The Ancient Geography of India/Magadha

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The Ancient Geography of India: I.
The Buddhist Period, Including the Campaigns of Alexander, and the Travels of Hwen-Thsang
Sir Alexander Cunningham
Trübner and Company, 1871 - India

26. Magadha.

[p.452]:From Nepal, Hwen Thsang returned to Vaisali, and then proceeding to the south, crossed the Ganges and entered the capital of Magadha. He notes that the city was originally called Kusumapura, that it had been deserted for a long time, and was then in ruins. It was 70 li, or 11-2/3 miles, in circuit, exclusive of the new town of Pataliputra-pura. This name the Greeks slightly altered to Palibothra on the authority of Megasthenes, whose account is preserved by Arrian.[1] " The capital city of India is Palibothra, in the confines of the Prasii, near the confluence of the two great rivers Erannoboas and Ganges. Erannoboas is reckoned the third river throughout all India, and is inferior to none but the Indus and the Ganges, into the last of which it discharges its waters. Megasthenes assures us that the length of this city is 80 stadia, the breadth 15; that it is surrounded with a ditch, which takes up 6 acres of ground and is 30 cubits deep ; that the walls are adorned with 570 towers and 64 gates." According to this account the capital of Magadha in the time of Seleukos Nikator was 220 stadia, or 25-1/4 miles, in circuit. This is about the size of the modern city of Patna, which when surveyed by Buchanan was 9 miles in length by 2-1/4 miles in breadth,[2] or 22½ miles, in circumference. In the

  1. ' Indica,' x. Strabo, xv. 1. 36, gives exactly the same account,
  2. Gazetteer in v. Patna ; he gives the area as 20 square miles.

[p.453]: seventh century, therefore, we may readily admit that the old city, of Kusumapura may have been about half this size, or 11 miles in circuit, as stated by Hwen Thsang.

Diodorus[1] attributes the foundation of the city to Herakles, by whom he may perhaps mean Bala-Rama, the brother of Krishna, but this early origin is not countenanced by the native authorities. According to the Vayu Purana[2] the city of Kusumapura or Pataliputra was founded by Raja Udayaswa, the grandson of Ajatasatru, who was the well-known contemporary of Buddha ; but the ' Mahawanso' makes Uddaya the son of Ajatasatru. According to the Buddhist accounts,[3] when Buddha crossed the Ganges, on his last journey from Rajagriha to Vaisali, the two ministers of Ajatasatru, king of Magadha, were engaged in building a fort at the village of Patali as a check upon the Wajjians, or people of Vriji. Buddha then predicted that it would become a great city. From these concurring authorities I conclude that the building of the city of Pataliputra was actually begun in the reign of Ajatasatru, but was not finished until the reign of his son, or grandson, Udaya, about B.C. 450.

The position of the city at the junction of the Ganges and Erannoboas was formerly supposed to refer to the confluence of the Gandak or Hiranyavati, which joins the Ganges immediately opposite Patna. But it has been conclusively shown by Mr. Eavenshaw[4] that the Son river formerly joined the Ganges

  1. Hist. Univers., ii. 24.
  2. Wilson's ' Vishnu Purana,' p. 467, note 45.
  3. Turnour, Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, vii. 998.
  4. Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, xiv. 137.

[p.454]: just above the city of Patna. As the Sona, or " golden " river, is also called the Hiranya-baha , ox the golden, on account of its broad yellow sands, its identification with the Erannoboas is complete both as to name and position.

Strabo and Pliny agree with Arrian in calling the people of Palibothra by the name of Prasii, which modern writers have unanimously referred to the Sanskrit prachya, or " eastern." But it seems to me that Prasii is only the Greek form of Palasiya or Parasiya, a "man of Palasa or Parasa," which is an actual and well-known name of Magadha, of which Palibothra was the capital. It obtained this name from the Palasa, or Butea frondosa, which still grows as luxuriantly in the province as in the time of Hwen Thsang.[1] The common form of the name is Parās, or when quickly pronounced Prās, which I take to be the true original of the Greek Prasii. This derivation is supported by the spelling of the name given by Curtius,[2] who calls the people Pharrasii, which is an almost exact transcript of the Indian name Parāsiya. The Praxiakos of Aelian is only the derivative form Palāsaka.

According to Hwen Thsang's estimate the province of Magadha was about 5000 li, or 833 miles, in circuit.[3] It was bounded by the Gauges on the north, by the district of Banaras on the west, by Hiranya Parvata, or Mongir, on the east, and by Kirana Suvarna, or Singbhum on the south. It must, therefore, have extended to the

  1. Julien's 'Hiouen Thsang,' i. 151 : eaa et la de beaux kie-ni, ou kanaka (Butea frondosa), laissaient pendre leurs fleurs d'un rouge (iblouissant.'
  2. ' Vita Alexandri,' ix. 2.
  3. Julien's 'Hiouen Thsang,' ii. 409.

