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Senake Bandaranayake


Ancient city and religious centre in north-central Sri Lanka on the Malvatu Oya River. The site (see fig.) extends over an area of about 64 sq. km. At its centre are the vestiges of a fortified inner city, surrounded by several ancient Buddhist monastery complexes and four large, man-made lakes. The founding of Anuradhapura as a major urban complex is traditionally ascribed to the semi-historical figure of the pre-Buddhist period, King Pandukabhaya, in the 4th century bc. Recent excavations indicate the existence of settlement, import ceramics and early writing from a horizon of the 5th century bc or earlier, indicating the possibility of urbanization taking place from c. mid-1st millennium bc. The earliest rock shelter monasteries at the site date from the last few centuries bc.

Anuradhapura was the country’s principal political and religious centre for nearly a millennium and a half, until the closing decades of the 10th century ...


Frederick M. Asher

and Gaya [Bodhgayā and Gayā]

Pilgrimage centres and towns located on the Phalagu (Niranjana) River in Bihar, India. From an early date Gaya has been a site for the performance of śrāddha, rites for recently deceased parents. This ancient tradition and the general sanctity of Gaya in the 5th century bc probably drew Siddhartha Gautama to its outskirts, to the place now known as Bodhgaya, where, following profound meditation, he became a Buddha (Enlightened One). The tree under which he meditated (the bodhi tree) became an object of veneration; initially it was surrounded by a hypaethral temple (Pali bodhighara), the general form of which is known from relief sculptures of the 2nd–1st centuries bc at Bodhgaya and other sites (see also Indian subcontinent, §III, 3). A stone slab (Skt vajrāsana) at the site, dating to the 3rd century bc, carries motifs similar to those found on contemporary Mauryan pillars (see...


E. Errington

[Chārsada; anc. Pushkalavati]

Town at the confluence of the Kabul and Swat rivers, some 27 km north-east of Peshawar, Pakistan. Pushkalavati, a capital of the ancient region of Gandhara, is mentioned in the Rāmāyaṇa epic as having been founded at the same time as Taxila. In 327 bc the city surrendered after a short siege to part of Alexander the Great’s army under Hephaistion and was garrisoned by Macedonian troops. The site associated with these events is Bala Hisar, a large settlement mound (about 241×201×17.5 m) of the 6th–1st century bc, to the north-west of Charsadda. The Indo-Greek city at Shaikhan Dheri, north of Bala Hisar, flourished c. 150 bcad 150. Flooding forced a move eastwards across the Swat River to Shahr-i-napursan. This extensive, largely unexcavated site is the probable location of the city visited by the Chinese pilgrims Songyun (ad 519–20) and Xuanzang (632), for superficial investigations suggest that occupation continued until the 10th century....



[now Ghaznī]

City in eastern Afghanistan that served as the capital of the Ghaznavid dynasty from 977 to 1163. In pre-Islamic times the city was a Buddhist centre, and excavations have uncovered remains of a stupa and clay and terracotta Buddhas. In ad 977 the Samanid slave commander Sebüktigin (reg 977–97) rose to power in Ghazna and founded the Ghaznavid dynasty (reg 977–1186). Ghazna became the capital of an empire that at the death of Sebüktigin’s son Mahmud (reg 998–1030) stretched from western Iran to the Ganges valley. The city commanded a dominating position on the borderland between the Islamic and Indian worlds and was an important entrepôt for trade. It was also a centre of literature and art: the poet Firdawsi (940–1020), for example, composed the Shāhnāma (‘Book of kings’) at the court of Mahmud c. 1010.

According to the late 10th-century geographer al-Muqaddasi, Ghazna was a thriving frontier town with many markets. It had a citadel (modern Bala-Hisar) with the ruler’s palace in the centre. The suburbs had more markets and houses for the wealthy, some of which have been excavated on the hill to the east of the town. Both ...



Barry Till

[rgyal rtse; Gyangzê]

Fourth largest city in Tibet, strategically located between Lhasa and Shigatse along the caravan route to India, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan. Gyantse is most famous for its fortress citadel, or Dzong, and its lamasery. The 15th-century fortress, situated on a hill overlooking the town, served as an effective buffer against invasions from the south for centuries until 1904, when it was partially destroyed and conquered by British forces led by Francis Younghusband. It suffered further damage by the Chinese in the 1960s. Although in poor condition, the fort still has significant traces of ancient wall paintings.

