You ask an Indian about his thoughts about winter, you are bound to get different thoughts and opinions, thanks to how the winters show up in different parts of India. Depending upon where you are, you might have a different view about the Winters. Because the Northern part of India experiences a very cold and chilly winter, whereas the Southern part might not see too much of a difference. The extreme east experiences winters for most part of the year and it only gets chillier as the real winters approach, whereas the western part has a cold but bearable winters.
Being born and brought up in Northern India made me more of a North Indian than a South Indian and hence the love for the chilly winters. If you are planning to visit any city in Northern India, winters are the best time to do so, especially Decembers for two reasons – firstly, you can avoid the hot Summers and secondly, experience the tasty cuisines that are very specific to the Winters.
When we planned our first visit to Bhagalpur (Puja’s Native), we decided we will do it in December for the above obvious reasons. Even before we had booked out tickets, I had started researching about the place. I had a fair bit of information about the rich culture and heritage of the place. I like traveling only because of the fact that I like exploring the culture, the architecture and the heritage of the various cities in India. And that was even more motivation for me to explore about the place.
Bhagalpur is known for 2 things – the Bhagalpur Silk and Vikramshila. But, my research revealed a lot more that these 2 things.
The Mandar Parbath (Mandar Mountain), finds mention in the Indian Mythology when the Gods and Demons together had to churn the ocean to produce Amrit (Elixir). Vasuki was a divine serpent that was used as the rope to coil the mountain. I was surprised to see the impression of the coil on the mountatin.
The Vish-hari puja (worship of the Snake Queen) is another thing that Bhagalpur is known for. It roots back hundreds of years and is celebrated even today with thousands flocking the place to feed milk to the Naag and Naagin.
There were many more to learn and know about the place and that made my journey all the more interesting.
Vikramshila – Where Knowledge Lay underneath the Earth
My first objective on landing at Bhagalpur was obviously to visit Vikramshila. I knew there was a lot that I will be able to find there and I was not disappointed.
It was an absolute beauty. But I felt disappointed at the fact that the Archaeological Society of India had ignored the place until then. There was excavation going on but I am sure that a lot of the finds would have gone into the hands of the locals, thanks to the neglect from the authorities.
A huge library partially excavated, was one of my favorites. The entire library was under the earth but an opening on top was my entrance into it. I am amazed at the architecture. In spite of the fact that there were just a couple of openings on the top, the entire rooms were illuminated. One of the person there, to whom I could speak to told me about the architectural wonder and that it was the positions of the room that made it possible for light to pass into every corner of them.
Beautiful sculptures, all in baked mud still stood there with little to no damage. Considering the fact that the university dated back to the 9th Century CE, it was a wonder in itself.
There were many more like the book written on pages of stones and bound together, the toys that the kids played, the mud utensils and so on.
I could just go on and on but I think that is enough for it as of now. If you ever get a chance to visit India and especially Bihar, do make it a point to visit Vikramshila. You are certain to be amazed..