[p.455]: Karmnasa river on the west, and to the sources of the Damuda river on the south. The circuit of these limits is 700 miles measured direct on the map, or about 800 miles by road-distance.

As Magadha was the scene of Buddha's early career as a religious reformer, it possesses a greater number of holy places connected with Buddhism than any other province of India. The chief places are. Buddha-Gaya, Kukhutapada, Rajagriha, Kusagarapura, Nalanda, Indrasilaguha, and the Kapotika monastery, all of which will be described separately, whilst the smaller places will be noticed in the account of Hwen Thsang's route to the more important localities.

Bauddha Gaya

On leaving Pataliputra the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang started from the south-west corner of the city, and proceeded for 100 li, or 16-2/3 miles, to the south-west to the monastery of Ti-lo-shi-kia or Ti-lo-tse-kia, from whence he continued his route in the same direction for 90 li, or 15 miles, to a lofty mountain from the summit of which Buddha had contemplated the kingdom of Magadha.[1] He then turned to the north-west for 30 li, or 5 miles, to visit a very large monastery on the slope of a hill, where Gunamati had worsted a heretic in argument. Then resuming his south-west route for 20 li, or 3-1/3 miles, he visited an isolated hill, and the monastery of Silabhadra, and continuing in the same direction for 40 or 50 li, 7 or 8 miles, he crossed the river Ni-lien-shen, or Nairanjan and entered the town of Kia-ye, or Gaya.[2] Before attempting to identify any of the places

  1. Julien's 'Hiouen Thsang.' ii. 439, 40, 41.
  2. Ibid., ii. 455

[p.456]: noted in this route, I must remark that there are several errors both in the bearings and distances that require to be corrected. As the direction of Gaya is very nearly due south from Patna, the several south- west bearings should certainly be altered to south. The several distances also when added together amount to only 230 li, or 38 miles, while the actual distance between the cities of Patna and Gaya is 60 miles by the high-road, and must have been about 70 miles by the route followed by Hwen Thsang. The sum of his distances is, therefore, about 200 li, or 33 miles, short of the distance actually travelled. This amount I would divide into two even sums of 100 li, and add one to each of the first two distances recorded by the pilgrim.

By adopting this double correction of bearing and distance the position of the monastery of Ti-lo-tse-kia, or Tiladaka, will be fixed at 200 li, or 33 miles, to the south of the south-west corner of the city of Patna, or as nearly as possible on the site of the town of Tillara, on the eastern bank of the Phalgu river. That this was nearly the true position of Tiladaka is proved by a later mention of the same place by the pilgrim.

When leaving the Nalanda monastery on his return to China, he went direct to Tiladaka, which he places at 3 yojanas or 21 miles, to the west of Nalanda.[1] Now the position of Nalanda, as I will hereafter show, was at the village of Baragaon, 6 miles to the north of Rajgir ; and from Baragaon to Tillara the distance is 17 miles in a direct line to the north of west, or about 20 miles by road.

The next place visited by Hwen Thsang, was the

  1. Julien's 'Hiouen Thsang,' i. 211. See Map No. XII.

[p.457]: lofty mountain from which Buddha had contemplated the country of Magadha. Following my proposed corrections, this mountain should be looked for at 190 li, or 32 miles, to the south of Tiladaka or Tillara, and at 70 li to the north-east of Gaya. These bearings and distances fix the position of Buddha's Mountain in the lofty range of hills lying between Giryek and Gaya, somewhere about 3 miles to the north-west of Vazirganj, and about the same distance to the west of Amethi. This mention of hills is very fortunate, as it proves the necessity of applying the correction in distance to the first part of the route as the nearest hill is upwards of 50 miles from Patna.

From Buddha's Mountain the pilgrim proceeded 30 li, or 5 miles, to the north-west to the large monastery of Gunamati, which was situated on a slope in a pass of the mountains. The bearing and distance point to the low range of hills on the eastern bank of the Pewar Nadi, near Nidawat. From the Gunamati monastery Hwen Thsang travelled 20 li, or 3-1/3 miles, to the south-west to the Silabhadra monastery, which was situated on an isolated hill. This position may, I think, be identified with Bithawa, an isolated hill, which is also on the eastern bank of the Pewar Nadi, 3 miles to the south-west of Nidawat. The name of Bitha, which means an artificial mound, may perhaps refer to the ruined monastery of Silabhadra.

From this place the pilgrim proceeded for about 40 or 50 li, about 7 or 8 miles, to the south-west, and crossing the Nairanjan river, entered the town of Gaya. The river is now called Phalgu, opposite Gaya, and the name of Lilajan, or Nilajan, is restricted to the western branch, which joins the Mohani 5 miles

[p.458]: above Gaya. The town was thinly peopled, but it contained about 1000 families of Brahmans. The city is still called Brahm-Gaya, to distinguish it from Bauddh-Gaya.

