Archaeological Sites in Bihar
Brief description of important archaeological sites/monuments
- Agam Kuan, Patna
Agam Kuan, considered as Patna's most quaint
monument, is famous for its two important relics â€“ both enveloped in the
mystery of legends. The first is Agam Kuan (the unfathomable well), the
fabled huge well fed with the Ashokan legends. The other is the famous
temple of Shitala Devi, the goddess of the smallpox, a associated with
lots of miracles.
The site is situated at a short distance
south-west of Gulzarbagh Station. Agam Kuan is a huge well, circular in
plan, with a diameter extending over 20'2". It is brick-encased in the
upper half of its depth. As many as eight arched windows, all at regular
intervals, adorn the well just above the ground and form its most
The well is 105' deep, as far has been fathomed and
recorded. Upto a depth of 44' from the surface, a finely worked
brick-casing is envisaged. The lower half, a further depth of 61' is,
however, secured by a series of wooden rings.
The adjacent temple housing the image of Shitala
Devi, and the pindas of the 'Saptamatrikas' (the seven mother forms), is
widely revered and worshipped not only for containing the small-pox,
but for fulfilling all sorts of desires. The site once contained several
ancient and medieval sculptures. Of these, at least one was that of the
Yaksha of the Mauryan art-affiliation. This is what Cunninghum reported
when he visited the site in 1879-80. But we have no idea now of its
Waddell on his exploration of the ruins of
Patliputra during 1890s identified Agam Kuan with the legendary hell
built by Ashoka for torturing people as cited by the Chinese travellers
of the 5th and 7th centuries A.D. Another legend, still very strong, is
that Ashoka threw 99 of his elder brothers in this well after killing
them, in order to become king. The site also feeds the Jain legends. The
most famous of them is about a Jain Monk Sudarshana who, when thrown
into the well by an atrocious king Chand, was found floating over its
water seated on the lotus.
People, at large, believe the well's water to be endowed with miraculous power, and the well auspicious.
- Durakhi Devi Temple, Patna
This is a detatched member of a carved railing
of a stupa. The piece of the stone shows the semi-nude female figures on
both of its faces, hence earned the name of 'Durukhi' or 'Durukhiya'
(double faced) Devi. It was discovered by Waddell way back in 1890s
while excavating the site Kumhrar, which eventually became famous for
the unique Pillared Hall built by the Mauryas. Sometime afterwards (no
authentic record is available on this count), it was brought down to its
present location at Naya Tola (Kankarbagh) about a kilometer west and
has been kept in a temple-like shed, where it is being also worshipped.
This is a fine specimen of the Shunga art of the
2nd-1st Century B.C. As these female figures are shown grabbing and
breaking branches of trees with one of their hands, they are considered
to be representing the 'Shalabhanjikas' (the breaker of branches), the
young women under a ritual associated with fertility, that was popular
during the early historic period in this part of India.
A replica of this image is displayed in the Patna
Museum's sculptural gallery. A comparable bifacial female figure was
accidentally discovered in the recent past from Rajendra Nagar locality
in Patna which is also displayed in the same gallery.
- Choti Patandevi, Patna
This temple is situated in the chowk area of
Patna City and once was considered as the main presiding deity of Patna.
Over the years it has slipped to the second position of eminence as
city's presiding deity, with epithet 'Choti' (smaller) to the more
popular one, the Bari (bigger) Patan Devi. But Buchanan's account is
very specific in stating that it was this very temple (Choti Patendevi)
which held the primary position as the city's presiding deity during
18th and early 19th century.
The present temple does not seem to be of any great
antiquity. The images inside the temple, if Buchanan is to be believed,
were installed by Man Singh, the famous general of Mughal emperor Akbar.
The temple, however, houses a host of intact and severed Brahmanical
images, including, Ganesh, Vishnu and Surya. Beyond the temple, but
within its precincts, lie in open fragments of door jumbs/lintels and
yet other set of images, Of these, an impressive, but broken sun-image
is the most conspicuous. It is very likely that some early medieval
temple was built here sometime in 9th-11th Century A.D. and these
fragmentary stray sculptural/structural relics are only its ruins.
Probably, these were reinstalled in a new temple, built during the
16th-17th century by Man Singh. But authentic information on this count
is woefully wanting.
- Begu Hajjam's Mosque, Patna
This has the honour of being the oldest mosque
in Patna, which pre-dates the reigns of Mughals. Interestingly, the
mosque is named after its reinnovator and not the builder. It is
situated in the Khawaja Kalan Ghat Road of Patna City.
The mosque was built by one Khan Muazzam Nazir Khan
during the reign of Alauddin Shah Sultan of Gaur (Bengal) in the year
1509-10 A.D. (A.H. 916). Subsequently, in the year 1645 A.D. (A.H.
1056), it was reinnovated by one Begu Hajjam.
The distinctive features of the mosque is its glazed
tiles as was popular in Gaur those days. The doorway with fine carvings
is another important feature of the mosqueAn inscription affixed in the mosque records details of its construction.
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