Archaeology Department seeks nod to link Rajaghatta to Buddhism

by Yathiraju, ENS, Aug 16, 2012

Rajaghatta, India -- The Directorate of Archaeology and Museums (DAM) has sought permission to take up a year-long excavation work at Rajaghatta to establish its importance as a unique Buddhist settlement in the state.

Situated about eight km Northeast of Doddballapur near Bangalore it is said the Buddhist sect who built the Rajaghatta ‘Chaitya’ (shrine) belonged to the Mahayana group, said M S Krishna Murthy, former professor and chairman, DoS in Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore. The remains found at Rajaghatta is expected to open up a new chapter in the history of Buddhism in Karnataka, said Murthy, who would lead the excavation work.

In his report “Rajaghatta, A Unique Buddhist Settlement in Karnataka” submitted to the DAM officials Murthy cited several new evidence in support of the need for more excavation.

R Gopal, DAM director, said Rajaghatta is an important Buddhist site where the excavation work would start after getting permission from the Central Advisory Board of Archaeology, ASI, and it would continue for a year.

“Villagers, who found that some stupas at the site had a shaking object inside, broke them open to find its contents. But, they say all the stupas, to their dismay, yielded only the impressed clay tablets and nothing else. Unfortunately, the villagers out of curiosity to know the contents, it is said, have destroyed hundreds of such stupas. In spite of this, we could unearth about 300 stupas in various stages of preservation,” said Murthy.

“It is really unfortunate that not a single inscription was discovered during the earlier excavations making it difficult to date the chaitya complex on definite grounds. Inscriptions found in the surroundings also do not give any clues pertaining to the existence of a Buddhist settlement at Rajaghatta. Therefore, dating of the Buddhist relics of this place is to be made only on the basis of clues that we get from the excavated finds,” he said.

Earlier explorations conducted during 2000-01 and 2003-04 at Rajaghatta had yielded antiquities that could be connected with Buddhism. It appears that the chaitya complex at Rajaghatta got ruined during the end of 6th century AD. The structure was ransacked for building materials. The deserted religious place of the “Nirgranthas” (heterodox people) became the burial ground of the Hindus. Thus ended the long and glorious period of three centuries of Buddhism at Rajaghatta, the report said.

The chaitya and vihara complex has a special type of layout at Rajaghatta. Construction of the chaitya and vihara was not an unknown tradition. Beautiful and big, about two metres high, sculptures of seated Buddha, carved in stone are noticed at Deganur in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu, adjacent to Kolar district. The present town of Kallya, Magadi taluk, near Rajaghatta is known to have been a Buddhist settlement. In the light of these evidences, it is necessary that we redraft the history of Buddhism in state, said Murthy.