At 5 or 6 li, or 1 mile, to the south-west of the town stood the mountain of Gaya, which was known amongst the people of India as the divine mountain. This hill is now called Brahm-juin, or Brahmyoni, and a small temple now occupies the site of Asoka's stupa. To the south-east of the hill there were stupas of the three Kasyapas, and to the east of them, across a great river (the Phalgu), there was a mountain named, or Pragbodhi which Buddha ascended for the purpose of dwelling in silent solitude upon its summit. He had previously spent six years in silent abstraction, but having afterwards renounced his austerities, he accepted some rice and milk, and going towards the north-east, he saw this mountain, and ascended it for the purpose of resuming his austerities ; but he was disturbed by the tremblings caused by the fright of the god of the mountain, and descended on the south-west side, from whence he reached the famous Pippal-tree at Bauddha Gaya, at 15 li, or 2½ miles, to the south-west. The last distance and bearing show that the Pragbodhi mountain is the Mora Pahar of the present day, as its south-west end is exactly 2½ miles to the north-east of Bauddha Gaya. Midway in the descent there was a cave, in which Buddha rested, and sat with his legs crossed. Fa-Hian[1] mentions this cave, which he places at half a yojana, or 3½ miles, to the north-east of the Bodhi-tree. It was therefore about one mile from the

  1. Beal's 'Fah-Hian,' c. xxxi. 121.

[p.459]: southern end of the mountain. I was informed that a cave still exists on the western face.

Hwen Thsang has omitted to mention the distance of this eastern mountain from that of Gaya, or Brahm-juin, which is about 4 miles, or 24 li. The account of the earlier pilgrim, Fa-Hian, is of no assistance in this place, as he makes the distance from Kia-ye, or Gaya, to the neighbourhood of the Bodhi-tree only 20 li, or 3-1/3 miles, the actual distance being upwards of 5 miles, or more than 30 li.

Bauddha-Gaya was famous for its possession of the holy Pippal-tree under which Sakya Sinha sat for five years in mental abstraction, until he obtained Buddha-hood. The celebrated Bodhi-drum, or " Tree of Wisdom," still exists, but it is very much decayed. Immediately to the east of the tree there is a massive brick temple, nearly 50 feet square at base, and 160 feet in height. This is beyond all doubt the Vihar that was seen by Hwen Thsang in the seventh century, as he places it to the east of the Bodhi-tree, and describes it as 20 paces square at base, and from 160 to 170 feet in height.


From the Bodhi-drum Hwen Thsang crossed the river Nairanjan, and visited a stupa named Gandha-hasti, or the " Scented Elephant," near which there was a tank and a stone pillar.[1] The ruins of the stupa and the lower portion of the shaft of the pillar still exist at Bakror, on the eastern bank of the Lilajan river, about 1 mile to the south-east of Bauddha-Gaya.

Travelling eastward, the pilgrim crossed the river

  1. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' iii. 1. See Map No. XII.

[p.460]: Mo-ho, or Mohana Nadi, and entered a large forest, where lie saw another stone pillar. Then proceeding to the north-east for 100 li, or nearly 17 miles, he reached the mountain of Kiu-kiu-cha-po-tho, or Kukkutapada, or " Cock's-foot," which was remarkable for three bold peaks. According to Fa-Hian's account, the Hill of the Cock's-foot was 3 li, or half a mile, to the south of the holy tree of Bauddha-Gaya. For 3 li we should no doubt read 3 yojanas, or 21 miles, which agrees very closely with Hwen Thsang's distance of 17 miles, plus about two miles for the crossings of the two rivers, or altogether 19 miles.

I have already identified this place with the present Kurkihar, which, though omitted in the maps, is perhaps the largest place between the cities of Gaya and Bihar. It is situated 3 miles to the north-east of Vazirganj, 16 miles to the north-north-east of Gaya, and 20 miles to the north-east of Bauddha-Gaya.[1] The true name of Kurkihar is said to be Kurak-vihar, which I believe to be only a contracted form of Kukkatapada-Vihara or "Cock's-foot Temple," as the Sanskrit Kukkuta is the same word as the Hindi Kukkar, or Kurak, a " cock." The present Kurkihar therefore corresponds both in name and in position with the famous " Cock's-foot Hill " of the Buddhists. There is, however, no three-peaked hill in its neighbourhood ; but about half a mile to the north of the village three rugged hills rise boldly out of the plain, which, as they stand so close together that their bases meet, may fairly be identified with the three-peaked hill of Hwen Thsang. This identification is confirmed by the presence of several ruined mounds, in which numerous Buddhist statues and votive stupas have been found.

  1. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' iii. 6. See Map No. XII.


