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Maheth – The Sravasti City

Maheth – The Sravasti City

Located on the back of the river Archiravati (Rapti), the city of Sravasti had a high earthen rampart with a brick wall on the top running along a circuit of 5.23 Km and pierced by several gates distinguished by high bastions. Four main gates are known as Imli Darwaza, Rajgarh Darwaza, Naushahra Darwaza & Kand Bhari Darwaza situated respectively at the south-west, north-west, north east and south-east corners. The remains within the city area include Buddhist, Brahmanical and Jaina structures and a few medieval tombs.

The Most significant structures among them are Temple of Shobhnath, Pakki-Kuti and Kachchi Kuti. Temple of Shobhnath located just near the entrance from western side, represents the remains of a Jaina temple, the domed edifice on the top being a superimposition in medieval period. The spot is hallowed as the birth-place of Sambhavnath, the third Jaina Tirthankara. Excavation in the nearby area has exposed remains of three temple complexes. The scientific clearance of the place has yield a few sculptures of Jaina tirthankaras in standing and seated posture datable to 10th-11th century, besides exposing the lower portions of the Jaina Temple.

Pakki Kuti is one of the two largest mounds inside the city area. Cunningham has proposed to identify it with the remains of the stupa of Angulimala seen by Chinese pilgrims, although, according to another view, it represents the ruins of the ‘hall of the law’ built by Presenajit in the honour of Buddha.

Kachchi Kuti, situated a few meters south-east of Pakki Kuti, is the most imposing monuments in the area. Dating from Kushan period, it went through various renovations in later periods. A group of scholars proposes to identify if with the stupa of Sudatta as seen by Chinese pilgrims, but according to another view, a large collection of T.C. plaques showing in high relief scenes from the Ramayana suggests its identification as Brahmanical temple.

Recent excavations in the city area have brought to light town-planning of ancient city as could be studied through the structural remains of early historical period i.e. house-complex, ancient street, temples etc. Excavation has also exposed original gateway complex of early historical period near Kandbhari village.

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