The complex of buildings within the old walls at Gyantse, often referred to as the Palkhor Choide or Pelkor Chode (dpal ‘khor chos sde) Lamasery, was founded in 1418 by Rabten Kunsang (1389–1442), a follower of Khedrup Je (1385–1438), himself a disciple of Tsong Khapa (1357–1419), the founder of the Gelugpa sect. The monastic complex was formerly much more extensive, but a number of buildings were dismantled during the 1960s. The main buildings have survived relatively intact, however. Chief among these and one of the most impressive buildings in all of Tibet is the ...


Gregory L. Possehl

City and mountain site in Gujarat, India. The city of Junagadh has numerous monuments of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Their architecture exhibits a rich mixture of European and Indian forms. However, the oldest and most significant monuments are those of the Uparkot, or Upper Fort, which dates from the Maurya and Gupta periods (4th century bc–7th century ad). The earliest of these monuments is a Jaina cave site known as the Bawa Pyara Math and datable to the 2nd century ad. Cut from the rock on the south side of the citadel hill, its cells form a horseshoe shape around a large apsidal hall in the centre. The Kapra Kodia caves (3rd–4th century ad) to the north of the Uparkot are best known for their cisterns and descending staircases. Near the highest point of the citadel is a Buddhist monastery of the same period. The square-cut cells of this complex are arranged on two levels linked by a winding staircase; a central court is open to the sky. Approximately 100 m north of the Buddhist caves is a large and splendid 15th-century ...




Capital of Afghanistan. With its excellent location on the Kabul River in a fertile plain surrounded by mountains and hills, Kabul is a natural strategic site and has a history of settlement dating back 3000 years. In pre-Islamic times Buddhism flourished in the region. Despite earlier Muslim raids, Islam began to be established only in the 9th century ad under the Saffarids of Sistan (reg 867–c. 1495). Under the Ghaznavids (reg 977–1186) Kabul served as a military depot for the army and had a strong citadel and prosperous commercial quarter. The city gradually developed as Ghazna declined, and from 1504 with the arrival of the Timurid prince Babur it flourished. Babur created numerous gardens, such as the quartered Bagh-i Vafa (‘Garden of Fidelity’) to the south of the city overlooking the river. He also used Kabul as a staging point for his campaigns into India, where he became the first Mughal emperor. On his death in ...


Gautam Vajracharya

[anc. Yāpriṅ]

Capital of Nepal, situated on the Bagmati River. According to legends recorded in Hindu and Buddhist texts, in ancient times the entire Kathmandu Valley was a lake—a story given credibility by the type of alluvial soil found in the valley. The city of Kathmandu appears to have developed out of two small towns that grew partly because of the fertility of the soil and partly because a principal trans-Himalayan trade route passed through them. The limits of the two towns are still vaguely remembered in the designated routes and areas for such traditional cultural activities as chariot festivals and processions of an image of a local divinity.

In the Lichchhavi period (c. ad 300–800) the two sections of this city were known as Koligrama and Dakshina (‘southern’) Koligrama. A massive inscribed stone threshold has helped to identify the location of a no longer extant Lichchhavi palace known as Dakshina-rajakula (‘Southern palace’), situated in the southern section on part of the site where the Hanuman Dhoka palace now stands. An older palace was located at Hadigaon, about 6 km north-east of the Southern Palace. Little survives of Kathmandu’s Lichchhavi-period monuments, though art historians have identified a range of works from this period in the city and its environs....



Kirit Mankodi

Capital of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India. Located near the River Indus on an ancient trade route between India, Tibet and China, Leh is notable for a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, known as the Tsemo Gompa, and the Lechen Pelkar palace and fort, all erected under the Namgyel rulers of the 16th–17th centuries. Among the buildings of the Tsemo Gompa is the Temple of the Guardian Deities, built by Tashi Namgyel in the 16th century, which contains images of the fierce protector Mahakala, Vaishravana (one of the four heavenly kings), the Great Goddess and another fierce guardian (yet to be identified). Also in the Tsemo Gompa, the Maitreya Temple contains a celebrated three-storey-high figure of the Future Buddha flanked by the bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri; the shrine may date to the 16th century, but it has been extensively renovated in recent times. The palace is a ruined nine-storey structure set on a hill north-east of the town; founded by ...



