Ancient pillar with Buddha image found in Nalasopara

by Sandhya Nair, TNN, Jan 9, 2012

MUMBAI, India -- An ancient pillar carved with an image of Gautam Buddha was discovered near a Buddhist stupa in Nalasopara (W) on Friday. The stupa comes under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

"The pillar was discovered when workers were digging the ground to lay a garden," said founder of Buddha Vihar and Buddhist monk Bikhoni Sangamitra. "The pillar is a proof of Gautam Buddha's visit to Sopara village."

Following the discovery of the pillar, the digging work was discontinued. The pillar will now be inspected by ASI officials and historians before being moved to safety. The state government, along with the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC), is working on converting the stupa into an international tourist spot. The stupa complex will house meditation centres, a museum and a mini theatre where films on the Buddhist stupa will be shown.

Ashokan inscriptions have been recovered from Sopara on earlier occasions. During an earlier excavation, ruins of a Buddhist stupa and a large stone coffer containing eight bronze images of Buddha dating back to the 8th-9th century AD were found.