First Hilltop Buddhist Monastery at Bihar

Recently, the 1st hilltop Buddhist monastery of the Gangetic Valley has been found at Lal Pahari in Bihar’s Lakhisarai district. Many monasteries have been discovered in this area earlier but this is the first time that a Buddhist monastery has been found on top of a hill.

Key Points

  • This hilltop monastery was found during an excavation conducted by the Bihar Heritage Development Society and the Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, West Bengal.
  • It is considered a great finding for Mahayana Buddhism and it shows that the monastery would have been set up Mahayana rituals in isolation.
  • Two burnt clay seals depicting the name of the monastery have also been discovered.
  • It was a Vihara, named as Srimaddharmaviharik aryabhiksusanghasya.
  • This region was also known as Krimila. This name is mentioned in Buddhist literature also. This area also turned into a trade point during the Pala period and was the administrative centre of the Pala rulers.
  • Renowned archaeologist Alexander Cunningham also discovered many monasteries and temples in this area and mentioned them in his book. But no excavation was conducted in the region.

The Bihar government has now made plans to protect the structure. In order to stop the natural decay of the structures due to extreme weather, it has been planned to erect a shed over the remains of the monastery. A pathway will also be made to reach the hilltop. In addition to this, in order to stop the unwanted movement around the structure, the area around it will be barricaded.