Directorate of Archaeology

  An overview of archaeological importance of Bihar.
  Formation and Activities of the Directorate.
  Museums owned by the Central Government.
  Museums owned by the Universities and Semi-Government Organisations.
  Museums owned by the Non-Government Organisations (Trust, Societies, etc.)
  Museums owned by Private Individuals.
  Bihar Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites' Remains and Art Treasures Act, 1976.
  Archaeological Sites:
  Agam KuanDurakhi Devi TempleChoti PatandeviBegu Hajjam's Mosque  
  Kamaldah Jain TempleGolgharNepali MandirJami MasjidChirandKandaha Sun Temple 
  Jalalgarh FortKatragarhVishnupada TempleBrahmayoni HillPretshila HillMirabigha
  Arrah HouseJagdishpur FortChausagarhTomb of Alawal KhanShergarh FortMasahi
  Kheri HillMahmud Shah's TombMunger FortDaud Khan FortHazarimal Dharamshala
    Other Sites:
    TaradihNishan Singh Memorial & CemetryApsadh Garh & Varah SculptureParavati PahariMorrision Building
    George Orwell Birth PlaceAhilya Asthan Telhara Sofa TempleDwalakh Shiva TempleLord Minto TowerTekari Fort
  1. Vishnupada Temple, Gaya

The Vishnupada Temple is considered to be one of the most sacred of all the Vaishnava temples in India. The spot on which it stands is associated with the famous mythological event of God Vishnu killing the demon Gayasura and leaving marks of his footprint on the rock which is the main object of worship in the temple. Little is, however, known of the ancient or original temple over the sacred spot. The present Vishnupada Temple on the bank of the river Phalgu was built at the end of the eighteenth century by the Maharani of Indore Ahilya Bai Holkar who brought about 1,200 sculptors from Jaipur (Rajasthan) who quarried the grey granite stone from Patherkatti (a hill in Gaya district) and took about twelve years to complete the construction of the temple. The temple consists in plan of a sanctum, having an octagonal tower, about hundred feet high, with a lofty pyramidal roof besides an open pillared hall or mandapa in front, surrounded by an open courtyard all around. Annexed to the temple within the courtyard is a large baradari or pillared pavilion of sixteen granite pillars called as Solah Vedi where 'Pindas' are also offered by the pilgrims coming from all over India. In front of the baradari is a huge bell, which was presented by Ranjit Pande, a minister of Nepal.

 

In the courtyard of the Vishnupada Temple there are numerous small shrines and images. The Nrisimha Temple, a small temple dedicated to Nrisimha, the man-lion incarnation of Lord Vishnu has a beautifully carved doorframe. An another temple of Vishnu adjoining the Nrisimha Temple on the north side has stone pillars and brick built walls. On the eastern side of the courtyard also there is a small temple dedicated to Siva or Mahadeva in the form of Phalgwisvara or Lord of the Phalgu (river). A number of inscriptions have had been earlier found in and around the premises of the Vishnupada Temple which are of great epigraphical significance.

  1. Brahmayoni Hill, Gaya

Situated to the south of Gaya, the Brahmayoni Hill, the highest hill in Gaya is named after a natural fissure on its top which is believed to represent the female energy or yoni of the God Brahma. In a small temple on the hill a five-headed female image is worshipped as a female energy of Brahma i.e. Brahmayoni. This temple was built by one Maratha chief named Balaji Pandit. An inscription on the hill records the construction of a flight of steps from the foot of the hill to the top by Rao Bhau Saheb in the reign of Jayaji Rao Scindia of Gwalior in about 1843 A.D. The Brahmayoni Hill is a sacred place for the Hindus and pindas are offered here during the Pitripaksha mela in large numbers.

  1. Pretshila Hill, Gaya

The Pretshila Hill, situated to the North-West of Gaya is a sacred place for the Hindus where 'pindas' are offered by the devotees in large numbers to their ancestors. On the summit of the hill is a temple of the Pretaraja or God Yama of Hindu mythology. To pacify the preta (ghost), who is said to have once haunted the hill, this temple was originally built on this spot by Rani Ahilybai of Indore and was renovated thereafter several times. An inscription dated 1744 A.D. in the temple on the hill recorded the construction of the flight of steps having been done at the expense of Sri Manmohan Datt of Calcutta. Earlier several images of Surya, Vishnu, Mahismarddini Durga and some Buddhist divinities were found in and around the hill which indicates the existence of earlier shrines in the locality during the ancient period. At the foot of the hill is a tank called Ramkund in which it is believed that Lord Ram himself bathed before offering 'pinda' to his ancestors.