[p.461]:From the " Cock's-foot Hill " (Kukkutapada=Kurkihar) the pilgrim proceeded to the north-east for 100 li, or 17 miles, to a mountain called Fo-tho-fa-na, or Buddhavana.[1] The bearing and distance point to the lofty hill now called Buddhain, which, on account of its commanding position, was made one of the stations of the great trigonometrical survey. Its distance in a direct line is not more than 10 miles, but as the whole route is hilly and winding, the actual length cannot be less than 15 or 16 miles. At 30 li, or 5 miles, to the east, he visited the famous Yashtivana, or " Bambu-forest."[2] This name is still well known as Jakhti-ban, which is only the Hindi form of the Sanskrit word. The place lies to the east of the Buddhain hill, on the route to the old ruined city of Kusagarapura, and is still frequented by the people for the purpose of cutting Bambus. About 10 li, or nearly 2 miles, to the south-west of the Bambu-forest, the pilgrim visited two hot springs, to the south of a high mountain, in which Buddha was said to have bathed. These springs still exist about two miles to the south of Jakhtiban, at a place called Tapoban, which name is a common contraction of Tapta-pani, or the " Hot "Water." To the south-east of the Bambu-forest, at 6 or 7 li, upwards of 1 mile, there was a high mountain, with a stone embankment, built by King Bimbisara. This mountain corresponds with the lofty hill of Handia, 1463 feet in height, which was one of the stations of the great trigonometrical

  1. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' iii. 10.
  2. f Ibid., iii. 11.

[p.462]: survey. At 3 or 4 li, or upwards of half a mile, to the north, there was an isolated hill, on which still existed the ruins of a house in which the holy sage Vyasa had formerly dwelt. At 4 or 5 li, or 3/4 of a mile, to the north-east, there was a small hill with a chamber hewn out of the rock, and beside it a stone on which the gods Indra and Brahma had pounded the sandal-wood called Gosiras for the rubbing of Buddha's body. These two places have not been identified, but a careful search would certainly discover the sandal-wood stone, as there was close to it a very large cave, which the people called the " Palace of the Asuras." About 60 li, or 10 miles, to the east of this place, the pilgrim reached Kiu-she-kie-lo-pu-lo, or Kusagarapura, that is the " town of the Kusa Grass."[1]

Kusagarapura was the original capital of Magadha, which was called Rajagriha, or the " Royal Residence." It was also named Girivraja, or the "hill-surrounded," which agrees with Hwen Thsang's description of it as a town " surrounded by mountains." Girivraja[2] is the name given in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata to the old capital of Jarasandha, king of Magadha, who was one of the principal actors in the Great War, about 1426 B.C. The Chinese pilgrim Fa-Hian[3] describes the city as situated in a valley between five hills, at 4 li, or two-thirds of a mile, to the south of the new town of Rajagriha. The same position and about the same distance are given by Hwen Thsang, who also mentions some hot springs, which still exist. Fa-Hian

  1. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' iii. 15.
  2. Lassen, Ind. Alterthum, i. 604.
  3. Beal's 'Fah-Hian,' c. xxviii. 112.

[p.463]: further states that the " five hills form a girdle like the walls of a town," which is an exact description of Old Rajagriha, or Purana Rajgir, as it is now called by the people. A similar description is given by Tumour from the Pali annals of Ceylon, where the five hills are named Gijjhakuto, Isigili, Webharo, Wepullo, and Pandawo[1] In the Mahabharata the five hills are named Vaihara, Varaha, Vrishabha, Rishi-giri, and Chaityaka;[2] but at present they are called Baibhar-giri, Vipula-giri, Ratna-giri, Udaya-giri, and Sona-giri.

In the inscriptions of the Jain temples on Mount Baibhar, the name is sometimes written Baibhara, and sometimes Vyavahara. It is beyond all doubt the Webharo Mountain of the Pali annals, on whose side was situated the far-famed Sattapanni Cave, in front of which was held the first Buddhist synod, in 543 B.C. This cave, I believe, still exists under the name of Son Bhandar, or " Treasury of gold," in the southern face of the mountain ; but following Hwen Thsang's description, it should rather be looked for in the northern face. In the Tibetan Dulva it is called the " Cave of the Nyagrodha" or Banian-tree.[3]

Ratnagiri is due east, one mile distant from the Son Bhandar Cave. This situation corresponds exactly with Fa-Hian's position of the " Pippal-tree Cave, in which Buddha after his meals was accustomed to meditate. It was situated at 5 or 6 li (about one mile) to the east of the cave of the first Synod. The hill of Ratna-giri is therefore identical with the

  1. Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal 1838, p. 996.
  2. Lassen, Ind. Alterthum, ii. 79. The five hills are all shown in Map No. XII.
  3. Csoma de Koros in Bengal ' Asiatic Researches,' xx. 91.

[p.464]: Pandao Mountain of the Pali annals, in which Buddha dwelt, and which in the Lalita-Vistara is always styled the "King of Mountains." A paved zigzag road now leads from the eastern side of old Rajagriha to a small Jain temple on the top of Ratna-giri, which is frequently visited by Jains. I would identify it with the Rishigiri of the Mahabharata.

