Maira Kalman has very beautifully captured the significance of visiting the museums in her words-“A visit to a museum is a search for beauty, truth, and meaning in our lives. Go to museums as often as you can.” Our visit to Bihar Museum was quite similar to her views. The visit which began as a random leisurely visit turned out to be a rather meaningful experience for both of us. Although, the museum is filled with multiple noteworthy facts, all of you would get the glimpses of the sections which caught our attention in our first visit to the reservoir of the enriching historical past of Bihar.
The Bihar Museum was constructed by a famous Japanese architect – Mr. Fumihiko Maki. It was built to affirm the connection of the youth with their glorious historical past. The proposal to construct this museum was based on the recommendation of 12th Finance Commission of India in 2006 in order to attain heritage conservation and protection. The cultural and historical heritage of Bihar has been highlighted through this commendable medium.
THE MUNDESHWARI TEMPLE
In our visit, we also got to know about this ancient temple of Bihar which has an indispensable contribution in the religious horizon across the Indian subcontinent.
The architectural style of this temple is Nagara. The shape of the temple is octagonal in nature. The doors are located on all four sides.Archaeological Survey of India is responsible for protecting this majestic Shiva temple due to its profound importance in the folklores and the glorious stories of the past.
It is considered to be one of the oldest functioning temple in the world. It’s construction was undertaken in 108 AD. Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga are the principal deities of the temple. The Goddess is addressed as Mundeshwari by the localites. The Shivling of this ancient premises is four faced. So, it is referred as Chatur mukha lingam. Ramnavmi and Shivratri are celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm by the devotees of Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga.
THE HOLY EXPERIENCE
A specific section of the museum is dedicated to showcase an unique architectural style of a popular spiritual shrine- Harmandir Sahab. This section has imitated the entire style using the white marble and the intricacies on its surface which gives a sense of serenity to all the visitors. It was constructed in 1606 to commemorate the tenth Sikh guru Guru Gobind Singh as it was his birthplace. It is one of the five takhts of sikkhism.Takht is a word in Persian language which means imperial throne. Patna Sahib is the oldest amongst all the five takhts. It is a highly revered place for the people belonging to the Sikh religion.
AN ILLUSTRIOUS TRIBUTE TO AN EFFICIENT RULER
In the visit, we were fortunate enough to get a virtual tour of the tomb of Sher Shah Suri which is situated at Sasaram in Rohtas district of Bihar. We could not stop ourselves from admiring the competency and the bravery of the emperor.
Sher Shah Suri was the founder of the Sur dynasty. He is considered one of the finest administrator in the Indian history who introduced revolutionary changes in the economic and military sphere. The most exciting part is the introduction of postal service and the contemporary system of currency in his reign which reflects his foresightedness as an efficient ruler.
The construction of the tomb dates back to 1540- 1545. It has different features of Indo islamic and Afghan architecture . It is surrounded with an artificial lake which gives it an picturesque appearance. This lake is popularly called Paani Roza. The walls of the tomb have the carvings of the inscriptions of the holy Quran. There are 25 graves within the entire premises.
Another interesting fact is the location of tomb on the Grant trunk road. Grant trunk road was built under the rule of the emperor himself.
BIHAR- AN ANCIENT HUB OF KNOWLEDGE
All of us have come across a lot of data regarding the low literacy rates in Bihar. Due to this, we have also underestimated the academic development of the state to a greater extent. Moreover, the ancient history of the region has a different story to tell. The Mahaviharas of the Buddhist culture speaks volumes about the spectacular institutions in Bihar which served as great centres of learning. In this section, you all would get a glimpse of the remarkable scholastic achievements of Bihar in the ancient times.
Mahaviharas were the monastic complex of vihars in Buddhism. They had a pivotal role as a major centre of learning of Buddhist culture and religion. Vihara are basically one of the five kinds of abodes which were suggested by lord Buddha for the monks.
Nalanda Mahavihara was one of the first residential universities which was constructed in 5th century AD. It is situated 16 km away from Rajgir in Bihar .The founder of this ancient learning centre was Kumaragupta-I . The most astonishing fact about Nalanda was its nine storey library which had a volume of 9 million manuscripts. It had a combination of courses in medicine, arts, philosophies and religious studies. The students of Nalanda belonged to Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey.
Odantpuri Mahavihara was a popular Buddhist Mahavihara which was constructed during the reign of Gopala-I in 8th century AD. It is known to be the second oldest university after Nalanda and a popular learning centre of the ancient period. It is located in the modern day Bihar Sharif of Bihar. It played a key role in the extensive development of Buddhism across the Indian subcontinent.
Vikramshila Mahavihara was a well recognised institution for learning Vajrayana Buddhism. It is situated near Antichak in Bhagalpur district of Bihar. It was founded by Dharampala in late 8th or early 9th century AD. The institution also has a beautiful decoration with terracotta panels on the surface of its terrace walls.It had an special residential block for the monks.
Both of us were fascinated with these segments of the museum. Through this visit, our respect for every museum has definitely increased. The next time you are in Patna, don’t forget to include Bihar museum in your itinerary.