Discoveries of Buddhist remains at Vadnagar and Taranga in the light of Xuanzang’s (Hiuen Tsang) travels to Gujarat in 641 CE by the State and Central Departments of Archeology have confirmed that northern Gujarat was once an important region which provided a solid foundation for the development of many Buddhists. centers, experts said.
Detailed discussions during the three-day international Vadnagar conference inaugurated Wednesday in Gandhinagar by archaeological experts who have worked at the sites for nearly two decades confirmed Xuanzang’s description of many places he visited to deliver Buddhist vestiges, including the discovery of the monastery of Vadnagar which attests to his visit. at this location in the middle of the 7th century CE as well as a large Buddhist settlement identified at Taranga in the Vadnagar district from where idols of Tara along with other Buddhist images were excavated.
The ruins of a Buddhist monastery were discovered during excavations in 2008-09. Square in plan, it measures approximately 14.04m x 14.04m in area with an open courtyard in the middle. The square courtyard, surrounded by cells on all sides, originally had only nine cells.
Archaeological evidence like the presence of RPW and Bhumak coins indicate that the monastery originated around the 1st-2nd century CE and continued until the end of the 8th century CE, with later expansions to the east and south.
“Among the Buddhist remains at Vadnagar Monastery were a replica of a terracotta stupa, a broken head of Buddha and a Buddhist tale engraved on stone, burnished black and gray ware, inscribed sigils and terracotta seals, seal impressions as well as artefacts of foreign origin or influence that have been recovered from Vadnagar,” said former Director of Archeology and Museum of Gujarat Government, YS Rawat , at The Indian Express.
Excavations at Vadnagar revealed that in the second phase, the monastery was equipped with a construction with proper planning with respect to the monastery.
In addition to these reconfirmations, Abhijit Ambekar, Deputy Superintendent Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) shared that excavations at Vadnagar revealed 34 reported terracotta sealings from a partially exposed circular stupa structure is significant because after having deciphered the letters, it matches the first word found in one of the ancient relic coffins from Devnimori, Aravalli district, North Gujarat (the relic coffin brought from inside the Mahastupa).
Another important place linking Gujarat with Buddhism is Taranga hill in Mehsana district about 30 km from Vadnagar. Anarta is the oldest name in North Gujarat. Anartapur was its capital.
Recent investigations show that Taranga might be Anartapur and may predate Vadnagar; before the 4th-3rd century BCE, archeology experts working at this site have revealed.
“Recent exploration of the area has revealed the presence of a cyclopean wall running over the peaks of Taranga. This fort could have been the ancient giri-durga of Anarta mentioned in an inscription from the 9th century AD. The evidence of cave dwellings next to the fort on the western slopes of three hills may be a Buddhist sanctuary from the early phase of Buddhism.Until recent discoveries, it was believed that Buddhists occupied the site around the 8th-9th century AD and they established a temple of the goddess Tara, hence the hill is named after the Buddhist goddess Tara,” Rawat shared in one of his presentations on Taranga. Thusday.