Mount Vipula is clearly identical with the Wepullo of the Pali annals ; and as its summit is now crowned with the ruins of a lofty stupa or chaitya, which is noticed by Hwen Thsang, I would identify it with the Chaityaka of the Mahabharata. Regarding the offer, but I may mention that they are also crowned with small Jain temples.

The old city between the hills is described by Fa-Hian to be 5 or 6 li from east to west, and 7 or 8 li from north to south, that is, from 24 to 28 li or 4-1/3 miles, in circuit. Hwen Thsang makes it 30 li, or 5 miles, in circuit, with its greatest length from east to west. My survey of the ancient ramparts gives a circuit of 24,500 feet, or 4-5/8 miles, which is between the two statements of the Chinese pilgrims. The greatest length is from north-west to south-east, so that there is no real discrepancy between the two statements as to the direction of the greatest length of the old city. Each of them must have taken his measurement from the Nekpai embankment on the east (which has been described by Major Kittoe) to some point on the north-west. If token to the Panch-Pandu angle of the ramparts, the direction would be west-north-west, and the length upwards of 8000 feet ; but if taken to the temple of Torha Devi, the direction would

[p.465]: be north-north-west, and the distance upwards of 9000 feet.

I have already quoted Fa-Hian's statement that the " five hills form a girdle like the walls of a town." This agrees with Hwen Thsang's description, who says that " high mountains surround it on four sides, and form its exterior walls, which have a circuit of 150 li or 25 miles." For this number I propose to read 50 li or 8-1/3 miles, a correction which is absolutely necessary to make the statement tally with the measurements of my survey. The following are the direct distances between the hills : —

1. From Baibhar to Vipula . . . 12,000 feet.

2. ,, Vipula to Ratna . . . 4,500 ,,

3. ,, Ratna to Udaya .... 8,600 ,,

4. „ Udaya to Sona .... 7,000 ,,

5. ,, Sona to Baibhar .... 9,000 ,,

Total . . 41,000 feet.

This is somewhat less than 8 miles, but if the as-cents and descents are taken into account, the actual length will correspond very closely with the statement of Hwen Thsang when corrected to 50 li. The old walls forming this exterior line of rampart are still to be seen in many places. " I traced them from Vipulagiri over Ratna-giri to the Nekpai embankment, and thence onwards over Udaya-giri, and across the southern outlet of the valley to Sona-giri. Across this outlet, the walls, which are still in good order, are 13 feet thick. To obtain a circuit of 25 miles, as given in Hwen Thsang's text, it would be necessary to carry these ramparts as far as Giryek on the east. As similar ramparts exist on the Giryek Hill,

[p.466]: it is perhaps possible that Hwen Thsang intended to include it in the circuit of his outer walls. But this immense circuit would not at all agree with his statement that "high mountains surround the city on four sides," for the distant hill of Giryek cannot in any way be said to form one of the sides of old Raja-griha.

The hot springs of Rajagriha are found on both banks of the Sarsuti rivulet ; one-half of them at the eastern foot of Mount Baibhar, and the other half at the western foot of Mount Vipula. The former are named as follows: — 1. Ganga-Jumna; 2. Anant Eikhi; 3. Sapt Rikhi ; 4. Brahm-kund ; 5. Kasyapa Rikhi ; 6. Byas-kund ; and 7. Markand-kund.

The hottest of these are the springs of the Sapt Rikhi. The hot springs of Mount Vipula are named as follows: — 1. Sita-kund; 2. Suraj-kund; 3. Ganes-kund; 4. Chandrama-kund ; 5. Ram-kund ; and 6. Sringgi-Rikhi-kund.

The last spring has been appropriated by the Musalmans, by whom it is called Makhdum-kund, after a celebrated saint named Chillali Shah, whose tomb is close to the spring. It is said that Chilla was originally called Chilwa, and that he was an Ahir. He must therefore have been a converted Hindu.

To the north-east of the old town, at a distance of 15 li or 2½ miles, Hwen Thsang places the celebrated hill of Gridhra-kuta, or the "Vulture's Peak." According to Fa-Hian[1] it was 15 li, or 2½ miles, to the south-east of the new town. Both of our authorities, there-fore, agree in fixing the Vulture's Peak on the lofty hill now called Saila-giri, or the " Rocky-Mountain ;"

  1. Beal's 'Fah-Hian,' c. xxix.

[p.467]: but I could not hear of the existence of any cave in this hill. Fa-Hian calls it "Hill of the Vulture's Cave," and notes that there were also several hundreds of caves of the Arhans in which they sat to meditate. I presume that these were small rooms built against the cliff, and that the walls having fallen down, the names have been forgotten. The joint authority of the two pilgrims is too strong to be doubted; and future research will perhaps discover some remains of these once holy cave-dwellings.