  1. Ramshila Hill, Hajipur

The Ramshila Hill situated on the south-east fringe of Gaya is one of the most sacred hills in Gaya and it also appears to have had a considerable antiquity. A number of stone sculptures belonging to the ancient period can be still noticed on and around the hill which suggests the existence of some earlier structures or temples since very early times. The temple situated on the top of the hill called as Ramesvara or Patalesvara temple was originally built in 1014 A.D. but has gone through many restorations and repairs in the succeeding periods. In front of the temple is a pavilion, built by Sri Krishna Basu of Calcutta in 1811 A.D. where 'pindas' are offered by the Hindu devotees during pitripaksha for their ancestors. The name of the hill is associated with Lord Rama and so images of Rama, Sita and Hanuman are also installed in a temple on the hill. The flight of steps leading up to the temple, originally got constructed by Sri K. Basu, was further repaired in 1886 by the then Raja of Tekari and even thereafter renovations and repairs have been going on for the benefit of the pilgrims who come in large numbers to offer 'pindas'. The Ramshila Hill is considered to be the most sacred as it is also believed that Lord Ram had offered 'pinda' on the hill.

  1. Mirabigha, Jehanabad

Mirabigha village (Dist. Jehanabad) is situated at about 4 km. South-East of Tehta Railway Station. This archaeological site is characterized by a cluster of temples, mostly Shaivite, numbering about a dozen. Most of them are brick-worked with some stone appendage. There are ruins of an ancient tank, which may be associated with the site.

 

The site also yielded a host of Brahmanical deities, who once would have resided in these temples.

 

Both, the temples and sculptures, belong to the Pala period of the 9th-10th cent. A.D.

  1. Arrah House, Arrah

Arrah house in Arrah, the district headquarter of Bhojpur district, is presently located within the premises of the Maharaja College. It is a small double-storied structure on a raised plinth built by Vicars Boyle, an Engineer of the Eastern Railway before 1857, during the British rule in India. It was intended as a billiard room, the residence proper being a short distance away. The Arrah house covering a total plinth area of 51' square consists of a billiard room with a smaller room, a bathroom attached on one side and a verandah in front with semi-circular arched colonnade. The Arrah House became famous in 1857 when insurrection broke out and a number of British officers took their refuge within this structure and put up a gallant defence till they were rescued by the British soldiers.

  1. Jagdishpur Fort, Arrah

Jagdishpur is situated at a distance of about 35 Kms. South west of Arrah, the district headquarter of Bhojpur district. Jagdishpur is famous in the annals of Indian history because of "the son of the soil" Babu Kunwar Singh, who was the first and foremost freedom fighter of Bihar during the Freedom Movement in 1857. Jagdishpur for many generations was under the control of the Ujjainia Rajputs, to which family Babu Kunwar Singh belonged, and so the spirit of revolt and love for independence was in the very marrow of their bones, veins and blood. The Jagdhishpur Fort where Babu Kunwar Singh resided was the epicentqre of the first freedom struggle and so it has great historical importance.

 

At present besides the main double-storied massive building there are two big tanks on its either side and a Kachehri in front of the building. In front of the main building is a big statue of Babu Kunwar Singh riding on his horse. At the back of the main building is a big well and an another small brick structure. The compound in front of the garh is very big and on one side of it is a 'mazar' of Shahid Baba, a Muslim saint.

  1. Chausagarh, Buxar

In the Buxar district of Bihar Chausa or Chausagarh is situated at a distance of about 11 Kms. East of the district headquarter Buxar. Chausa, very well known in the annals of Indian history as the place where in 1539 A.D. Sher Shah defeated the Mughal emperor Humayun, is also a place of great antiquity. The archaeological and historical importance of this site during the ancient period is evident from a variety of antiquarian remains found on and around Chausagarh, mainly in course of a series of explorations earlier, the most significant being a hoard of 18 Jain bronze images dating right from the Sunga period upto the Gupta period, which are presently preserved in the Patna Museum. A hoard of electrum coins and other ancient coins have had been also found earlier in Chausa. Besides these, fragments of terracotta panels and other objects and a number of stone sculptures also belonging to the ancient period have been found which are of great archaeological importance and are preserved in the Patna Museum and also in the Sitaram Upadhyaya Buxar Museum.

