Ancient pond and Buddhist vihara discovered at Ramgram Stupa

NAWALPARASI: Remains of an ancient pond and a Buddhist vihara have been found at the Ramgram Stupa in Nawalparasi district.

The stupa houses the astadhatu (relics) of Lord Gautam Buddha. This is the only complete astadhatu out of eight such remains of the Buddha.

Remnants of the pond and the vihara or monastery related to the life of Gautam Buddha have been traced after carrying out geophysics survey at the Ujjaini Ramgram Stupa area of Ramgram-7, Nawalparasi district.

The geophysics survey has been carried out at the Ramgram stupa area after a gap of 19 years.

Remnants of the ancient pond measuring 40 metres long and 25 metres wide have been found some distance outside of the north-west corner of the stupa in the course of survey.

Similarly, the remains of a 60-metre long and 30-metre wide monastery have also been traced in the vicinity, archaeologist at the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT), Krishna KC said.

A team of experts and archaeologists of Durham University of UK and Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) conducted the geophysics survey at Ramgram stupa. The survey is being led by Prof Duncan of the University. It is being carried out to discover the ancient structures including the pond, vihara and roads that are 1 to 1.5 metres below the ground, without harming these remnants and artifacts.

Geophysics survey has been conducted in Lumbini, Kapilvastu and other areas since 2011 in course of the archaeological exploration of the greater Lumbini region. This year the survey has been carried out at Ramgram.

KC said that important discovery has been made from the present survey which will support further archaeological explorations to be carried out in the Ramgram stupa area in the coming days. According to him, this survey will help find out what structures are located in which specific locations in the stupa area.

Before this, geophysical survey had been conducted towards the west of the stupa in 1999 and the Department of Archaeology also carried out an excavation. At that time the excavation works had to be halted as the land in the area was cited as personal property. But the LDT purchased these private plots and hoped the land area would be preserved.

Ancient bricks and relics have been found underground in the fields around the Ramgram stupa area.

Locals have demanded that the archaeological remains and relics unearthed from excavations carried out at Ramgram stupa and Panditpur areas should be preserved by constructing a museum in the area.

The LDT has stated that it has been paying special attention to the development of Ramgram area. Vice-chair of the LDT, Bhikshu Maitya (Awasesh Tiwari) said that LDT has focused its attention on the development of Ramgram and Tilaurakot along with Lumbini during his 5-year term in the office.

He said an extensive gathering of the people's representatives and local stakeholders from the area would be organised to collect suggestions for formulating a master plan of the stupa area. The LDT vice-chair also added that he was making vigorous efforts to formulate a plan so as to bring at least 800 thousand tourists to Ramgram Stupa out of the 1.5 million tourists who visit Lumbini every year.