E. Errington


Town on the Kalpani River, in the centre of the Peshawar Valley, c. 50 km north-east of Peshawar, Pakistan. The town originally developed from two separate villages: Hoti, the headquarters of an important local khan; and Mardan, the site of a British cantonment (1852–1947) that was the military base of Queen Victoria’s Own Corps of Guides and the administrative centre of the district. The town retains its military associations as the headquarters of the Punjab Regiment.

In the early 20th century a mound (61×30×9 m) of uncertain date still survived beside the High School, albeit covered with graves and deeply cut for soil on all sides. Although it was never excavated, potsherds suggest that it had been a settlement site. There is no record of any Buddhist remains within the vicinity. Numerous Gandharan sculptures are said to be ‘from Mardan’, but this is a secondary attribution resulting from the fact that, in the 19th century, excavated finds from Gandharan sites in the region were all initially stored at Mardan awaiting orders for their ultimate destination, during which time records of site provenance were often lost. In ...


[Nāgapaṭṭiṇam; Nāgapaṭṭaṇam; Nāgipaṭṭaṇam]

Seaport and centre of Buddhism in Thanjavur District, Tamil Nadu, India. Nagappattinam had significant connections with China, with Sri Lanka and with the kingdom of Srivijaya in Sumatra from the 7th century ad to the 15th. The earliest reference dates to the time of the Pallava king Narasimhavarman II Rajasimha (reg 690–728), during whose rule a temple was built for Chinese Buddhists who had come to India for trading purposes. Mahayana Buddhism was also encouraged by members of the Javanese Shailendra dynasty, who in the mid-9th century extended their rule into Sumatra (Suvarnadvipa). In the 11th century they provided grants for the construction of shrines (Skt caityas). These were built under the patronage of the contemporary kings of the Chola dynasty and named Rajaraja-perum-palli and Rajendra-Chola-perum-palli after Rajaraja I (reg c. 985–1014) and Rajendra I (reg 1012–44) respectively. None of these monuments survives. The last remarkable Buddhist temple, a brick-built tower-like structure, perhaps dating to Pallava times, was pulled down in the mid-19th century, but its appearance is preserved in a sketch of ...


G. Bhattacharya

[Nāgārjunakoṇḍa; Nagarjunikonda]

Buddhist centre and capital of the Ikshvaku dynasty in Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh, India. It flourished in the 3rd–4th century ad. Nagarjunakonda was one of several Buddhist settlements (another being Amaravati) that developed along the Krishna River between the 2nd century bc and the 3rd century ad. The hills—offshoots of the Nallamala range of the Eastern Ghats—flanking the valley of Nagarjunakonda provided formidable natural fortifications, and in the 3rd century ad Vijayapuri (‘city of victory’) was established as the capital of the Ikshvaku kings, successors to the Satavahana dynasty. The city lay west of a hill known as Shriparvata. According to Tibetan tradition, it was in a monastery on Shriparvata that Nagarjuna, the great Buddhist philosopher of the 2nd century ad, lived towards the end of his life. The Ikshvaku kings patronized Brahmanical rites, but their queens, daughters and relatives were adherents of Buddhism. The valley was filled with Buddhist edifices as a result of their benefactions....



Pierre Pichard and Richard M. Cooler

[Pali Arimaddanapura]

Capital of the first kingdom of Burma from the 11th to the 14th century. Famous for its temples and other religious monuments, Pagan was probably founded in the 9th century ad. The city’s official Pali name, meaning ‘crusher of foes’, appears in contemporary stone inscriptions. The name Pagan is first mentioned (as Pukam) in Chinese sources c. 1004 and in a Cham inscription from Po Nagar in Vietnam dated 1050. Pagan’s foreign relations were mostly with eastern India (Bengal and Orissa), Sri Lanka, the Mon kingdoms to the south and China. The chief influences on its architecture and arts came from Burma itself (Pyu and Mon), from eastern India and from Sri Lanka.

