Connection of Fatehgarh Sahib district (Punjab) with Buddhism

Sanghol Village in Fatehgarh Sahib district (Punjab) has connection with Buddhism as it yielded a 1st century Buddhist stupa enshrining the bone relics of an important Buddhist teacher and a monastery complex. Few votive stupas are put around this main stupa to secure the relics.

In the present day Punjab, Hiuen Tsang, the celebrated Chinese Pilgrim, who was in India for 14 years from 630 AD to 643 AD, visited three cities- Chinapatti, Jalandhara and Satadru or Sanghol. Out of three places described by Hiuen Tsang, only Satadru or Sanghol has been discovered and excavated in Modern Punjab.

Satadru or Sanghol is 65 Kms by road from Ludhiana of Punjab and 40 Km from Chandigarh on the Ludhiana – Chandigarh road. Sanghol is 16 Km by road from Sirhind railway station.

The most important monument unearthed at Sanghol by the experts of the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Punjab is the Stupa and the monastery complex. The Stupa, which appears to have been first built by Ashoka in 3rd century B.C., is on the pattern of Dhamma Chakra (Wheel of Law). The cylindrical stupa is of 16 metre diameter on a 17 metres square platoform-the pradakashina or circumambulation of the stupa raised at height. There is also a surkhi or murrampathway about 5.34 m in width all around the stupa. The the east is a paved pathway along which anumber of votive Stupas of slokd mud were eracted by the devoteed.

From the central portion of the Stupa were recovered a tooth, ashes and some bones as also the bottom portion of a relic casket-most probably the body relics of the Buddha. The excavation also yields a lid with a Kharosthi legend of 1st -2ndcentury B.C. Upasaka Ayabhadra mentioned in the legend may have been responsible for enshrining the relics in the stupa.

The priceless find at Sanghol, which has put it prominently on the archaeological map ofIndia, is the discovery of 117 sculptures of the Kushana period from the railing around the stupa on the square platform. These railing pillars were found in a pit between the monastery and the stupa on Febuary 2, 1985. The valuable parts of the railing include a corner pillars, 58 upright pillars, 7 double sided pillars, 35 cross bars and 13 coping stones.

Sanghol Village in Fatehgarh Sahib District

Buddhist stupa

Of the four corner pillars, one is with Dhamma-Chakradvaja, two withSimbadhvaja and the last with stupa and devotees. The upright pillars have beautiful carvings of Yakshis, an Upasaka (a lay devotee), a Chakravartin (a royal devotee). The coping stones mounted on the railing pillars are decorated with a series of arched windows containing Buddhist symbols like dhamachakra, lotus, worship of the relic casket, worship of Buddha’s bowl and other auspicious symbols. The cross bars which join the two pillars are decorated with lotus medallions. The Sanghol sculptures are considered as the best specimen of the Buddhist art of 2nd Century A.D.

During the excavations in the adjoining areas, a broken portion of stone from a gateway of stupa, depicting Jataka stories, in redstrone, was also recovered. Coins of all the kings of Kushana  dnasty and also seals and sealing in Kharoshti and Brahmi scripts have been discovered. A large citadel with internal and external moats has also been unearthed. The monetary is yet to be fully excavated.

Source – Book -‘Buddhist Sites and Shrines in India’ by D. C Ahir

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