Hadda monastic cluster, (near) Hadda, Velayat-e Nangarhar, AF

Raw data

"The monastic complex is situated halfway along the road from Kabul to Kandahar. This site had the ruins of the ancient town as well as a number of Buddhist stupas and caves. Among the remains atop the broad plateau are such Buddhist temples sites as Tapa-Kalan, Tapa-i-Kafariha, Bagh-gai, Chakhil-i-Gundi, deh-Ghundi and Gar-Nao." Bopearachchi (2002).

"084. Hadda
Variant Names (includes): Bagh Gai, Deh Ghundi, Gar Nau, Tepe Kafiriha, Tepe Kalan, Tepe Shutur and Tepe Zargaran.
Ningrahar Province. Nine kilometers by road south of Jalalabad
Dates: Kushan-Sassanian, 1st-7th century AD (numismatic, stylistic, epigraphic, documentary evidence)
An extensive area of stupas, monasteries and artificial caves covering approximately 15 square kilometers. All of the sites are stupa-monastery complexes, often with more than one main stupa and always with many votive stupas. […]
Some of the caves are decorated. Near Tepe Zargaran there is a series of domed caves, some of which have stucco decoration and frescos, and containing many sculptural fragments. […]
Lat […] 34.36667 Long […] 70.46667 "
- DoDLRMP and CEMML (2010:#084 Hadda)

"During the second phase (1926-40) full-scale excavations were undertaken: Barthoux at Hadda (1926-28), where eight monasteries, 500 stupas an approximately 15,000 sculptures and fragments were recorded (only 3,000 of the latter reached Kabul, due to opposition from local inhabitants and mullas; see Barthoux, MDAFA, 1933; half of those initial finds were sent to France, and the other half were placed in the Kabul Museum, where they suffered damage during a local revolt in 1929."

Fa-hsien visited Hadda (called by him Hi-lo), where he found a vihara. (Litvinskii et al. 1996:168)

"Hadda (ancient Nagarahara), near modern Jalalabad, was the site of one of the largest Buddhist centers in Afghanistan, and as such was visited and described by the Chinese pilgrims (such as Fa-hsien [ca. 337-ca. 422] and Hsüan-tsang [602-64]). There an area of about 15 km2 remains covered with traces of numerous monasteries (Bagh Gai, Deh Ghundi, Tepe Kafiriha, Tepe Kalan, Tepe Shutur, Gan Nao, and others), large and small s, sanctuaries, and artificial caves." - Melikian-Chirvani (n.d.).

Afghanistan, Hadda site, Tapa-kalan Monastery 4th-5th century

"Haḍḍa (ancient Nagarāhāra), near modern Jalālābād, was the site of one of the largest Buddhist centers in Afghanistan, and as such was visited and described by the Chinese pilgrims (such as Fa-hsien [ca. 337-ca. 422] and Hsüan-tsang [602-64]). There an area of about 15 km² remains covered with traces of numerous monasteries (Bāgh Gai, Deh Ghundi, Tepe Kāfirihā, Tepe Kalān, Tepe Shutur, Gan Nao, and others), large and small stūpas, sanctuaries, and artificial caves. The monasteries had square or rectangular courts surrounded by sanctuaries, cells, community halls, and other buildings. The center was occupied by a large stūpa and several small ones. Sometimes there were two courts, one lined with cells, the other with small sanctuaries. Next to the monasteries and between them there were numerous stūpas, caityas, and sculptures. The stūpas (there were over 500 of them) stood on multi-tier foundations with rich stucco or (rarely) stone decorative relief, architectural details including cornices, Corinthian columns, arches, etc., and rows of sculptural figures (sitting and standing Buddhas, other Buddhist and secular personages). The vihāras were similarly decorated. The art of Haḍḍa constitutes a special school of Gandhāran art, more free, more expressive and realistic than the art of the Gandhāra region." Litvinsky (2010).

