleared her engineering entrance and is joining the college in this session. She offered us water and refreshments.

No pictures yet.

The mosque is in front of the Pachim Darwaza that marks the west entrance of the ancient city. The entrance of the mosque has a black stone doorway, beautifully carved, taken from some Hindu temple.

Then we visit Badi Pattan Devi temple. It’s a small but beautiful temple. The bronze lions are life size and vivacious. However as it stands today, it is not the original location of the historic Pattan Devi temple.

My library has pictures from while we were just leaving the Badi Pattan Devi temple.
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Look at the beautifully carved wooden door
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After a quick darshan we then reached Pathar ki Masjid. This is first mosque built during the Mughal period. It was built in 1626 by a Pathan commander (Muhammad Nazar Khan Khweshgi) of Parvez Shah, son of Mughal emperor Jehangir.

This is how it exists today on Ashok Raj Path…
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We then move to Shah Arzan’s dargah and mosque. Shah Arzan belonged to North West Frontier and his dargah is much revered by local populace. He died in 1618 CE.
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As you can see the dargah is on a high mound. Historians believe that the dargah has been built over site of Buddhist stupa and/or monastery. To quote Syed Hasan Askari – "the Muslim Darweshes chose hilly or high ground which really Buddhist stupas so as to be free for their ecstatic and spiritual exercises."
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There was a small commotion at the dargah as they didn’t knew what to do with unexpected tourists. But better sense prevailed and we were even offered Tabaruk.
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We then reach Agam Kuan. This is the unfathomable well that Ashoka built to torture/punish mischief makers and other criminals.
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Today, Shitala Mata temple stands adjacent to Agam Kuan.
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We were then on our way to Choti Pattan Devi temple. The crowded streets of Patna City are a delight to experience in a tricycle. You will find a samosa/jalebi vendor at almost every nook and corner.
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We come across a Kali Mata temple that had a beautifully carved wooden door. I am not sure if you can make out the minute carvings on centuries old wooden door.
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I don’t have any pictures of Choti Pattan Devi temple.

Finally we reached back to Gurudwara at 7:45pm. Our driver was almost dead waiting for us. He still doesn’t understand what we are up to. He is just waiting for the tour to get over so that he can get rid of us – the mad duo.
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We reached our hotel at around 9:00pm. I lost my cell phone today. Anyways, we retire for a good night’s sleep.

To be continued...
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Old 5th June 2009, 16:13   #68
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Pataliputra – II

Today is last day of our truly enlightening trip. We start our day early at around 8:30am. We have promised to meet Mohammed Sami at the Patna Sahib Gurudwara at 9:00am.

The first mosque on our agenda today is Sher Shah’s mosque. It is among the oldest surviving mosques in the city and was built Sher Shah Suri in 1540 CE to celebrate his victory over the Mughal emperor Humayun.

The approach road
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It has five gumbajs. Of the original mosque two gumbaj were destroyed over time but have been rebuilt now.
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This young guy is the son of the care taker of this mosque who is also teh maulvi here. He is quite unhappy as the new tourist literature published by Bihar government doesn’t mention this mosque at all. He is pursuing a networking course and is keen on finding a good job.
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Most of the old Patna City has this kind of open drainage. I am in awe by the dirty garbage filled lanes and am still wondering how people manage to stay at these places.
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Next two hours we spent in locating Buzurg Ummed Khan mosque. As per the historians the mosque stands at the site of Ajatsatru’s first fort. Unfortunately we couldn’t locate the mosque. However we met a maulvi of a local mosque who has promised to share additional information with us. It reminds me that I need to call him soon.
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Can you see that beautifully carved balcony?
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It's afternoon and we return to the Gurudwara, bid good bye to Sami and leave for our hotel. It On our way back we decide to stop at the jeweler’s shop where we had stopped yesterday night. I have a feeling that I left my cell phone at this shop. Thanks to Shah Arzan, I found my cell phone back. For some reason, in my heart, I had challenged Shah Arzan for my lost cell phone. So if you ask me, you should surely visit this dargah as Shah Arzan has the powers to answer your wishes.

After the lunch, we checked out of our hotel and loaded the luggage in the car. We are visiting Kumrahar before going to the railway station. I have read so much about the famed 80 pillared Ashokan hall excavated here. Additionally the site has given many finds to the Patna museum.

The first thing of interest at the site is a small museum. It has some rare pictures of WIP excavation.
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As I see these pictures my excitement kept mounting to see the actual site.

The board…
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The board says that the hall was on the banks of river Son. Today this river flows 40 kilometers on the west of this site and here there’s spiraling population all around.
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And welcome to the 80 pillared hall.
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Where is it?

Not able to maintain the site, they have filled back the site so that the remains remain safe. I am not sure if I understand this. Temporary arrangement, yes, but if this is the state of affairs after almost 100 years of actual excavation, it is really painful. This has been the greatest anticlimaxes of my life.

If this helps, they have kept an excavated pillar for display.
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The Kumrahar site otherwise is just a garden. It may have a lot of things to say but all buried.

Towards south of the site, there are remains of a monastery cum hospital center which was run by the famous physician Dhanavantari of Gupta period.
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Finally we arrive at the railway station.
There is this beautiful Hanuman temple at the railway station.
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It is a huge and has with multiple levels; each level dedicated to particular activity like bhajans, havan, etc.

At second level, they were setting the stage for evening bhajan sandhya
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You can see some nice wood work
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It is crowded yet pleasant.
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Patna railway station as seen from the 2nd level of the temple
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Let me close this travelogue at the same place where I started. This picture is also taken from the 2nd level of the Hanuman temple and is of the cross just outside the railway station. Pataliputra for you…
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We boarded the Sanghamitra Express to Bangalore leaving behind the fantastic and colossal kingdom of Magadh. I intend to go back. There’s a lot to be discovered and enjoyed.

I hope all of you enjoyed this trip of Magadh as well. Thank you for staying with this travelogue for so long.


Last edited by akbaree : 5th June 2009 at 16:20.
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Old 5th June 2009, 16:38   #69
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Absolutely beautiful thread & stunning pictures
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Old 5th June 2009, 17:50   #70
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I have learned a lot today.

Thanks for a great insight into our past.
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Old 8th June 2009, 10:49   #71
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Thanks @breezydrive, @Sptifire.
I myself learned so much on this trip. I am happy that you found this thread useful.

Originally Posted by breezydrive View Post
Absolutely beautiful thread & stunning pictures

Originally Posted by Spitfire View Post
I have learned a lot today.

Thanks for a great insight into our past.
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Old 8th June 2009, 11:43   #72
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You deserve a standing ovation my friend. That was one great educational trip for many of us.
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Old 16th April 2010, 13:45   #73
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Amazing. Really loved the photos and the log. Thanks for sharing. Really appreciated the rigour, hardwork and knowledge being shared.

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Old 16th April 2010, 17:24   #74
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A great tour undertaken by you and very neatly narrated to us backed by sharing some wonderful snaps and facts about each of the locations. I really liked the way you went around explaining each of place by giving more details about the history and then linking them with the photos.

I am not sure how many of us will really be able to do this circuit but you have already shown us the history of Maghadh. I thank you whole heartedly for sharing this experience with us.

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Old 16th April 2010, 17:53   #75
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Akbaree, a superb travelogue. Thanks so much for sharing your travels with us. Amazing photographs and narration.

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