Pierre Pichard

The city is on a bend of the Irrawaddy River in the arid region of central Burma, described in ancient inscriptions as tattadessa (the parched land). Its subsistence was always dependent on the rice-producing areas of Kyaukse, some 170 km upstream, and Minbu, 110 km downstream. The site is an alluvial terrace on the east bank of the river. It is bordered on the south-east by a low hill range; a higher range closes the western horizon across the river. At the foot of the south-east range a dam was built in the 12th century to store water during the meagre rainy season (June to November). A few other reservoirs were set up in the plain, but no evidence of irrigation channels has been found. Several streams cross the site from the east to the Irrawaddy; they are dry most of the year, their sandy beds used as cart tracks. Most of the plain is cultivated (palm trees and dry crops such as millet, sesame, cotton and groundnuts). About 36,000 people live in several villages within the archaeological area of some 13×8 km....


T. P. B. Riley-Smith

[Pāṭan; Lalitapur; Skt: ‘beautiful city’]

City some 5 km south-west of Kathmandu, Nepal. One of the Kathmandu Valley’s earliest settlements, Patan has been described as ‘the cradle of art and architecture in the valley’. Legend claims that the city was founded by the Buddhist emperor Ashoka, who ruled northern India in the 3rd century bc. He is credited with establishing the four stupas (Buddhist reliquary mounds) that terminate the roads emanating from Patan’s centre. They may, in fact, predate Ashoka’s era. Evidence from inscriptions, sculptures and architectural fragments indicates that Patan was one of the major settlements of the Lichchhavi dynasty (reg c. ad 300–800).

Most of Patan’s early monuments date from the time of the Malla monarchs (reg c. 1200–1769). Yaksha Malla (reg c. 1428–82) divided the valley between three sons, one of whom became ruler of the city-state of Patan. In the 17th century patronage of the arts flowered, as successive monarchs sought to outdo their cousins in ...



Walter Smith

[anc. Pataliputra; Pāṭaliputra]

City in north-eastern India, capital of Bihar state. The origins of the name Pataliputra (‘son of the ṭali tree’) are unknown; explanatory myths appear to have been formulated after the fact. According to literary traditions, both Buddhist and Jaina, Pataliputra was founded by King Ajatashatru (reg c. 491–c. 459 bc) of Rajagriha (Rajgir). Located at the confluence of the Ganga and Son rivers, the site was of strategic importance in regard to both warfare and trade. Textual traditions assert that Ajatashatru built a fort at Pataliputra, and that his successor, Udayi, transferred the Magadhan capital there from Rajagriha; while the fort itself has not been found, excavations have revealed strata datable to the 6th century.

During the 4th–3rd centuries bc, when Pataliputra became the Maurya capital, the city stretched for c. 14 km along the northern bank of the Son River. Excavations in the village of ...


Ann Paludan

revised by Zhongming Tang

[formerly Yidu]

Chinese city in Shandong Province. It was the political, cultural, and economic center of the Qingzhou–Jinan region from the 2nd century bce to the 14th century ce. The area is famous for its Han dynasty tomb sculpture and reliefs. Occasional Buddhist images appear among Shandong stone reliefs of the Eastern Han, for example, in Tengzhou and Linyi, suggesting that Buddhism influenced Shandong art as early as the 2nd century ce. The dramatic discovery in October 1996 of a pit containing some 400 stone Buddhist carvings on the site of the former Longxing temple, Qingzhou, and other post-1970 Buddhist finds at Zhucheng city, Longhua temple, Boxing County; Xingguo temple, Qingzhou; and Guangrao, Gaoqing, and Wudi further north; Mingdao temple in Linqu; and Kaiyuan temple in Jinan show that its sculptural tradition was also flourishing in the Northern–Southern dynasties period. An estimated 800 stone and bronze Northern dynasties artifacts from the Longxing temple site alone reveal the existence of a previously unrecognized, vigorous, independent Qingzhou sculptural tradition during the 6th century blending Northern and Southern dynasty, local, and foreign elements. The interaction between a well-established stone carving tradition and the relatively early adoption of Buddhism in Shandong may explain the sudden appearance of Qingzhou-type sculptures....