Hadda […] was one of the most sacred spots of Buddhist world dating from the 2nd to the 7th Century A.D. Countless pilgrims came from every corner of the earth to worship at its many holy temples, maintained by thousand of monks and priests living in large monastery complexes. - http://mfa.gov.af/en/page/4200
Input by: tmciolek, Jul 8, 2010

"[It] be taken to be true, the message of the Buddha reached the eastern part of Afghanistan even during the life-time of the Buddha. We have found the skull relics of the Buddha from Hadda and his tooth relics from Dauranta. Both these places are near Jelalabad. Fai-hien and Sung Yun also witnessed the skull relics of the Buddha and worshipped them." - http://thanhsiang.org/en/early-buddhism-afghanistan
Input by: tmciolek, 17 Jul 2014

Hadda (Ningrahar province)
The long and famous road from Kabul to the Khyber Pass follows the River Kabul through a rich and fertile valley with Jalalabad as its centre, and there, for centuries around the beginning of the first millennium, lived large communities of Buddhist monks. The countryside may have been the base for further travels to the north, east and far away.
Jules Barthoux, a member of DAfA, worked in the ruins of several monasteries, both small and large, from 1923 to 1928. he brought the finds, including many beautiful pieces of carving and modelling, to the Kabul Museum. Some pieces later came to the Musée guimet in Paris. It is worth recording here the names of the monasteries: Bagh gai, Chakhil-i ghundi, Deh ghundi, gar Nau, Prates, Tepe Kafariha and Tepe Kalan.
In the 1970s, during the interlude of peace before the wars, two Afghan scholars, Sabbai Mustamandi and subsequently Zemarialaē Tarzi, worked hard to excavate the Tepe Shotor monastery in the vicinity of Jalalabad. Whereas the French experts were interested in the wealth and beauty of their finds, the Afghan experts were more concerned about the architecture of the buildings. Their contributions led to a better understanding of the daily life of the inhabitants.
J. Barthoux, 1930, MDAFA, VI.
B. Dagens, M. Le Berre and D. Schlumberger, 1964, MDAFA, XIX.
Src: Tissot (2006)
Input by: tmciolek, Aug 01, 2014

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 01 Aug 2014

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 2 km from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Hadda monastic cluster, AF.

General location of the Hadda monastic cluster, AF.
Lat 34.36667 Long 70.46667
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (http://www.fallingrain.com), 2010.

Google Map link:


Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Hadda monastic cluster

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Afghanistan:Velayat-e Nangarhar

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

  • Hi-lo - (Litvinskii et al. 1996:168)
  • Nagarahara - Melikian-Chirvani (n.d.).

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx., Lat 34.36667 Long 70.46667 - DoDLRMP and CEMML (2010:#084 Hadda)

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • Hadda was a center of Hinayana - Anonymous (1997).

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • [missing data]

11. Date-early

  • MBM chrono-tag <=0200 - tmciolek 12 Apr 2013
  • <=0200 0200-32c 0233-66c 0267-99c 0300-32c 0333-66c 0367-99c 0400-32c 0433-66c 0467-99c 0500-32c 0533-66c 0567-99c 0600-32c 0633-66c dated-ex

12. Date-intermediate

  • Visited by Fa-hsien [ca. 337-ca. 422] - Melikian-Chirvani (n.d.).
  • 7th century AD - http://mfa.gov.af/en/page/4200
  • Visited by Hsüan-tsang [602-64] - Melikian-Chirvani (n.d.).
  • MBM chrono-tag **0633-66c ** - tmciolek 15 Sep 2013

13. Date-late

  • [missing data]

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • The Hadda cluster of monasteries (sites include Sotorak, Qal'a-ye Nader, Top Dara, and Paitava) were decorated with sculptures analogous to those from the Kapisa cluster - Melikian-Chirvani (n.d.)

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • archaeological, numismatic, stylistic, epigraphic, documentary evidence, pilgrim accounts

16. Additional notes

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

end of page

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License