Travel to Magadh and reminiscence of Mauryan Heritage

rajgirAshoka, sometimes Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty, who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from c. 268 to 232 BCE. The grandson of the founder of the Maurya Dynasty, Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka promoted the spread of Buddhism. Considered by many to be one of India’s greatest emperors, Ashoka expanded Chandragupta’s empire to reign over a realm stretching from present-day Afghanistan in the west to Bangladesh in the east. It covered the entire Indian subcontinent except for parts of present-day Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. The empire’s capital was Pataliputra, with provincial capitals at Taxila and Ujjain.

Sanchi: The Heart of Ashoka, the Great
Apart from being a world heritage site, Sanchi stupas are essential part of Buddhist history and life of Ashoka, the Great, himself. It is situated on an ancient trade route which used to connect north India with its southern and western parts. Vidisha, on river Betwa,was an ancient trade center of the country surrounded by rocky hills, one of which is now Sanchi. It was in Vidisha that Ashoka spent initial years of his life as a governor appointed by his father, Bimbisar. Ashoka was married to a girl of a trader in Vidisha. That ancient trade route is now a major road and train link.

History apart, it is a place worth seeing which can be approached both from Bhopal and Vidisha. Road from Bhopal is wide and still getting wider. Sanchi is a very small town with a small railway station. Vidisha, some 10 kilometers is a bigger railway station. But it is always advisable to approach this site from Bhopal, some 45 kilometers. Sanchi has a good hotel of tourism department and there are many others if someone has to stay and eat something.

Magadh now Patna was the epicentre of Mauryan Empire, It is first site to be explored to have full idea of the Mauryan Empire. Though parts of the ancient city have been excavated, much of it still lies buried beneath modern Patna. Various locations have been excavated, including Kumhrar, and Bulandi Bagh. During the Mauryan period, the city was described as being shaped as parallelogram, approximately 1.5 miles wide and 9 miles long. Its wooden walls were pierced by 64 gates. Archaeological research has found remaining portions of the wooden palisade over several kilometers, but stone fortifications have not been found.

Mauryan-empire-excavationKumrahar is the name of an area of Patna, where remains of the ancient city of Pataliputra were excavated. It is located 5 km east of Patna Railway Station. Archaeological remains of the Mauryan period (322–185 BCE) have been discovered here, this include the ruins of a hypostyle 80-pillared hall, The excavation finding here dates back to 600 BCE,and marks the ancient capital of Ajatshatru, Chandragupta and Ashoka, and collectively the relics range from four continuous periods from 600 BCE to 600 CE.

Following the excavation of nearby Bulandi Bagh by L.A. Waddell in 1895, American archaeologist David Brainard Spooner excavated in 1912-1913 in Kumhrar one pillar of polished stone, and a very large number of fragments. The excavators were able to trace 72 ‘pits’ of ash and rubble on the site which marked the position in which other pillars must once have stood. During the subsequent excavation, done by K P Jaiswal, 1951-1955, eight more such pits were found, giving the hall its present name – “Assembly hall of 80 pillars”.

The pillars are arranged in 8 rows of 10 pillars each. The pillars are separated with each other by a distance of 4.57 meters. Each pillar is made of fine sandstone from Chunar, and was 9.75 meters in height, of which 2.74 meters were below the surface for grounding. Since no other stone works were recovered, it is thought that the pillars sustained a wooden roof, and that there were no surrounding walls, making it an open-air hall. South of the pillared hall, seven wooden platforms were excavated, which are thought to have supported a staircase going into the canal to welcome guests.
All the ruins are attributed to the Mauryan period, though historians vary regarding the use of the 80-pillar hall, some suggest that it was in this hall that Third Buddhist Council was held, in 250 BCE, at Ashokarama in Patiliputta (Pataliputra), under the reign of Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka (r. 273-232 BCE). The pillared hall seems to have been located about 350 meters south of the wooden palisades of the city of Pataliputra (discovered in the area of Bulandi Bagh), and was standing by the banks of the former Son river, and therefore cannot have been the Mauryan palace, but probably only “a pleasure hall outside the city walls”.

Agam Kuan is an ancient well and archaeological site in Patna, India. It is said to date back to the period of Mauryan emperor, Ashoka (304–232 BCE). Circular in shape, the well is lined with brick in the upper 13 metres (43 ft) and contains wooden rings in the remaining 19 metres (62 ft).

Agam-kuanAgam Kuan (unfathomable well) is an ancient well and archaeological site in Patna, India, Bihar. It is said to date back to the period of Mauryan emperor, Ashoka (304–232 BCE). Circular in shape, the well is lined with brick in the upper 13 metres (43 ft) and contains wooden rings in the remaining 19 metres (62 ft). The well was refurbished during the reign of Emperor Akbar and a roofed structure was built around the well. This circular structure has been fitted with eight windows which are well placed

During the 1890s, the British explorer, Laurence Waddell, while exploring the ruins of Pataliputra, identified Agam Kuan as the legendary well built by Ashoka for the purpose of torture before he embraced Buddhism,as part of Ashoka’s Hell chambers. The torture practice was also reported by Chinese travellers (most probably Fa-Hien) of the 5th and 7th centuries A.D.

The Agam Kuan is set within an archaeological site identified by the Archaeological Survey of India which also contains the adjacent Shitala Devi temple where the folk deity Shitala Devi is venerated. Inside this temple, the pindas of the Saptamatrikas (the seven mother goddesses) are worshipped. The temple is widely revered for its belief in curing smallpox and chicken pox. Agam Kuan is situated close to the Gulzarbagh railway station, on the way to Panch Pahadi, on the outskirts of Patna, Bihar state. It is east of Patna and south-west of Gulzarbagh Station.

According to a myth, the well has a subterranean link with the Patala (netherworld) or hell; this was inferred on the basis that a saint found a heavy log in the well which was supposed to have been lost in the sea.

How to Reach : This place is situated on the outskirt of the city, near to Mahatma Gandhi Setu. It is easily reachable by private cabs or autos.

Distance :
Patna Railway Station ~ 9-10 km
Patna Jaiprakash Narayan Airport ~ 16-17 km
Mithapur Bus Stand ~ 11-12 km

Nearby Places :
  • Kumhrar Park ~ 1-2 km
  • Patan Devi ~ 1-2 km
  • Kamaldah Jain Temple ~ 0.1 km (foot), 4-5 km (vehicle)