World's tallest Buddhist Stupa discovered in Bihar
The Times of India News Service
PATNA: Historical importance of Bihar has been established again with the discovery of "biggest ever Buddhist Stupa" at Kesariya in East Champaran district, about 120 km from here on the Indo-Nepal border. A team of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials has discovered the stupa. Superintending archaeologist of the Patna circle of the ASI Muhammed K K, who led the team, said that Bihar "has the proud privilege of housing the tallest ever excavated stupa in the world."
According to Muhammed, the conservation of Kesariya Stupa is a turning point in the history of conservation in India. The ASI has conserved the site in a befitting manner after its excavation and has decided to acquire the surrounding area to develop it into a tourist spot.
Earlier, the ASI team did not realise that the excavated stupa would be the tallest and largest stupa in the world. Rising to a height of 104 feet and much reduced than its original height, it is one feet taller than the famous Borobodur Stupa in Java, a world heritage monument. The Kesariya Stupa was 123-feet tall before the 1934 earthquake in Bihar. In the halcyon days when Buddhism thrived in India, the Kesariya Stupa was 150-feet and Borobodur stupa 138-feet tall. At present, the height of Kesariya is reduced to 104 feet and Borobodur to 103 feet. The height of Sanchi Stupa, a world heritage monument, is 77.50 feet, almost half of Kesariya Stupa's original height. Significantly, both Kesariya and Borobodur stupas have six terraces each and the diameter of Kesariya stupa is equivalent to the width of Borobodur. But experts feel that the diameter of Kesariya could be larger as several parts are still underground and are yet to be excavated. It took continuous work for three years to expose the front part of the monuments. The excavation of full stupa requires work of few more years.
According to historical records, Lord Buddha had stayed in Kesariya and handed over his begging bowl to the people of Vaishali during his last journey to Kushinagara, where he died. Buddha had predicted about his impending death, within three months, at Chapal Chaitya and then Kutagarshala, both in Vaishali. People of Vaishali had then cried and thrown dust over their head. Looking back at the city, which was the scene of many memorable vents of his life, Buddha had said: "I am visiting Vaishali for the last time."
People followed Buddha without caring for his instructions to go back. But at Kesariya, Buddha politely asked them to return and handed over his begging bowl to them. In order to mark that emotional moment in the life of Buddha, a small mud stupa was built at Kesariya. In course of time, during the Maurya, Sunga and Kushana period, it became a brick stupa with several additions and enlargements. In sixth century AD, during the Gupta period, it was further enlarged and embellished with hundreds of sculptures. A number of similar stupas were later built in Kashmir, Bhutan, Tibet and Burma.during the Maurya, Sunga and Kushana period, it became a brick stupa with several additions and enlargements. In sixth century AD, during the Gupta period, it was further enlarged and embellished with hundreds of sculptures. A number of similar stupas were later built in Kashmir, Bhutan, Tibet and Burma.