Located 252 kms from Patna, in the district of Bhagalpur, is the site of an ancient University, Vikramshila. The university was founded by king Dharmpala, in late 8th century AD.
44 Kms east of Bhagalpur, the remains of the Vikramshila University, the medievial centre to the conservation and propagation of Buddhist education, is still a visual delight for visitors.The institution covers an approximate area of four square kilometers, spread across two villages -Bateshwar Sthan (Pather Ghatta) and Antichak.
Notwithstanding the current neglected condition, the remains are an exquisite depiction of the glory of Bihar in medieval times. This University, which excelled in the field of education and science, studies in Tantra & teachings in Buddhism., was established by King Dharampal of Bengal (783 to 820 AD) during the fag end of the eighth century. At the time, the charm of the Nalanda University, another ancient Buddhist educational institution, was waning. Vikaramshila University’s highest adminstrative post was that of the President and one such President Dipankar Acharya Ateesh, was famous the world over for his knowledge in the field of Buddhist Philosophy. In order to be admitted, the students had to satisfactorily answer all queries of the teacher present at all the six main gates. These teachers were called Dwar-Pandits.
Till 39 years back, historians were kept guessing about the old University, lying beneath the soil. While Cunningham thought that it could be found anywhere around Silao near Patna, Dr. S. C. Vidyabhushan imagined its existance somewhere near Sultanganj – about 22 km west from Bhagalpur city. Francis Buchanan, in the accounts of his tour of Bhagalpur around 1810 and 1811, had referred to the presence of a few small mounds around Pather-Ghatta which he assumed were the remains of a few fortresses. C.F.A.W. Oldham, while editing Buchanan’s diary, for the first time suggested that these mounds might belong to the Vikaramshila University. Excavation started at the site in 1961 which continued till 1980, under the supervision of Union Govt. and the History Department of the Patna University. The digging took place over 125 acres and in 1972 the work was handed over to the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). In 1981, the excavation was given up due to financial crunch.
After flourishing for years, it was plundered by invaders around 1200 AD.
As one descend down the excavation site, one would find the remains of Tibetan dormitory, built on a 60 feet wide platform. This dormitory is being further destroyed due to the alkalisation of the bricks. Two of its columns have already been damaged. Adjacent to it lies the meditation house which is in complete ruins, surrounded by overgrown grass and thick layers of dust. The terracotta on its wall is also decaying.
The soil around three of its main entrances is still to be dug out. The 60-feet high Stupa is built on a 300-feet wide platform. More than 300 terracotta figurines were fixed around this Stupa. The excavation of the Hostels around it remains incomplete.
The site covers a very extensive area dotted with carved pillars, votive stupas and mounds with ruins. Close by are the Rajmahal Hills and Pathar Ghat, famous for their Jurassic Age rocks and natural fossils. This place is ideal for Eco-Tourism development.
The residual portion of the temple and the stupas of Bikramsila Mahavihar not only signals the socio-religious life of the age but also the superior craftsmanship in brick, stone and earth.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air : The nearest Airport is Patna (291 Kms).
Rail : The nearest Railway station is Khalgaon.
Road: 281 Kms from Gaya, 291 Kms from Patna, 391 Kms from Motihari, 308 Kms from Muzaffarpur, 245 Kms from Biharsharif, 310 Kms from Bodhgaya
WHERE TO STAY
Private hotels, Dharamshalas available at Motihari on moderate charges
King Dharampal of Bengal
Temperature (deg C)
Summer – Max 40.9, Min 23
Winter – Max 27.7, Min 7.4
October to February
Wheat, Rice, Maize, Gram,Potato, Sugarcane,
Angika, Hindi, English
Tourist Information Centre Government of Bihar
Khandsari & Gur,Handloom, Papad, Soap, Pickles.
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