Chakhil-i Ghoundi

Description :

Four parts were distinguished in the Buddhist foundation of Chakhil-i Ghoundi (abbreviation: C) located 1300 meters northeast of Haḍḍa. In the center, on a concrete area stood the main Stūpa C1 overlooking the others. The staircase was placed on the east, surrounded on the south and north by small stūpas, two on square bases and one on a circular base. The countermarchs of the C1 staircase were decorated with several scenes; the first depicted Dionysiacs and the second depicted, from left to right, Palace Life, the Śibi Jātaka, and the Interpretation of Queen Māyā's Dream. To the west, the platform extended to allow for the construction of the C8 stūpa. To the north and south, the ground had been considerably disturbed by the excavations attributed to Simpson. The platform was stopped abruptly by a thick wall, a possible remnant of an earlier enclosure.

Below were small stūpas organized in an artificial area around one, slightly larger, with an orientation close to that of the large stūpa. This C25 stūpa was probably the oldest of them all because it had been half-buried by the elevation of the neighboring buildings. This anarchic, disorganized arrangement left no room for the ritual path of pradakṣiṇā.

The third part was to the north, and corresponded to a series of three rooms in enfilades. Beyond, below, a large chamber contained two stūpas.

An earthen staircase, offset by the degradation of the platform, was located opposite that of the main stūpa. It gave access to an empty space that appeared to isolate the building. Previous excavations seemed to have damaged this forecourt, which had revealed remains of the stūpa. A step allowed one to exit this space. One descended to the east a gentle slope in five steps. It was at the end of this slope that the entrance gate to the site must have been located, but nothing remained of it. Then began the dwellings of the saṅghārāma: a long corridor led to three rooms, two of them elongated and parallel. Note that the limestone relief depicting the Offering of a Handful of Dust (on the upper register) and the First Sermon of Benares (on the lower register) was discovered in C, but its exact provenance has been lost (Barthoux, 1933: 40.).

Perspective of the plan of Chakhil-i Ghoundi drawn by J. Barthoux (Barthoux, 1927) and of the current state of the site according to Google Earth satellite imagery.