Remains of Ancient Vaishali and Ashoka Pillar , Kolhua ,Vaishali, Bihar , India
Kolhua, a part and parcel of ancient city of Vaishali marks the spot where a local chief of monkeys had offered a bowl of honey to Lord Buddha. The event is regarded as one of the eight most signigicant events of his life. According to the Buddhist literature, this was the place where Buddha spent many of the rainy seasons, Allowed Nuns to the Sangha for the first time , announced his approaching Nirvana and converted Amarpali from a proud court dancer to a nun.
The recent excavation conducted by Archaeological Survey of India have revealed remains of Kutagarshala , Swastika shaped monastery , a tank, number of votive stupas and miniature shrines in addition to main Stupa and the Ashokan Pillar which were exposed earlier.
The pillar locally known as Lat is 11.00 meters high monolithic polished sand stone column surmounted by a seated Loin capital. It is probably one of the earliest pillars of Ashoka which does not bear the usual Edict . But a few letters in Shell character of Gupta Period are engraved on it.
The Brick stupa was erected to commemorate the event of offering honey to Buddha by the monkey chief. It was originally built during Mauryan Period and subsequently enlarged in Kushana period by raising the hight and providing brick paved circumbulatory path. Further brick encasing and addition of Ayakas at regular interval took place during Gupta and late Gupta periods
Beads of semi-precious stones , terracotta figurines , seals & sealings , bricks embedded with semi-precious stones , inscribed potsherd and a unique terracotta figure of crowned monkey are some of the noteworthy antiquities found during excavation of this site.
The adjoining tank has been identified as “Markat-Hrid” supposedly dug by the monkeys for Buddha. This brick lined seven tiered tank measuring approximately 65 x 35 meters in dimension has two bathing ghats on southern and western wings.
The Kutagarshala represents the spot were Buddha used to stay during the rainy seasons spent at Vaishali .Excavation have exposed three phase of its construction. Originally it was a small chaitya built during Sunga-Kushan period. Subsequently it was enlarged to a lofty temple in second phase during Gupta period. And finally in the third phase the temple was converted into a monastery by providing a number of partition walls during post Gupta period.
This twelve room monastery looks like a Swastika on a plan having three rooms on each arm attached to common verandah around an open central courtyard having entrance towards east. The monastery has a toilet chamber attached to its southern wall. It was constructed during Gupta period probably for the nuns.