Bemused by my own longing to be a free roaming spirit I took a break from the ongoing paint work of my flat to avail myself of the this newfound opportunity of venturing into the remnants of the once glorious centre of learning- The Ruins of Vikramshila
.Once decided, everything started falling in line- ticket booked, painters to take a day or two off and finally reaching the PNJB on 28th May with racing pulse and beating heart. The train arrived rather late making me a bit impatient and then dashing to the foot rail into the chair car snugging into my seat. My co-passenger, a fat fellow in his 50s looked like somewhat a disinterested and dissatisfied lot always grumbling at the improper functioning of AC, worried at the counseling and admission of his son in some technical institute and then making grunting sounds in his throat at the snail paced movement of the carriage cars.Ah....!a poor soul unaware of the ways to enjoy the small, fleeting moments of happiness in life. And, there I was.... too excited to heed to these nondescript things lost in my own little world of imagination.
Train reached Bhagalpur Jn. an hour late. I spent my night at my friend's parental place and the next day was up at 6.00, drew the curtain aside,looked out of the window- the weather seemed to be on my side with soft, gentle wind and partly clouded sky. The hired car arrived at 8.30..a light breakfast and then we were off to our destination meandering our way through many a small hamlet enjoying the bumps and jerks on the zigzag road. The driver quite confident at his knowledge of the geographical location of the said site, though to me, seemed to be a forgetful fellow who to impress us, the newcomers and he in the role of a host , took the wrong way stating that it was shortest route to the ruins, had ultimately to surrender reaching the dead end of the road and again had to take the back route with his crashed self-confidence, smarting under our strict instructions to ask the passersby.......finally, we reached, car parked and entry tickets taken...all prepared to delve deep into the mysteries of the VIKRAMSHILA- also the centre of learning of occult sciences
The sky was pristine blue with light, fluffy clouds, and wind a little high in that almost desolated place. It just took my breath away to see the panoramic view of the green fields covered with lush green velvety nature's planted grass dotted with shady lined trees and in midst the ruins lying in the backdrop of the famous MANDARGIRI HILLS. Only a few local tourists were there now and then to pose against the silent ruins for snap shootings. We sat on a wooden bench with an arched back under the cool shady and lush green Ashoka tree savoring the unmarred beauty of the spectacular scene letting the cool wind loaf and play around us mischievously. A local guide explained in brief the history of the place. I took a few snap shots and then climbed down the stairs transported into the world of tantra and mantra.
Located at about 50 kms east of Bhagalpur(Bihar),the ruins have been excavated at Village Antichak and the process is still underway revealing a huge square monastery with a cruciform stupa in its centre, a library building and cluster of small votive stupas. To its north, a number of scattered structures are there including a Tibetan and a Hindu temple. The entire area spreads over an area of more than 100 acres. It was one of the two most important centers of Buddhist learning during the Pala dynasty, along with the Nalanda University and was established by king Dharampala(783 to 820), was also named as Vikramshila Vihar by the Tibetan monks. It had more than 100 teachers, 1000 disciples and produced many eminent scholars to spread Buddhist learning, culture and religion. Subjects like Philosophy, Grammar, Metaphysics were taught here but the most important branch of learning was Tantrism. The main stupa built for the purpose of worship is a huge brick structure laid in mud mortar which stands in the centre of the square monastery. Votive stupas are miniature stupas erected by devotees in gratitude of fulfillment of desires.
I kept hanging around the place as the serenity and the tranquility of the enormous structure cupped in between the verdant green hills and fields had an intoxicating effect on my forlorn mind and body. The wind wild whooshed past and time seemed to coagulate there. Neither of us wanted to let slip any moment, any scene unrecorded from our mind...so engrossing was its charm!
But then, we were running out of time and had to bid adieu to it. We also visited the site museum where a number of antiquities of different materials unearthed in course of excavation are displayed.
I then took my way back through that serpentine route feeling rejuvenated, fresh with a vow to make another such visit to some other sites in near future.