Over two thousand years ago, Gautama Buddha is believed to have journeyed for years across the Indian sub-continent. Tracing his travels through Haryana, the state’s archaeology department has brought together hitherto unknown information, of the sites and places, which the Buddha touched with his presence.
Buddha traveled the length to deliver his profound and enlightening discourses. He is believed to have delivered these at Thullak and Kamasdamma, identified by historians as Thanesar and Kaithal or Kamoda, situated almost 15 kilometres away from Thanesar on the road to Pehowa.
Initially, Buddha’s association with Haryana was considered to be limited to these two towns. The Dipvamsa (oldest surviving historical record of Sri Lanka) refers to Buddha’s visit to a city in the Kuru kingdom, where he received alms on the bank of the Anottata Lake, which is believed to be the present Brahma Sarovar in Kurukshetra. “Ancient Buddhist texts, however, also refer to Buddha’s long journey from Hastinapura to Gandhara via Rohitaka, Mahangara and Srughna. Of these places, Rohitaka is undoubtedly the modern Rohtak and Srughana has been correctly identified with Sugh near Jagadhri. What we, however, discovered was that several places which historians mention can be traced to the trail that Buddha walked in Haryana. For example there was a flourishing kingdom at Srughana or present day Sugh.
Imperial Gazetteer of India mentions Sugh village in Jagadhari district of Punjab. Srughana is mentioned by Chinese pilgrim Heun Tsang as a capital of a kingdom and a seat of considerable learning, both Buddhistic and Brahmanical kingdom extended to mountains in the north, Ganges in the west and Yamuna passing through it. General Cunningham states though the place is almost in the ruins, it was as suggested by coins to the Mughal conquest. It was spread over a circuit of 3 and quarter miles. It is situated on almost spur of land, surrounded on all sides by bed of old Yamuna river.
Pillars and remnants of stupas found in Hisar, Hathin, Bhuna, Chaneti, Jhajjar and Karnal are vital links to the Buddha’s trail
Heun Tsang describes in detail three Buddhist monasteries with more than 700 Hinanayists at Thanesar. He records details of a stupa built by King Ashoka which is 300 feet high. The remains of this stupa still exist in a neglected and dilapidated state on the elevated ground between the Brahma Sarovar and the Kurukshetra University.
Hieun Tsang refers to tens of stupas in this area alone. An Ashokan stupa situated about 5 kilometres north-west of Sugh has been discovered at Chaneti and it may well have been one of the stupas referred to by the Chinese pilgrim. Its shape resembles the Shashpur and Sharamarajika stupa of Taxila and its remains indicate that it must have been big. This stupa had recently been restored by the department in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India. Remains of a Kushana monastery also have been excavated to the south-west of the Sugh and it may have been one of the five sangharamas referred to by Hieun Tsang.
The remains of a Kushana stupa has been discovered at Asandh in Karnal district. Locally it is known as jasarasandh ka tila. This stupa must originally have been a huge structure as it still rises to a height of more than 25 metres. It is similar in shape to the Dhamekh stupa in Sarnath. It is adorned with Buddhist images. It has still not been excavated.