The new town of Rajagriha is placed by Fa-Hian at 4 li, or two-thirds of a mile, to the north of the old town, which agrees exactly with the position of the ruined fortress now called Rajgir.

The new town of Rajagriha is said to have been built by King Srenika, otherwise called Bimbisara, the father of Ajatasatru, the contemporary of Buddha. Its foundation cannot therefore be placed later than 560 B.C. according to Buddhist chronology. In Hwen Thsang's time (A.D. 629-642), the outer walls had already become ruinous, but the inner walls were still standing and occupied a circuit of 20 li (3-1/3 miles). This statement corresponds tolerably well with the measurements of my survey, which make the circuit of the ramparts somewhat less than 3 miles. Buchanan calls new Eg,jagriha an irregular pentagon of 12,000 yards in diameter. This is clearly a misprint for 1200 yards, which would give a circuit of 11,300 feet, or 2-1/8 miles ; but this was probably the interior measurement, which, according to my survey, is 13,000 feet. The plan of new Rajagriha I make out to be

[p.468]: an irregular pentagon of one long side and four nearly equal sides, the wliole circuit being 14,260 feet out- side tlie ditches, or rather less than 3 miles.

On the south side towards the hills a portion of the interior, 2000 feet long and 1500 feet broad, has been cut off to form a citadel. The stone walls retaining the earthen ramparts of this work are still in good order in many places. It is possible that this work may be of later date, as suggested by Buchanan, but I am of opinion that it was simply the citadel of the new town, and that its walls have suffered less from the effects of time, owing partly to their having been more carefully and more massively built than the less important ramparts of the town, and partly to their having been occasionally repaired as a military posi- tion by the authorities, while the repairs of the town walls were neglected as being either unnecessary or too costly.


Due north from Rajgir and 7 miles distant lies the village of Baragaon, which is quite surrounded by ancient tanks and ruined mounds, and which possesses finer and more numerous specimens of sculpture than any other place that I visited. The ruins of Baragaon are so immense, that Dr. Buchanan was convinced it must have been the usual residence of the King ; and he was informed by a Jain priest at Bihar, that it was the residence of Raja Srenika and his ancestors. By the Brahmans these ruins are said to be the remains of Kundilpur, a city famed as the birthplace of Rukmini, one of the wives of Krishna. But as Rukmini was the daughter of Raja Bhishma, of Vidarbha,

[p.469]: or Berar, it seems probable that the Brahmans have mistaken Berar for Bihar, which is only 7 miles distant from Baragaon. I therefore doubt the truth of this Brahmanical tradition, more especially as I can show beyond all doubt that the remains at Baragaon are the ruins of Nalanda, the most famous seat of Buddhist learning in all India.

Fa-Hian places the hamlet of Nalo at 1 yojana, or 7 miles, from the Hill of the Isolated Rock, that is from Giryek, and also the same distance from new Rajagriha.[1] This account agrees exactly with the position of Baragaon, with respect to Giryek and Rajgir. In the Pali annals of Ceylon also, Nalanda is stated to be 1 yojana distant from Rajagriha. Again, Hwen Thsang describes Nalanda as being 7 yojanas, or 49 miles, distant from the holy Pipal-tree at Buddha Gaya, [2]which is correct if measured by the road, the direct distance measured on the map being 40 miles. He also describes it as being about 30 li, or 5 miles, to the north of new Rajagriha. This distance and direction also correspond with the position of Baragaon, if the distance be measured from the most northerly point of the old ramparts. Lastly, in two inscriptions, which I discovered on the spot, the place itself is called Nalanda.

Fa-Hian makes Nalanda the birthplace of Sariputra, who was the right-hand disciple of Buddha ; but this statement is not quite correct, as we learn from the more detailed account of Hwen Thsang that Sariputra was born at Kalapinaka, about halfway between Nalanda and Indra-Sila-Guha, or about 4 miles to the south-east of the former place. Nalanda has also been called

  1. Beal'a 'Fah-Hian,' c. xxviii. p. 111.
  2. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' i. 143.

[p.470]: the birthplace of Maha Mogalana, who was the left- hand disciple of Buddha ; but this is not quite correct, as the great Mogalana, according to Hwen Thsang, was born at Kulika, 8 or 9 li (less than 1½ mile) to the south-west of Nalanda. This place I was able to identify with a ruined mound near Jagdispur, at 1-1/4 mile to the south-west of the ruins of Baragaon.

The remains at Baragaon consist of numerous masses of brick ruins, amongst which the most conspicuous is a row of lofty conical mounds running north and south. These high mounds are the remains of gigantic temples attached to the famous monastery of Nalanda. The great monastery itself can be readily traced by the square patches of cultivation, amongst a long mass of brick ruins, 1600 feet by 400 feet. These open spaces show the positions of the courtyards of the six smaller monasteries which are described by Hwen Thsang as being situated within one enclosure forming altogether eight courts. Five of the six monasteries were built by five consecutive princes of the same family, and the sixth by their successor, who is called king of Central India.