Frederick M. Asher

[Rājgir, Rājagṛha]

Ancient capital of the kingdom of Magadha in Nalanda District, Bihar, India. Rajgir was a frequent resort of the Buddha and of Mahavira, the Jaina teacher (c. 5th century bc), and it is sacred to both religions. Its outer fortifications (c. 6th century bc) run for about 40 km over hilly terrain; this wide rubble rampart with projecting bastions is probably the earliest surviving stone monument in India. Within the walls is a citadel with earthen ramparts. Beyond the outer walls, to the north, are the remains of new Rajgir, laid out in an irregular square, possibly by King Ajatashatru (c. 491–459 bc).

While archaeological excavations have revealed much material, few ancient monuments have survived. The earliest are the two rock-cut Sonbhandar caves. These are similar in plan and elevation to the rock-cut sanctuaries in the Barabar Hills (3rd century bc; see Barabar and Nagarjuni...



Erberto F. Lo Bue

Village 19 km north-east of Kathmandu, in Bagmati Province, Nepal, near the ancient Buddhist monastery, Gum Vihara. The monastery is located on a ridge 3 km north of the village at a site known as Vajrayogini (or Khadgayogini). Gum Vihara is one of the most ancient Buddhist sites mentioned in Lichchhavi inscriptions in the Kathmandu Valley, and it may well antedate the Lichchhavi period (c. ad 300–800). According to tradition Manadeva (reg c. ad 464–505) repaired the monastery, and under his influence a large caitya (stupa) was erected. This may refer to the only monumental stupa at this site, which is now enclosed in a c. 17th-century Newar-style double-roofed temple, surrounded by four stupas of the Lichchhavi period. The enclosure of a stupa of this size is now unique in the Kathmandu Valley and can be related to early Indian Buddhist monasteries with a stupa in the centre of a courtyard lined with cells....


Raja de Silva

[Sīgiriya, Sīgiri; Pali: Sīhagiri; Sinh. Sihigiri]

Site of an ancient capital city and Buddhist monastery, 172 km north-east of Colombo, Sri Lanka; flourished particularly in the 5th century ad. The buildings (now ruined) were spectacularly set on a mountain (a monadnock of gneiss) rising 180 m above the plain. The 23 caves at Sigiriya, of which nearly half are inscribed with donative records, bear witness to monastic activity during the last centuries bc and first centuries ad. In the second half of the 5th century ad the prince Kassapa usurped the throne from his father, Dhatusena of Anuradhapura, but then took refuge at Sigiriya, fearing the return of his brother Moggallana, the rightful heir. Kassapa ruled for 18 years (c. 479–97). He committed suicide in battle against Moggallana, who gave two monasteries at Sigiriya to the Mahayana-leaning Buddhist priesthood before proceeding as King to the capital Anuradhapura.

Excavation has revealed fortifications consisting of three lines of moats and ramparts, with the main entrance on the west side. Gates were also located on the north and south. The elaborate western entrance opens on to a 5-ha garden in several sections that contains island pavilions, baths, stone seats or thrones, fountains, paved watercourses, wells, pools, and a walled octagonal pond on five levels descending from the base of the rocky scarp to the western moat. The central path from the lower western gardens passes several ...


Frederick M. Asher

[Śrāvastī, Sāvatthī; mod. Saheth or Saheth-Maheth]

Site of an ancient city sacred to Buddhism and Jainism that flourished c. 6th century bc to c. 12th century ad, on the border of Gonda and Bahraich districts, Uttar Pradesh, India.

A number of events in the history of Buddhism occurred at Sravasti, which became an important pilgrimage centre. It was the site where the Buddha performed a miracle described in the commentary on the Dhammapada in which, among other things, he caused multiple images of himself to appear. The miracle is frequently depicted in the sculpture of the Gandhara region (1st–3rd century ad; see Indian subcontinent §V 5., (ii)) and in later Buddhist art. A tree-temple (Pali bodhighara) is recorded as having been built at the site of the miracle. Sravasti was also the location of the Jetavana, a wooded park given to the Buddha by Anathapindaka, a wealthy lay-disciple. His purchase of the land for the Buddha by covering it with gold coins is illustrated in early relief sculpture at ...