Kolhua - The Ashokan Pillar

Kolhua


Kolhua is a famous Buddhist excavation site situated approximately 65 km North-West of Patna, not far away from the other excavations at Vaishali. The excavations has revealed the famous Ashoka pillar containing life size statue of lion on the top, besides many other things. Kolhua was under the rule of Licchavis during the time of Buddha whose capital was at Vaishali. Buddha is said to have delivered his last sermon at Kolhua.
Kolhua's history is closely associated with Buddha. It is said in the ancient texts that it was the place where a local chief of monkeys had offered a bowl of honey to Buddha. This event has been marked among one of the eight significant events in the life of Buddha. He spent many years at Kolhua. A brick stupa was erected to commemorate the event of honey offering to Buddha by the monkey chief during the Mauryan time, subsequently enlarged during the Kushana period and later additions during Gupta periods. The recent excavations conducted by ASI have revealed remains of Kutagarshala, Swastika shaped monastery, a tank, number of votive stupas and miniature shrines in addition to main stupa and the Ashoka pillar which were partly exposed earlier. The 12-cell monastery is believed to be Ladies Monastery. The tank is believed to be made by monkeys for Buddha, hence named as Markata-Hrid.

The Asokan Pillar locally known as Bhim Sen Ki Lathi is about 12 meters high. It is built of monolithic sandstone column surmounted with a lion capital. It is one of the earliest six monolithic pillars erected by Ashoka. There are about 330 votive stupas around the main stupa with variant shapes and designs. Kutagarshala represents the spot where Buddha used to stay during his visit.

In a recent development, ASI has identified Kolhua among 25 ancient monuments across the country to be included under Adarsh Monuments, only one to be included in the list from Bihar. The inclusion will help in the creation and up gradation of the basic facilities available at Kolhua.

How to reach :
  • Airport : The nearest airport is Jai Prakash Narayan Airport at Patna
  • Railway : The nearest major railway station is at Muzaffarpur and Hajipur.
  • Roads : It is well connected by roads

Where to stay :

Vaishali is the nearest place where moderate accommodation is available.

Barabar Caves, Gaya

 

Situated at a distance of about 75 km from Patna lies the oldest rock cut caves of India, named as Barabar Caves. Its history goes back to the times of Mauryan Empire (3rd BCE), when the caves were built for the ascetics of Ajivika sects. These caves are situated in the twin hills of Barabar and Nagarjuni. There are four caves in Barabar Hill - Lomas Rishi Cave, Sudama cave, Karan Chaupar cave and Visva Jhopari cave. Nagarjuni caves contains three caves - Gopi Cave, Bahayak cave and Vaidantika cave. These caves are carved on the monolithic granite rocks.

The other visiting places nearby is the temple of Baba Siddhanath and a museum. There are also small falls in the hills. One can also enjoy the boating facility.

How to reach :

Train is a good option for visiting the caves. The nearest railway station is Makhdumpur which lie ahead of Jehanabad on the Patna - Gaya rail route. The caves lie 10-11 km from the Makhdumpur station, which can be reached by autos.

Where to stay :

It is better to stay in Patna or Gaya, as the places does not have much accommodation facilities. All the places can be visited in a single day from Patna or Gaya.

 

Kawar Lake Bird Sanctuary, Begusarai

Kawar lake Bird Sanctuary is situated at about 120 km East of Patna in the Begusarai district. It is the only lake in Bihar which has been designated as a wetland of National importance by the Government of India. This lake is of great ecological importance for the surrounding area and it provides ample economic activities through fishing and it is also the biggest source of irrigation. It is also one of the the largest freshwater lake in South Asia and around the three times of famous Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Rajasthan. However, the over exploitation of the lake resources coupled with the bird poaching has severely casted shadow over its existence in the recent years.

The lake is spread in an area of 7,400 hectare, hosting a variety of birds, which include a large number of migratory birds, and many flora and fauna species. As per the estimate there are 106 varieties of resident birds and 59 species of migratory birds who comes on every winter. The lake was declared a protected area in 1986 and it has also been declared as an Important Bird Area (IBA)  site of Bihar. An area of 66.13 sq. km. of the lake was declared as a protected area by the government of Bihar in June 1989.

Birds like Oriental White-backed Vulture, Long-billed Vulture, Greater Adjutant, Greater Spotted Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Sarus Crane, Painted Stork etc can be spotted hovering over the lake. Beside a wide variety of ducks, geese, cormorants, Asian open bills, waterfowls etc. are easily visible. Presence of large variety of flora and fauna adds charm to the lake. It also boast of as many as 41 varieties of fish.

The Kawar lake has not been popular on the tourist map due to lack of awareness about it. However, the natural beauty of lake is enough to attract visitor of any kind, specially the vivid bird-watchers, ornithologists, and photographer. The lake comes to full bloom during winter season when the migratory birds visits for nesting. During recent time, it has witnessed increased bird poaching and uncontrolled use of its water, causing a shadow on the conservation effort of the lake. One must visit the place to witness the beauty of the lake.