To the south of the monastery there was a tank in which the dragon or Naga, Nalanda, was said to dwell, and the place was accordingly named after him, Nalanda. There still exists to the south of the ruined monastery a small tank called Kargidya Pokhar, that answers exactly to the position of the Nalanda tank, and which is therefore, in all probability, the identical pool of the Naga.

I cannot close this account of the ancient Nalanda without mentioning the noble tanks which surrounded the ruins on all sides. To the north-east are the

[p.471]: Gidi Pokhar and the Pansokar Pokhar, each nearly one mile in length; while to the south there is the Indra Pokhar, which is nearly half a mile in length. The remaining tanks are much smaller in size, and do not require any special notice.

Indrasila Guha

From the neighbourhood of Gaya two parallel ranges of hills stretch towards the north-east for about 36 miles to the bank of the Panchana river, just opposite the village of Giryek. The eastern end of the southern range is much depressed, but the northern range maintains its height, and ends abruptly in two lofty peaks overhanging the Panchana river. The lower peak on the east is crowned with a solid tower of brick- work, well known as, Jarasandha-ka-baithak, or " Jarasandha's throne," while the higher peak on the west, to which the name of Giryek peculiarly belongs, bears an oblong terrace covered with the ruins of several buildings. The principal ruin would appear to have been a vihar, or temple, on the highest point of the terrace, which was approached by a steep flight of steps leading through pillared rooms.

The two peaks are connected by a steep pavement, which was formerly continued down to the foot of the hill opposite the village of Giryek. At all the commanding points and bends of this road are still to be seen the stone foundations of small brick stupas from 5 and 6 feet to upwards of 12 feet in diameter. At the foot of the upper slope, and within 50 feet of Jarasandha's Tower, a tank 100 feet square has been formed, partly by excavation, and partly by building up. There is a second tank, at a short distance to

[p.472]: the north, formed by the excavation of the rock for building materials. Both of these tanks are now dry.

At 2 miles to the south-west of the village of Giryek, and 1 mile from Jarasandha's Tower, there is a natural cavern in the southern face of the mountain, about 250 feet above the bed of the Banganga rivulet. This cave, called Gidha-dwar, is generally believed to communicate with Jarasandha's Tower; but an examination with torches proved it to be a natural fissure running upwards in the direction of the tower, but only 98 feet in length. The mouth of the cavern is 10 feet broad and 17 feet high; but its height diminishes rapidly towards the end. The cave is filled with bats, and the air is oppressively warm and disagreeable, which alone is sufficient to prove that there is no exit to the cavern, otherwise there would be a drought of air right through it. Vultures swarm about the precipitous cliff's of pale grey horn stone, and I picked up their feathers in the mouth of the cave.

The remains at Giryek, which I have just described, appear to me to correspond exactly with the accounts given by Fa-Hian of the " Hill of the Isolated Rock," where Indra questioned Buddha on forty-two points ; and with that given by Hwen Thsang of Indra-sila-guha, which refers to the same story.

The position of Giryek corresponds so exactly, both in bearing and distance, with that of the hill of Indra-sila-guha, that I feel quite satisfied of their identity. No etymology has yet been proposed for the name of Giryek ; but it seems to me not unlikely that it is nothing more than Giri + eka, "one hill," that is, the hill of the isolated rock of Fa-Hian.

Both of the pilgrims mention the cave in the

[p.473]: southern face of the mountain, which corresponds exactly with the natural cavern Gidha-dwar, which I have already described. Gidha-dwar, in Sanskrit Gridhradwara, means the "Vulture's pass, or opening. By Hwen Thsang the cave is called Indra-sila-guha, or " the cave of Indra's stone," being thus named after a stone on which were delineated the 42 points on which Indra had questioned Buddha. Fa-Hian adds that Indra himself drew the marks upon the stone with his finger.

According to Fa-Hian the hill of the " Isolated Rock " was 8 yojanas, or 56 miles, to the south-west of Pataliputra, the capital of Magadha, and 1 yojana, or 7 miles, to the east of Nalanda. Hwen Thsang visited several places on his route from Nalanda ; but the result of his different bearings and distances places Indra-sila-guha at 46 li, or 7-2/3 miles, to the east-south- east of Nalanda. The actual distance between Baragaon and Giryek is about 9 miles, and the direction is somewhat to the west of south-west. If we read his south-east and east bearings as south-south-east and east-south-east the general direction will be south-east, and the distance will be increased to 8 miles, which is sufficiently near the truth to warrant the proposed correction.


