BUDDHISM IN VAISHALI

Vaishali: Where Buddha announced his impending death

Vaishali (Buddhist Pilgrimages )

Vaishali today is a small village surrounded by banana and mango groves as well as rice fields. But excavations in the area have brought to light an impressive historical past. The epic Ramayana tells the story of the heroic King Vishal who ruled here. Historians maintain that one of the world's first democratic republics with an elected assembly of representatives flourished here in the 6th century B.C. in the time of the Vajjis and the Lichchavis. And while Pataliputra, capital of the Mauryas and the Guptas, held political sway over the Gangetic plain, Vaishali was the center for trade and industry.

Lord Buddha visited Vaishali frequently and at Kolhua, close by, preached his last sermon. To commemorate the event, Emperor Ashoka, in the third century B.C. erected one of his famous lion pillars here. A hundred years after the Mahaparinirvana of the Buddha - Vaishali hosted the second great Buddhist council. Two stupas were erected to commemorate this event. Jainism, too, has its origins in Vaishali, for in 527 B.C., Lord Mahavir was born on the outskirts of the city, and lived in Vaishali till he was 22. Vaishali is then twice blessed and remains an important pilgrim center for both Buddhists and Jains, attracting also historians foraging for the past.

On the outskirts of Vaishali stood the grand double storied Buddhist monastery. Buddha often discoursed here. He extended spiritual enfranchisement to women by admitting them to the Holy Order which was founded here. Legend has it that on one of his visits, several monkeys dug up a tank for his comfortable stay and offered him a bowl of honey. This is regarded as one of the great incidents in the legends of Buddha, who announced his approaching Nirvana and preached his last sermon here.

Major Attraction

Ashokan Pillar

Emperor Ashoka built The Lion Pillar at Kolhua. It is made of a highly polished single piece of red sandstone, surmounted by a bell shaped capital, 18.3 m high. A life-size figure of a lion is placed on top of the pillar. There is a small tank here known as Ramkund. This pillar beside a brick stupa at Kolhua commemorates Buddha's last sermon.

Bawan Pokhar Temple

An old temple built in the Pala period stands on the northern bank of Bawan Pokhar and enshrines beautiful images of several Hindu gods

Budha Stupa-I

The exterior of this stupa which is now in a dilapidated condition has a plain surface. One eighth of the sacred ashes of the lord Buddha were enshrined here in a stone casket.

Budha Stupa-II

Excavation at this site in 1958 led to the discovery of another casket containing the ashes of the Lord Buddha.

Kundalpur

Birth place of Lord Mahavira. 4Km.It is believed that the Jain Tirthankar, Lord Mahavir was born over 2550 years ago. Mahavir is said to have spent the first 22 years of his life here.

Raja Vishal ka Garh

A huge mound with a circumference about one Kilometer and walls nearly 2 m high with a 43m wide moat around them, is said to be the ancient parliament house. Over seven thousand representatives of the federal assembly gathered here to legislate and discuss the problems of the day.