Vikramshila – The Knowledge House of Medieval India
Medieval India had witnessed very powerful centres of learning spreading light of knowledge. Today we are visiting ruins of one of those knowledge hubs. Vikramshila is one of the two important Mahavihara of the 8th century.
From the pages of history of Vikramshila
By the 8th century, people started believing the quality of scholarship of Nalanda was going down. Responding to this belief, Emperor Dharmapala of the Pala Empire established the Vikramshila University. According to the Tibetan sources, Vikramshila grew to prominence in this period and formed an elite club with four other important knowledge centers, Nalanda, Somapura, Odantapura, and Jagaddala.
The university prospered for the next four centuries. It contributed to the Buddhists body of knowledge through its large number of thousand scholars and hundred teachers. During the invasion of Turko-Afghan military gemera; Bakhtiyar Khilji Vikramshila University was destroyed.
About the ruins
Today, we can visit the ruins of Vikramshila in Antichak village, Bhagalpur district in Bihar. Prof. B. P. Sinha of Patna University undertook the first methodical excavation of this site in the 1960s. A few years after that, the Archaeological Survey of India started a second excavation. Over the period of two decades, archaeologists revealed a site spread over more than a hundred acres. Huge monastery with a cruciform stupa in its centre, a library building and cluster of votive stupas formed the campus of this medieval university of India.
Residential quarters of the monastery is a huge square structure with 52 cells on each side opening in a common verandah. They also found few brick arched underground meditation chambers below few residential cells. Main stupa is at the center of the monastery. It is a brick structure with mud mortar. Archeologists also found a few Hindu and Tibatian temples on the northern side of the monastery.