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Telhara University's ruins older than Nalanda, Vikramshila

The remains of Telhara University, discovered in Bihar, are older than Nalanda and Vikramshila universities, officials said here Sunday.

Telhara University's ruins older than Nalanda, Vikramshila
The Telhara project that started on December 26, 2009, has so far come across
 over 1,000 priceless finds from 30-odd trenches — seals and sealing, red sandstone,
 black stone or blue basalt statues of Buddha and several Hindu deities, miniature 
bronze and terracotta stupas and statues and figurines that go back to the
 Gupta (320-550 AD) and Pala (750-1174 AD) empires. But the 2.6-acre mound
 has now thrown up the most tantalising find yet — evidence of a three-storeyed
 structure, prayer hall and a platform to seat over 1,000 monks or students
 of Mahayana Buddhism [Credit: IE/Ravi S Sahani]
Bihar's Arts, Culture and Youth Affairs Secretary Anand Kishor said that based on key findings from the excavation, it can be confirmed that Telhara University was older than Nalanda and Vikramshila.

"A team of archaeologists has found four Buddhist monastery seals made of terracotta, bearing the inscriptions - Sri Prathamshivpur Mahavihariyaye Bikshu Sanghas - in Pali language in Nalanda district that indicated the university's real name, which is usually described as Telhara University," Kishor said.

Kishor said Chinese traveller Heuen Tsang visited Telhara in the 7th century AD and he mentioned the university as "Teleadaka" in his narrative.

Telhara University's ruins older than Nalanda, Vikramshila
Former Archaeological Survey of India director B S Verma, who between 1971 
and ’81 supervised the excavation at the site of the ancient Vikramshila university, 
says, “Telhara or Tiladhak has much more convincing epigraphical proofs — monastery 
inscriptions — than Vikramshila. The findings that match Hiuen Tsang’s account
 do more to convince that the place was a university or mahavihara 
similar to Nalanda” [Credit: IE/Ravi S Sahani]
Kishor told IANS that archaeologists have discovered bricks that were used to lay the ancient university's foundation.

"Bricks' dimension 42x32x6 cm revealed a Kushan, first century AD, influence. That is a strong evidence that the Telhara University is older than fourth century's Nalanda University and seventh century's Vikramshila University.".

Kishor said the archaeological discovery was a landmark achievement for Bihar.

Telhara University's ruins older than Nalanda, Vikramshila
The Bihar government has been calling the Telhara project one of its biggest
 after the excavations that unearthed Nalanda and Vikramshila universities. 
The excavation at Telhara should have happened earlier, say experts, but the 
site lost out to the more famous Nalanda [Credit: IE/Ravi S Sahani]
He said archaeologists based on previous findings placed the Telhara University in the Gupta period between fourth and seventh century. But the new findings cleared all doubts as to the university's age.

Atul Kumar Verma, director of state archaeology, said: "It is a positive development in the field of excavation in Bihar."

"After discovery of remains of fourth century ancient Nalanda and eight century Vikramshila universities, this is the discovery of remains of third ancient university in the state," Verma said.

Telhara University's ruins older than Nalanda, Vikramshila
Chinese traveller Heuen Tsang visited Telhara in the 7th century AD and 
he mentioned the university as “Teleadaka” [Credit: IE/Ravi S Sahani]
He said remains of Telhara University were found during excavation of a 45-foot high mound. "We have also found a huge floor, statues in bronze and stone, and over 100 seals."

Verma said Heuen Tsanng has given a graphic account of a cluster of as many as seven Buddhist monasteries flourishing at "Teleadaka", also called "Tiladhak", at Telhara site, where about a thousand monks studied under the Mahayana school of Buddhism.

The excavation at Telhara site was started in 2009 after the then chief minister Nitish Kumar took special interest in it.

Telhara University's ruins older than Nalanda, Vikramshila
In his book, The Antiquarian Remains in Bihar, historian D R Patil writes about 
Hiuen Tsang’s description of Telhara. “Hiuen Tsang describes Telhara or Tilas-akiya
 as containing a number of monasteries or viharas, about seven in number, accommodating
 about 1,000 monks studying in Mahayan. These buildings, he says, had courtyards,
 three-storeyed pavilions, towers, gates and were crowned by cupolas with hanging bells. 
The doors and windows, pillars and beams have bas relieves (sculptures in 
guilded copper). In the middle vihara is a statue of Tara Bodhisatva and
 to the right (is) one of Avlokiteshwar” [Credit: IE/Ravi S Sahani]
Early this year, Nitish Kumar announced that specimen from the site would be housed in the proposed International Museum in Patna.

Source: IANS [December 15, 2014]
TANN

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  1. Check out vikramshila university ruins http://travelnewsindia.com/glorious-heritage-vikramshila-university/

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