Sites of Vaishali






Chronology: On the basis of stratigraphical evidences both the stupa and pillar are contemporary. The discovery of a polished fragment of a stone chhatravati of chunar sandstone along with broken lid of relic casket mode in soap stone definitely put the Kolhua stupa and pillar to the Mauryan period. The square bricks (30 X 30 X 8 Cms) of the stupa are similar to the square bricks found from Raja Vishal ka Garh.

On the basis of pottery, antiquities and structural activities three cultural sequence have been marked on the site from NBPW level (earliest level reached on so far) to Gupta / Post Gupta period.

  • Period          I           NBPW (Mauryan)
  • Period         II           Sunga Kushana
  • Period         III          Gupta and Post-Gupta

The excavations conducted by Archaeological Survey of India have unearthed remains of Kutagarshala, Swastika shaped monastery, a tank, votive stupas and miniature shrines in addition to the main stupa and the Ashokan Pillar.




The pillar locally known as Bhim Sen ki lathi is about 12.00 metres high from the present surface level. Monolithik polished sandstone column with a square abacus surmounted with a lion capital. The statue of seated lion is not facing, with its mouth open as if snarling and its tongue slightly protruding. It is one of the earliest six great monolithic pillars erecated by Ashoka probably to mark the different stages of the journey to Nepal which he undertook in the 21st year of his region i.e. C. 249 B.C., in order to visit same of the holy sites of Buddhism. This pillar does not bear the usal Mauryan edict. But there are a few letters in Brahmi and shell characters (Shankha lipi) of Gupta period, & few scribbled over by visitors including Reaben Burrow (1792), a distinguished mathematician and astronomer, and one of the earliest members of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.

Limited excavations near the lion pillar revealed the base of the pillar resting on a sandstone slab of 2.20 m which was placed over a greenish grey sandy deposit. The entire shaft, except a length of 1.68 m from the base, was polished.




The brick stupa was erected to commemorate the event of offering honey to Buddha by the monkey chief. It was originally built during Mauryan period (C.3rd Century B.C.) and subsequently enlarged in Kusan period (1st – 2nd Century A.D.) by raising the hight and providing brick paved circumambulatory path. Further brick encasing took place during Gupta and late Gupta periods.

During clearance of debris from the centre of the stupa, the remains of a double walled square chamber (brick size: 30X30X8 cms) was traced. A fragment of Chhatravali and a broken lid of casket (both bearing typical Mauryan polish), gold leaves and semi-precious stones (some of them embedded in bricks) are the important antiquities found during excavation. Besides, a headless seated figure of the Buddha and a crowned head of the Buddha were found on the stupa. Some Buddhist statues of the Pala period were also found, the best of which is a large image of seated Buddha, wearing a crown and necklace.

Further excavation in between the pillar and the stupa revealed successive floors made of brickbats & surkhi and plastered with kankar lime.

Votive stupas : Votive stupas are the major structural activity around the pillar and stupa area. About 330 numbers of votive stupas have been exposed till now with variant shapes and designs which include circular, squarish, rectangular, damaru and cylindrical votive stupas decorated with cut bricks and overlaid by lime plaster. It is interesting to note that all of them are provided with brick jelly lime plastered flooring which had witnessed successive flooring. These are also found in groups are two, four and five votive stupas. A niche of one of the votive stupas yielded a beautiful stucco head of the Buddha inscription of Buddhist creed was recently traced on one of the bricks of votive stupa.

Tank: The adjoining tank has been identified as ‘Markat-hrad’, supposedly dug by the monkeys for Buddha. The brick lined seven tiered tank measuring approximately 65X35 meters in dimension has two bathing ghats (terrace) on southern and western wings not visible to each other due to angular disposition. No other monastic site in India has such a large tank with a system of privacy at its bathing ghats.

Kutagarshala: Kutagarshala represents the spot where Buddha used to stay during the rainy seasons and addressed his followers for the last time after the announcement of his approaching nirvana. According to Mandhatri sutra of the Divya Avadana, the Kutagar which means the upper storied hall, was situated on the bank of the Markat- hrad or monkey tank. Excavations have exposed three phases of its construction. Originally it was a small chaitya built during Sunga-Kusana period (2nd Century B.C. to 3rd Century A.D.). Subsequently it was enlarged to a lofty temple was converted into a monastery by providing a number of partition walls during post-Gupta times.

