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When will Vikramshila University ruins get due attention?

When will Vikramshila University ruins get due attention?


Vikramshila remains

Patna: according to recent reports, the Archaeological Survey of India’s Patna circle has decided to give its long overdue attention to the conservation of the Vikramshila university ruins, located near Antichak village in the Kahalgaon sub-division of Bhagalpur district, about 150 km from Patna. Vikramshila university was set up in the 8th century by the Pala dynasty king Dharmapala and its remains have been lying in a state of neglect for decades. ASI Patna’s superintending archaeologist Sanjay K. Manjul told the press ‘the ASI is serious about conservation of the entire excavated structure of Vikramshila like of Nalanda university.’

The Patna circle of the ASI has now sent a conservation plan to the director general of ASI for approval and after approval will launch the conservation plan. This would mean conservation of the 52 shells or reading room-like structures adjoining the main stupa The ASI’s conservation plan comes in the wake of the Bihar government’s move to develop Vikramshila’s ruins as a tourist destination like Nalanda. Vikramshila university, set up by the Pala dynasty (750-1174 A.D) king Dharmapala in the late 8th or early 9th century, was intended to complement the existing world-class universities at Nalanda and Takshila. It lasted four centuries before it was destroyed during an attack on local kingdoms by Bakhtiyar Khilji of the Delhi Sultanate. The remains at Antichak were excavated by B.P. Sinha of Patna University during 1960-69.

Remains from the Vikramashila site include large number of terra cotta plaques representing Buddhist and Brahmanical deities, animal and bird figurines and stone images of gods and goddesses. A few small bronzes of Buddhist deities like the Buddha, Maitreya, Vajrapani, Avalokitesvara and Manjusri have also been found. The bulk of antiquities comprise stone, iron, copper, silver and bronze objects, including a few silver and copper coins.

A local body Vikramshila Nagarik Samiti formed by the citizens has been demanding the development of the site along the pattern of Nalanda so Vikramshila be included in the state’s Buddhist tourist circuit for its development. Since Vikramshila belongs to a later period of history, further excavation at the site are very likely to reveal new information on the waning days of Buddhism and complete the picture of rise and decline of the Buddhist religion in the region.  In addition, the nearby Dolphin conservation site at Kahalgaon may provide an added attraction for the tourists which make a fine tourism comprising nature tourism, religious pilgrimage and history.

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