Friday, October 22, 2010

Pataliputra The Largest Jewel in India’s Crown Part.III

Alexander was ready to risk an invasion. But his war weary, homesick men refused to go on, and he was obliged to turn back towards the west without giving battle.  After he died in 323 BC, his far flung empire broke apart as his general set themselves up as rival rulers in different provinces.
In India, meanwhile, the Mauryan emperor, Chandragupta, had exploited the power vacuum left by Alexander’s conquests and had seized control of the lands of the North West, up to the Indus. By about 300 BC, the territories beyond the river were controlled by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander’s generals who now ruled an empire stretching from the Indus all the way back to the Mediterranean. Seleucus raise fresh troops in a bid to expand his realms into the Ganges valley, but the war elephants of Magadha trampled bloody paths through his formations, and hordes of infantry overwhelmed the weary remainder. Seleucus’s offensive turned into a humiliating retreat.
The Greeks never again threatened Magadha. But many of the hostages and envoys Seleucus had sent to the court at Pataliputra settled there, including artists, craftsmen, musicians, and soldiers. It was also Seleucus who sent Megasthenes as his ambassador to Pataliputra.
Pataliputra was t its zenith under the Mauryans. Four main gates led through its high toothed battlements on the north, east, west, And south sides. Wide avenues led from the gates to the city centre, their central gutters carrying waste water beyond the city walls.
The city was carved into 16 commercial sectors, each assigned to a different guild of craftsmen. The wealthy and the elite lived in brick mansions along the main avenues, near the palaces. Second rank nobles and merchants lived behind the elite, and so on in bands. The poor lived just inside the city walls, in baked earth hovels. People washed clothes and watered livestock in the canals which crisscrossed the city.
 There were inns, hospitals, and art galleries. Ashoka even provided veterinary centers. As a convert to Buddhism, he respected the sanity of all living things. He is also thought to have ordered the first Buddhist monuments to he built at Sanchi, including the Great Stupa, or shrine-carved with pictures which show how life was lived at Pataliputra.

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