Xuanzang gives an elaborate description of monasteries, the stupa to mark death of Hansa (Swan) and about the cave where Buddha answered the questions of Sakra, lord of gods. There are references in Pali literature about the south facing cave not far from a Brahmin village Ambasanda (Pali proper name dictionary). The modern Apsadh is 1 mile south east of the isolated hill at Parwati (25° 05’ 07 N, 85° 39’ 04 E).
|The Mound of the Hansa (swan) Stupa on the hill as mentioned by Xuanzang|
|South Facing Cave with The Stupa mound to its East|
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The first reported identification of Indrasaila guha was done by Kittoe in 1847. His assistants reached 9 Yojan SE from Pataliputra at Bari Pahari, Bihar Sharif (25° 30’ 14 N, 85° 12’ 16 E), also an isolated hill and mistook it as Indrasaila guha.
Later general Cunningham (Annual Report of ASI, Vol-1, P-16-20 ) identified the Giddhdwar, a cave at the southern face of Giriyak hill (25° 01’ 28 N, 85° 30’ 51 E) as the Indrasaila guha. Though the details given by Xuanzang and Fahien were not supporting his decision he manipulated the data to help him support his conclusion. “GIRIYAK”, as etymologically described by Cunningham is Giri + ek, Giri= mountain, Ek= one, which he concluded same as isolated hill. He further corroborated the direction mentioned by Fahien and Xuanzang to suit his identification. Xuanzang took 58Li touching 4 different places in different direction and finally reaching Indrasaila guha SE of Nalanda. Giddhdwar was also SE of Nalanda but was more south than the Parwati-Indrasaila Guha. Cunningham also took 58Li, but he took single leg in one direction instead 4 in 4 different directions. He identified a wrong place as Indrasaila guha.
According to the local legend there existed a fissure link between the Giddhdwar and top of the Giriyak hill where according to the Cunningham was the Hansa stupa and monastery as mentioned by Xuanzang.
Broadley(The Buddhist Remains of Bihar by A.M. Broadley, P-53) also took an attempt for identifying the Indrasaila guha; he said same as Cunningham did few years before. Broadley took his leg from Chandi-Mau, Sariputra birthplace as per him. Broadley took a close look at the fissure and found that the fissure was not connected with top of the hill as per the local legend.
Cunningham, Broadley, Beglar and Bloch visited the Parwati isolated hill and the cave. They associated the hill with the Pigeon monastery mentioned by Xuanzang which is actually further east.
Summary table(Indrasaila Guha)
|The Isolated hill of Biharsharif wrongly identified as Indrasaila Guha by Maj. Kittoe|
|The True site of Indrasaila Guha at Parwati|
|Indrasaila Guha identified by Cunningham that was found to be a wrong identification|
|Giriyak Hill the wrong identification of Indrasaila Guha done by Broadley and Cunningham|