|"Baladitya Mound", Telhada-- Excavation in progress|
Magadha in 1st millennia CE had many
Monasteries where the monks and scholars from China,
Korea, Ceylon, Sumatra
and other Central Asian and South-East Asian countries would come to collect
true teachings of the Buddha. villages of Magadha
are replete with ancient remains of this glorious past. Except for Ancient Nalanda University
all the ancient monasteries are still buried under the layers of biomass.
Chinese monk-scholar Xuanzang’s (7th CE) description of Ancient Nalanda University
was so compelling that Sir. A. Cunningham and other orientalists in 19th and early
20th Century opened the mounds of Bargaon to reveal the remains of Ancient Nalanda University
for the world to see.
Another monastery in Magadha where Ven. Xuanzang made a
brief stay and speaks highly of was the Teladhaka Monastery. Research and
study based on Xuanzang description have confirmed that present Telhada (telhara) is actually settled over the remains of ancient Teladhaka Monastery.
Cunningham (1862), Broadley (1872),
Beglar and others visited the site and all of them mention about a 40 ft high mound at the
west end of the village. Broadley reported that he was told images of metal and
stone were constantly found during digging of graves. Although he was unable to
secure any examples of such imagery at the east end of village there still
stands a ruined mosque. This contained pillars recycled from other buildings
and an inscription mentioning name “Teladhaka”.
Chief Minster of Bihar was appraised about
rich antiquity of Telhada. At the instance of Hon’ Chief Minister Shri Nitish Kumar
Ji the excavation of “Baladitya Mound” of Telhada started in Dec 2009.
Read More-Chief Minister Shri Nitish Kumar Ji at Telhada
|Dr. Atul Verma , Asst. Director, Department of Archaeology, Government of Bihar is Incharge of the Site|
|Several trenches all over and around the Mound|
Xuanzang's Description of Teldhaka Monastery
building has four halls, belvederes of three stages, high towers, connected at
intervals with double gates that open inwards. It was built by the last
descendant of Bimbisara- raja. He made much of high talent and exalted the
virtuous, learned men from different cites and scholars from distant countries
flock together in crowds, and reaching so far, abide in the sangharama. There
are 1000 priests in it who study the great vehicle. In the road facing the
middle gate there are three viharas above which are placed the connected
succession of metal rings with bells suspended in the air; below they are
constructed story above story, from the bottom to the top. They are surrounded
by the railings, and the doors, windows, the pillars, beams and staircases are
all carved with gilt copper in relief, and in the intervals highly decorated.
The middle vihãras contains an erect image of Buddha about thirty feet high. On
the left is an image of Tara bodhisattva on
the right, one of the Avlokietswar bodhisattva. Each of these images is made of
metallic stones; their spiritually composed appearance inspires a mysterious
awe, and their influence is felt from far.
|A floor from gupta period is revealed|
|Different Layers and the ancient Wall|
A long Gupta period (4th-6th CE) floor running all across the mound has been revealed by different trenches. Over the Gupta floor there is debris of 5.5Ft running all around covered with Pala (8th-12th CE) floor. Dr. Verma said that the excavation is in very nascent stage to draw any conclusion but the antiquities found in the course of excavation is very revealing and unique. The Gupta period wall is 6ft broad and a Pala wall is running over it all over.
|Wall with lime pilaster|
Telhada is a very promising site is also evident from the Xuanzang's description and its rich antiquties is also reported by Broadley and Cunningham in 1870's. Telhada needs more excavations at different corners of the village to reveal the complete picture. The village is settled over the mound and villagers have often reported about discovering sculptures in course of removing earth.
Sculptures found during the excavation:
Telhada is one of the richest sites as far as the sculptures are concerned. Lots of sculptures collected from Telhada by Cunningham, Beglar and Broadley have been placed at National Museum Calcutta (now Kolkotta) and Patna Museum. Many of the best sculptures are presently in private collections in Europe and America.
Many sculptures of all sizes have been found in different layers during excavations. One of the unique find is a broken rectangular panel with detail inscription.
One of the biggest challenges shall be conservation of the exposed site. For lack of conservation we have already lost the Gupta period Murals of Temple no 3 (Nalanda) and the colourful murals from Pala period at the Sarai Mound (Nalanda).
This inscription from late Pala (10th CE) is unique because the donor (of the Inscribed slab) has urged to protect the Monastery/ temple and has used very disparaging word for anybody who tries to do any harm to the establishment.
|Shri Atul Verma and Awadhesh kumar by the broken rectangular panel with inscription|
|A closer view of the rectangular slab with Pala period inscription|
|The Slab with inscription....|
|A 5ft long panel with Buddha in different postures..|
|Lots of broken sculptures with inscription hase been found|
|Dr Verma and Village head, Shri Awadhesh Kumar...with a bowl from found from excavation|
|More than 30 trences have already being taken..|
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Could you exactly locate the excavation site (lat, lang)? I could locate Telhara village on google maps but failed to find any excavation site around. Thanks.
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