March 21, 2023

Why in news?

  • Votive stupas (offered in fulfillment of a vow) were discovered near Sarai Tila mound within premises of Nalanda Mahavihara in Bihar.
  • Stupa, Sanskrit for heap, is a mound-like (hemispherical) burial structure containing relics of Buddhist monks.
    • g. Sanchi Stupa built over Buddha relics.

Architectural features of Stupa

  • A hemispherical mound or anda’s shaped dome
  • A square railing or harmika
  • Central pillar supporting a triple-umbrella form (chattra), representing three jewels of Buddhism. >
  • Enclosure wall with decorated gateways (toranas) at cardinal directions.
  • A circular terrace (medhi) for ritual circumambulation.

About Nalanda Mahavihara

  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with archaeological remains of a monastic and scholastic institution from 3rd century BCE to 13th century CE.
  • Gautam Buddha as well as Mahavira stayed at Nalanda.
  • Other famous scholars at Nalanda Nagarjuna, Dharampala, Dinnaga, Jinamitra Santaraksita etc.
  • Imminent pilgrim monks like Hiuen Tsang and l-tsing also visited.
  • It prospered under Gupta Dynasty, Harsha of Kannauj and Pala Dynasty.
  • It includes stupas, shrines, viharas (residential and educational buildings) and important art works in stucco, stone and metal.
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