 

Chausa is situated on the confluence of the rivers Karmanasa and the Ganga which separates it from the neighbouring state U.P., and therefore it has been a place of great strategic importance since very early times.

  1. Tomb of Alawal Khan, Sasaram

The tomb of Alawal Khan is situated to the south of the town, Sasaram, the district headquarter of the Rohtas district and one of the most important ancient towns in Bihar. Alawal Khan, whose full name was Alauddin Khan, was the superintendent of buildings under the Pathan rulers Sher Shah and Salim Shah. He was also an important general in command of 5,000 horsemen. While Alawal Khan was incharge of the construction of Sher Shah's tomb he pilfered better materials for his own tomb and was therefore put to disgrace by Sher Shah. As such, the tomb of Alawal Khan consists in plan only of a courtyard surrounded by a high stone wall of fine masonry with three entrances on the east, south and north, but now only the eastern entrance remains and the other two have been closed. The eastern and western walls are surmounted by cupolas and the principal door has some fine carvings round it. There are only three open graves inside the enclosure, one of Alawal Khan and the other two of his relatives. On the grave of Alawal Khan is a short epitaph containing the usual Kalimas.

  1. Masahi, Kaimur

Situated at a distance of about three kms. from the block headquarter Bhagwanpur in Kaimur district Masahi is a village by the side of the river Suvara where a mound, locally called as 'garh', has been declared as a Protected site by the Govt. of Bihar under Section 3(3) of the Bihar Ancient Monuments and Archaeological site, Remains and Art Treasure Act, 1976. The mound or garh in Masahi village covering an area of about five acres is supposed to have had been the site of an ancient temple complex. Stone sculptures of standing and sitting Buddha and other Buddhist deities besides architectural remains like pillars, pilasters, beams, lintels, doorjambs, amalakas etc. have been found in large number from the site which suggests that during the Early Medieval period or even earlier there was a huge temple complex at this site. This can be as well ascertained by the fact that still large sized bricks are scattered on and around the mound and some brick structures are also remaining. Masahi is situated at a distance, of about two kms. from the very well known Mundeswari Temple belonging to the later Gupta period and so it is likely that there may be some closer sculptural and architectural links between the two during the ancient period.

  1. Kheri Hill, Shahkund

Kheri Hill, Shahkund in the district of Bhagalpur is situated at a distance of about ten kms. from Sultanganj. Shahkund owes its name to a big tank measuring 1300 ft. x 600 ft. on the northern edge of a grave of a Muslim saint named Shah Saheb. Evidently Shahkund means the tank of the Shah Saheb. The village proper is situated at the foot of a hillock called the Kheri Pahar (Hill). Remnants of old buildings and temples have been found on the Kherhi Hill and its vicinity. In a well of the village, large number of ancient relics consisting of broken sculptures and architectural pieces besides railings were found which clearly suggest that Shahkund had an ancient tradition. During the rule of Shashanka, the king of Bengal in the 7th century A.D. Shahkund appears to have been included within his kingdom. A number of ancient tanks, sculptural and architectural remains etc., presently existing at the site, appear to be belonging to the early medieval period. A number of religious sculptures, mostly of black stone, such as those of Nrisingha, Lakshmi, Vishnu, Ganesh, Durga, besides Buddha, Tara etc. were earlier found from this site. These are of great archaeological significance. Shahkund is particularly famous for the large number of Shivalingas, some of which are still existing on or near the site, one of which has a number of miniature Shivalingas (Sahasralinga) around its body.

  1. Mahmud Shah's Tomb, Kahalgaon

In the Bhagalpur district Kahalgoan or Colgong is situated at a distance of about 30 kms. East of the district headquarter, Bhagalpur. Mahmud Shah was the last independent King of Bengal who died at Kahalgoan in 1539 A.D. After his defeat at the hands of Sher Shah, the mighty Pathan ruler, he took refuge with the Mughal Emperor Humayun at Chunar. In his absence from Bengal his capital was stormed and sacked and his two sons were murdered by the Afghans. Mahmud Shah, after joining hands with the Mughal emperor Humayun, advanced as far as Kahalgoan to attack Sher Shah. But, after hearing the news of the death of his two sons and the plunder of his capital, he was so much shocked that only after a few days' illness he died at Kahalgoan in 1539 A.D., where his tomb was built later. The tomb of Mahmud Shah is, therefore, of great historical significance.


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