How to Reach :

The Kawar lake is situated 22 km North West of Begusarai town. Begusarai is easily reachable by road and railways. It is a railway station on Barauni-Katihar section of East Central railways, on the route between New Delhi and Guwahati.  The town is well connected by NH 28.

More in the section :

Mundeshwari Devi temple, Kaimur

mundeshwari devi temple


Situated on the top of Mundehswari hill (608 feet) is the Mundeshwari Devi temple which happens to be one of the oldest temple in the Country, whose history goes back to hundreds of years, around 1st Century AD. It is situated in the Kaimur district.  Not only it is the one of the oldest surviving centrally protected monuments under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), but also is the oldest functional temple in the Country where regular prayers have been performed for the past several hundreds years. It is one of the most popular temple destination in the state.

The temple is one of the earliest specimen of Nagara style of temple architecture in the Country. It is built in stone in an octagonal plan. The main deities in the sanctum are Devi Mundeshwari, situated by the wall on one side and a beautiful four-faced Chaturmukhi Shivlinga, adorns the center of the temple. The temple also has idols of other goddess like Ganesha, Surya and Vishnu. The interior walls have niches and bold moldings which are carved with vase and foliage designs. The ASI has taken lot of renovation plan for the monument, which has been damaged during its long history.

The plaque outside the temple reads " This beautiful temple of Mardaleshvara, now called Mundeshvari is one of the earliest temple of Bihar. According to an inscription found here, it had been in existence in A.D. 635. Built entirely of stone and octagonal on plan, its wall are relieved with niches and bold mouldings, and carved with vase and foliage designs. On its door-jambs are carved figures of Dvarapalas Ganga Yamuna etc. Inside the temple is a Chaturmukha Siva-linga and 2 curious stone vessels. The sikhara of the temple collapsed long ago, the present roof being a recent restoration. "

During Navaratra, an annual fair is held which is attended by thousands of people. Festivals like Ramnavami and Shivratri also attracts large number of people. The local people visits the temple in big number and held great esteem of the temple.

How to reach : Bhabhua is the district headquarter of Kaimur district. It is situated approx 200 km South-West of Patna. It is well connected by road through Grant Trunk road. Bhabhu has a well connected railways station on Kolkata-New Delhi route. Mundeshwari temple is 10-12 km from the district headquarter.

Accommodation : Some small to medium budget hotels are available at Bhabhua.

Recent update :  Recently, State government has allocated fund for building an advanced aerial rope-ways for the temple atop the hill.


Danapur Cantonment - An Ornithologist's Delight


Situated on the outskirt of Patna, Danapur Cantonment has a very special distinction of being a special place for the migratory birds. It is also the second oldest cantonment in the country, whose roots goes back to the colonial era. Every year during the month of June-July, thousands of migratory birds descends here after traveling thousands of miles for breeding. They stay here till November-December. During their retreat timing, it offers a wonderful view with the young ones getting ready with their parents for a long journey back to their home land.

The cantonment area is famous for the rare species of migratory birds known as 'Asian OpenBill Storks' (Anastomus Scitans) which come on an annual basis. Local people refer them as 'Siberian Cranes' and are fond of them. These birds are found in South-Asian countries - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka. and in South-East Asian countries - Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia. They visit this place from far off lands with the onset of monsoon in the region. They visit in number roughly in between 3000-5000. The number has been on rise in the recent years despite growing vehicular movement through the cantonment area. The Cantonment is the largest breeding ground (Heronry) of the Storks in the South Asia, as per the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) conducted by Wetlands International South Asia. The report also says that the number of Asian OpenBill Storks in South Asia has fallen from 59,897 in 2002 to 16,771 in 2004. In 2006-07, India had the largest number of these birds at 13,036. The storks has been coming to the cantonment for decades. They hatch their eggs here and with the onset of winter they travel back with their siblings. Many ornithologists visit this place every year to watch and study the activities of these migratory birds. The cantonment being quite old has quite well developed trees in large areas which has been protected due to the presence of army. This place provides a calm and safe environment for these migratory birds. The presence of ample food in the Ganga plain and Sone river area provides food security to them. The Cantonment authority has even designated a part of the area as ecological park where the movement of vehicle is prohibited and human movement restricted. The army personnel keep a strict vigilance over more than 50-odd low rising trees where these birds prefer to built their nests.

This place provides a wonderful opportunity to the bird-lovers to watch the migratory birds.

How to reach :

It is easily reachable by autos or private vehicle from Patna. However, for visiting the interior areas, army permission may be required. Danapur Cantonment is the proposed starting station on Corridor 1-A (East West Metro Corridor) of Patna Metro rail project in Phase 1.

Distance :
Patna Junction ~ 6-7 km
Patna Airport ~ 2-3 km
Mithapur Bus Stand ~ 12-13 km

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