To the north-east of the isolated mountain of Giryek the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang travelled from 150 to 160 li, or from 25 to 27 miles, to the Kapotika, or " Pigeon Monastery." Half a mile to the south there was a high solitary hill, on which stood a large vihara of Avalokeswara, surrounded by a multitude of sculptured buildings. This place I would identify with Bihar,

[p.474]: 11 miles to the north-north-east of Giryek, by reading 60 li, or 10 miles, instead of the 160 li of the text.[1] In our maps the name is spelt Behar, but by the people it is written and pronounced Bihar, which is sufficient to show that it must once have been the site of some famous Buddhist Vihar. For this reason I am strongly inclined to identify the great Vihara of Avalokiteswara, which stood on the top of a hill, with the present Bihar, and its great isolated mountain covered with ruins. The hill stands to the north-west of the city of Bihar, with a precipitously steep cliff on its northern face, and an easy slope of successive ledges of rock on the southern face. The summit is now crowned by some Muhammadan buildings; but I discovered amongst the ruins some fragments of Buddhist statues and votive stupas.

To the south-east of the Pigeon Monastery the pilgrim travelled for 40 li, or nearly 7 miles, to another monastery, which stood on an isolated hill. The bearing and distance point to the great ruined mound of Titarawa, which is exactly 7 miles to the south-east of Bihar. Titarawa means " Partridge Mound," that is, the francolin or grey partridge. At Titarawa there is a fine large tank, 1200 feet in length, with a considerable mound of brick ruins to the north, which from its square form has all the appearance of being the re-mains of a monastery.

From this place Hwen Thsang resumed his north- easterly route, and at 70 li, or nearly 12 miles, he reached a large village on the south bank of the

  1. M. Vivien de Saint-Martia has already noted his suspicion that the 150 to 160 li of the text should be 50 or 60 li. ' Hiouen Thsang," iii. 385, note. See Map No. XII.

[p.475]: Ganges. But as the nearest point of the river is 25 miles distant, we must read 170 li, or 29 miles, by-adding the round number of 100 li, which was deducted from the previous journey between Giryek and the Pigeon Monastery.

I have considered these two corrections necessary, because Hwen Thsang specially notices the great height of the hill near the Kapotika monastery ; and as I am not aware of the existence of any hills to the north or north-east of Bihar and Titarawa, I am obliged to shorten the one distance and lengthen the other to make Hwen Thsang' s account of his route tally with the actual features of the country. There is a hill at Shekhpura, about 25 miles to the east-north- east of Giryek, 665 feet in height, which might perhaps be the true position of the Pigeon Monastery ; but the adoption of this position would involve an alteration in the subsequent direction of the route, as well as in the distance, as Shekhpura is 20 miles from the Ganges. For these reasons I think that the identification with Bihar is preferable. In either case the village on the Ganges must be looked for near Daryapur, which is 34 miles due west from Mongir in a direct line.

The pilgrim then proceeded to the east for 100 li, or nearly 17 miles, to the monastery and village of Lo-in-ni-lo, which M. Vivien de Saint-Martin has identified with Rohinila[1] or Rohinala, on the Ganges. The actual bearing is nearly south-east ; but as the pilgrim fol- lowed the course of the river, there must be a mistake in his text.

27. Hiranya Parvata.

At 200 li, or 33 miles, to the east of Rohinala, Hwen Thsang reached the capital of the kingdom of I-lan-na-po-fa-ta, or Hiranya-Parvata, that is, the "Golden Mountain." Close to the city stood Mount Hiranya, " from which issued smoke and vapours that darkened the sun and moon."[2] The position of this hill is determined, from its proximity to the Ganges, and from its bearings and distances from Rohinala and Champa, to be Mongir. No smoke now issues from the hill, but the numerous hot springs in the neighbouring hills show that volcanic action still exists within a few miles of Mongir. These hot springs are mentioned by Hwen Thsang.

The advantageous position of this isolated hill on the bank of the Ganges, which commanded the land route between the hills and the river, as well as the water route by the Ganges, must have led to its occupation at a very early date. Accordingly it is mentioned in the Mahabharata as Modagiri (मोदागिरि), which was the capital of a kingdom in eastern India, near Banga and Tamralipta, or Bengal and Tamluk. At the time of Hwen Thsang's visit the king had been lately ejected by the Raja of a neighbouring state. The kingdom was bounded by the Ganges on the north, and by great forest-clad mountains on the south ; and as its circuit is estimated at 3000 li, or 500 miles, it must have extended to the south as far as the famous mountain of Parasnath, which has an elevation of 4478 feet. I would therefore fix its limits as extending from Lakhi Sarai to Sultanganj on the Ganges in the north,

  1. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' iii. 385.
  2. Julien's 'Hiouen Thsang,' iii. 65-66.

[p.477]: and from the western end of the Parasnath hill to the junction of the Barakar and Damuda rivers in the south. The circuit of this tract is 350 miles, measured direct on the map, or upwards of 420 miles by- road distance following the windings of the two rivers.

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