Swastika Monastery : The other monastery which looks like a swastika on plan has twelve rooms, three on each arm attached to common verandah around an open central courtyard with the entrance towards east. The monastery has a toilet chamber attached to its southern wall. It was constructed during Gupta period probably for nuns.




  1. Relic Stupa:- This stupa has been identified as one among the eight stupas containing the corporeal remains of Lord Buddha. Excavation of this site carried out by K.P.Jayaswal Research Institute in 1957-58 revealed that originally it was a mud stupa of a smaller dimension (dia.8.07 mts. only) and was erecated by the Lichhavis over their share of relic of Buddha in 5th Century B.C. A shop stone casket found in core of the Stupa contained ashy earth, a small conch, two glass beads, a small piece of gold leaf and a copper punch marked coin. In the Mauryan, Sunga and Kushana periods the stupa got its enlagement and the diameter of the stupa increased to 17.1 mts. Ayakas noticed in southern and eastern side are probably the earlist example of its kind.
  2.  Raja Vishal Ka Garh:- A high mound covering a large area located at Basarh is called Raja Vishala Ka Garh. This site has already yielded numerous structures and antiquities right from the NBPW,Sunga, Kushana, Gupta and post-Gupta periods as a result of Archaeological operations conducted by different scholars.
  3. Miranji Ki Dargah:- The tomb of Mohd. Quasim, a famous local muslim faqir of 15th Century A.D., is located to the south-west of Raja Vishala Ka Ghar and locally known as Miranji Ki Dargah. It built over the remains of a huge brick stupa said to be built in the memory of Amrapali.
  4. Bauna Pokhar:- There is a old temple on the north bank of a pound, locally called Bauna Pokhar, enshrining several black-basalt images of Gupta band Pala periods. A ancient statue of a Jaina trithankara belonging to the old temple is now enshrined in a newly-built temple nearby, to the west of the old one.
  5. Abhishek-Pushkarni:- According to Buddhist literature water of Abhishek-Pushkarni was heavily protected to prevent even birds to use its water. Only Lichchhavi kings could be consecrated with its water as the time of their coronation. Now it is known as ‘Kharauna Phokhar’ located near the relic stupa.
  6. Bhimsen –ka-pala: It represents to earthen moulds, located about 1.5 km. north-west of the Ashokan Pillar. In 1961 K.P. Jaiswal  Research Institute conducted excavations there and at the centre of the northern mound, near a depth of 16 ft from the top, were found few copper utensils, viz, a spouted pot, a shallow basin with two handles, and incense – burner and a lage spoon, along with a black- war dish having four circles with doffed borders and Nandi padas and a red-ware boul of medium fabric. Relic was also found in one of the copper pot. Both probed to be mud stupas.
  7. Chaturmukha- Mahadeva temple:- A four headed Shivalinga on black basalt with an inscription on the base of Yonipitha in Gupta Brahmi was found at Kaman Chhapra. Near the temple, In 1961 K.P.Jayaswal Research Institute, Patna, conducted the excavation on an earthern mound, resembling a mud stupa, and was exposed to a depth of 1.5 mts., the radius at the base being 8 mts. The deposit below the stupa contained the NBP ware and its associated red and grey wares and terracotta figurines.
  8. Sculpture of Karttikeya:- A black basalt statue of Karttikeya belonging to the Gupta period is enshrined in a temple called Harikatora at Basarh.
  9. Charamdas:- The Charamdas site is located 2 kms. North-west of the Raja Vishal Ka Garh. In 1961 K.P. Jayaswal Research Institute, Patna, conducted the excavations and revealed two periods of occupation below a badly-disturbed deposit with mixed- up objects of diverse ages.
  10. Baniya:- Excavation at Baniya revealed three periods of occupation (with associated red wares). Period I marked by NBPW, period II Kushana, period III Gupta. At the top level few shards of muslim glazed ware were also recovered.
  11. Lalpura:- The site yielded NBPW and associated terracotta figurines. The site had been deserted long before the Christian era.
  12. Virpur:- Excavation at Virpur revealed three periods of occupation. Period I was characterized by red, black & grey wares of medium fabric, other associated finds included terracotta naga figurines, beads, semi-precious stone beads and arrow-head of bone etc. Period II & period III are marked by NBPW and Gupta and post-Gupta respectively.