| Nawalparasi is one
of the most important district of Nepal from the Archaeological
point of view. Besides many archaeological ruins, this district
has an ancient stupa in Ramagrama, which according to many scholars
is among the oldest stupa of Nepal. It is believed that this
contains the relic of Buddha inside this stupa. Rama Grama is
situated 5.3 km south east from Parasi, the head quarters of
Nawal Parasi, south of Deurawa village, north of Billaspur,
east of Ujjaini, west of Deau village and on the bank of the
stream Jharahi. Considering its historical and archaeological
importance the government has announced this area as Ramagram
Municipality. The site is located in 830 41' 05" E and
270 29' 55" N on the height of 107 m from MSL1
According to Buddhist literature Sujat was the King of Saketa.
He had have
four sons and five daughters from his first wife. After her
death the king married for second time. When the second queen
gave birth to a son, she put her desire and also insisted
the king to make her son the heir of the king and he must
succeed the throne after the king.. Hence, the nine children
of the first queen were forced to leave Saketa Kingdom.
The expatriated children moved toward the north side and
reached a place where the ascetic Kapila was residing on the
bank of the river Bhagirathi, known as Ban Ganga. The anchorite
gave them permission to settle there and the site gradually
developed. It was given the name of Kapilavastu after the
name of ascetic Kapila. The four brothers married their four
younger sisters, and they declared the eldest sister Priya
as their "queen mother". In course of time, Priya
suffered from Leprosy and left Kapilavastu and resided in
a cave in a nearby forest. Coincidentally, the King of Varanasi,
named Rama had also been suffering from the same disease.
He took his retirement and abandoned his Kingdom to his son
and proceeded for Banabas (settling in the forest as a hermit
or sage in the same forest). Fortunately, he was cured of
the disease while sitting under a Kolam (Nauclea Cardifolia)
tree. Priya also had been cured of the disease immediately
after the king's recovery in the same manner. They married
and they founded a city near by and named it Koliyanagara
or Koliyapur, after the name of the tree Kolam which have
cured them from the dreadful disease. The descendants became
Koliya, after the name of the tree. The city is also called
Rama Grama after the name of King Rama. The literature also
mentioned that the God showed them a place near by a tank
to stay. So the state of Koliya was also known as Devadaha
(god's lake in Sanskrit). Koliya dynasty has the root in Koliyanagara.
Some literature also mention the place as Vyaghra-pura. There
is a story about why it is being called Vyaghra-pura or tiger
town (Hardy's 'Manual of Buddhism, Pg. 136)2
. Priya, when she was in a cave was assault by a tiger. She
cried for help and King Rama came for her rescue Thus the
tiger became the cause of their first meeting resulting ultimately
to the marriage.. So the name of the place became Vyaghra-pura.
In course of time, the Koliya of Devaduha established the
matrimonial relations with the Sakyas dynasty3
. Suddhodana (the Buddha father, married with Maya Devi. Thus
it has been Buddha maternal uncles house and the city of his
father in law. It is believed that after Nirvana of Buddha
his relic was brought in Ramagrama by Koliya and this stupa
The Buddhist literature mention these places repeatedly as
Koliyanagara, Dev-daha, Byaghrapur and Ramgrama. They are
the name of the same place or different is a subject of study.
After death of Buddha his body was cremated and priest Drona
divided relic from his Tumbo (A large dried gourd) in eight
parts for Astha Maha Jana Pada (eight republicans) kings.
They are namely Magadh, Vaishali, Kapilbastu, Allakappa, Koliyanagara,
Vathadipa, Pava and Kusinagara4 .
So Koliyanagara received one part of relic and king of that
nagar built the Stupa containing the relic in Ramagrama. This
stupa is near the bank of river Jharai . Archaeologically
we find here a religious site with a prominent mound of stupa
and remains of bricks layers.
According to Mahawanso (The Ceylonese Chronicler) the stupa
of Ramagrama was washed away by the river Ganges. The relic
casket, was carried down the river to the ocean, was discovered
by Nagas or water gods, and presented to their king, who built
a stupa for its reception. During the reign of Dutthagamini
of Ceylon in the year B.C. 161 to 137, the casket was miraculously
obtained from the Nagas King by the holy monk Sonuttaro, and
enshrined in the Mahathupo, or "great Stupa" in
the land of Sri Lanka5 .
Literature mentions that the Imperial (the Great) King Ashok
(3rd century .B.C.) had planned to construct eighty four thousands
stupa after breaking the relics of Astha Maha Jana Pada into
pieces . Ashok went on dividing the relics and built stupas.
He was successful to open the seventh stupas of different
Janapadas he proceeded to Ramagrama for the eighth relic and
while started the work the Naga (serpent) apprehending the
desecration of the place, changed himself into the form of
a Brahman and appeared in front of Emperor Ashok and bowed
down and said "Maharaja", Your feeling are well
affected to the law of Buddha, and you have largely planted
(good seed) in the field of religious merit. May I venture
to ask you to detain your carriage a while and condescend
to visit my dwellings" .The King asked where was his
dwelling? Was it near at distance? The Brahman replied that
he is the King of Naga of the lake. When he heard that the
emperor had desired to build a superior field of merit then
he had ventured to ask emperor to visit his abode. Ashok,
accepting the exhortation, immediately entered the Naga precinct
and sat there for some time. Then the Naga said to him, because
of his evil Karma he had received Naga body and by performing
a religious service to Sariras of Buddha he had desired to
atone for and efface of his guilt. Hence the king would himself
go and inspect (Stupa or relics) with a view to worship. King
having known, was filled with agitation and said " All
these appliances for worship are unlike anything seen amongst
men." The Naga replied "If it be so, would the king
not attempt to destroy the stupa." Then the king decided
not to open the stupa at the spot where the Naga request him6
. This story is treasured by carving very beautifully in Sanchi
Stupa which can still be studied there.
Chinese Pilgrims Fa-hian and Hiuen Tsiang (5th & 7th
century .A.D.) also
have mentioned about Rama grama (Lan-Mo). This place is in
the south-east of the old capital (Ramagrama). There is a
brick stupa with a height of less than 100 feet. By the side
of the stupa there is a clean lake (tank). A dragon, at a
certain period, comes forth and walks here, and changing his
form and snake-like exterior, marches round the stupa , circumambulate
to pay its honour. The wild elephants also used to come in
herds, gathered flowers, and scattered them there as a homage
to Buddha7 . Local habitants here
compelled by those mysterious power, have continued to offer
this service. From Lumbini Fa-Hian makes the distance 5 yojans
or 35 miles to the east and Hwen Thsang gives 200 li or 33
and half miles in the same direction8
. It is correct as per the present location wise.
The scholar Cunninghum and Carllyle tried much to fix the
site but could not come to the nearest point. Renowned scholar
Thomas Watters an authority of Chinese source of Buddhist
records and the writer describe the location of Ramagrama.
"It is unnecessary now to notice the opinions of General
Cunningham and Mr. Carllyle as to the modern representative
of Rama of our pilgrims. Further researches in Nepal Terai
may lead to the discovery of some trust worthy indications
as to the site of the old city"9.
After 7th century A.D. no body has spoken about this stupa.
Besides, not any study nor its exploration could have been
done. Thus there is much shortage of materials for research
and study. Even during the Chinese traveller visit period
this place had taken a shape of dense and big forest.
Only in 1898 after Dr. Hoey arrival at the place this stupa
was mentioned after a lapse of times as he brought forward
many things about this stupa in his writings. He recorded
only fifty feet height of the stupa and he was silent about
Prof. Shantaram Balchandra Deo (S. B. Deo) visited this place
in 1964 and published photo of this stupa. He mentioned the
height of stupa as 30ft and its circumference about 70 ft.
He has suggested in his report for the excavation of this
stupa and its vicinity10 .
In 1976 Nepalese archaeologist Babu Krishna Rijal visited
this place and claimed this stupa as Ramagrama on the basis
of Chinese traveller's documents, geographical location and
the prominence of the mound.
When author of these lines was there in 1996, the local habitants
are worshipping this stupa during that period of Ram Nawami
( Birthday of Lord Rama) The legend is if the worship is ignored
the wild boar would come and destroy their harvesting. It
was believed that if any body would take the brick away from
the where is as is position he/she would be bitten to death
by the serpent. This legend was the main reason for why the
stupa has yet been preserved.
For a long time it has remained as a non-entity. The vicinity
could not be explored and excavated properly and scientifically.
In 1996 (15 January. 28 July, 27 November) some Indian Local
Paper published from Gorakhpur, U.P., India has claimed that
they have found stupa of Ramagrama in south of Nawalparasi
of Maharajgang district , UP, India, which is baseless.
After more than two decades, it was om 1997 that the geo-physical
survey around Ramagrama stupa was conducted by the Bradford
University of United Kingdom in collaboration with the Department
of Archaeology and the financial support from UNESCO World
Heritage Committee. The result showed some monastic complex
in a field believed by the people to be an unlucky field,
This field is located only four meter away on north west direction
from the stupa mound. The monastic complex as recorded by
geo-physical survey in fluxgate gradeometre HP(r-4) - 9..9nt
and Earth Resistance (12.25 Ohms) is shown in following plan.
Fluxgate Gradiometre (HP(r = 4)-9..nt11
Nepalese archaeologist Sukra Sagar Shrestha opened the monastic
complex in January 1999. It was the first excavation in this
whole Nawalparasi district. The biggest trench was 50 x 50,
second 25 x 25 and third 4 x 4 mt. After excavation it was
reconfirmed that the picture shown in the survey is a monastic
complex. This is just a four meters away from the stupa plinth.
The archaeologist opines that he has hit the monastery which
was described by Chinese Pilgrims Fa-hien and Hiuen Tsiang
(5th/7th century A.D.). He has open so far total of five trenches
and has brought to light enough data of monastery. The following
findings are recorded12 . "The
monastic complex measure 13.5 x 13.5 mt. having 2.40 mt. wide
rooms and courtyard of 4.80 mt. square. The size of the wall
is 115 cm. to 125 cm. thick and brick sizes are of 6 x 19
x 30 cm., and 6 x 23 x 36 cm. Surprisingly no evidence of
roof tiles are recovered. Showing the roofs to be covered
by organic materials most probably the thatch. Being a Sramanera
monastery by the complex is comparatively a smaller one and
it tallies with the description of Fa-hien and Hiuen Tsing,
who saw there only few monks living"13.
He found special stone used by the monks as needle sharpener
and few decorative brick are collected. No special antiquities
are encountered except a small copper or bronze rod. The monastic
complex is simply four metres away from the stupa which is
divided by a roughly paved road with brick bats14
The older accumulate below the foundation of the monastery
from which came out the fire places, black and red ware with
grey ware potsherds as well15 .
The fall of the bricks from the stupa was recovered after
the discontinuation of the monastery may be the major flood
activity. In all trenches one can see a huge layer of flood
deposit. But when did the flood occurred is still a question
To conclude, this is the first excavation done in this area.
Hope if we do continue cutting of the trenches we will reach
in our goal. A long journey starts from the single step.