Nava Vihara monastery, (near) Balkh, Velayat-e Balkh, AF

Raw data

"Nava Vihara (Sanskrit: "new temple" or "new monastery" (see vihara), has been arabized as Nau Behar or Navbahar) was a Buddhist stupa or monastery near the ancient city of Balkh, in the Greater Khorasan province of the Persian Empire (now in present-day Afghanistan). The temple may have been an old Zoroastrian fire-temple, or it may have been converted to a Zoroastrian temple (sources differ). Balkh was also the birth place of Zoraster [&] From the Memoirs of Xuanzang, we learn that, at the time of his visit in 630, there were in Balkh, or its vicinity, about a hundred Buddhist convents […]."

"017. Balkh: Bala Hissar (Citadel) […] Accounts from the 10th century AD onward indicate that Balkh was ringed with earthen walls, within which stood a fine citadel, mosque and other buildings necessary for Balkh to become an important trading center (a necessary stop on the Silk Road with links to India and China) and a center of education (in 980 AD the philosopher-scientist Ibn Sina was born in Balkh, as was the poet Ferdowsi). Those same earthen walls can still be seen over a length of some 10 kilometres, to the north of which lies a secondary fortified area, the Bala Hissar." - DoDLRMP and CEMML (2010:#017 Balkh: Bala Hissar (Citadel))

"The most famous Kushan king was Kanishka (ruled 78 - 102 CE), whose western capital was at Kapisha. He supported the Sarvastivada School of Hinayana. [….] Nava Vihara, the main monastery at Balkh, soon became the center of higher Buddhist study for all of Central Asia, comparable to Nalanda Monastery in central northern India. It emphasized study primarily of the Vaibhashika abhidharma and admitted only monks who had already composed texts on the topic. Since it housed a tooth relic of the Buddha, it was also one of the main centers of pilgrimage along the Silk Route from China to India." - Berzin (2001-2006a).

Input by: tmciolek, 24 Mar 2012.

“[Balkh…] The Chinese monk Fa-Hein (法顯) was here around 400 AD. Xuanzang visited Balkh in 628 (貞觀二年) when it was a flourishing centre of Hinayana Buddhism. According to Xuanzang […] "The capital has a circumference of about 20 Li. People called it Little Rajagriha. The city is well fortified but it does not have a large population. Crops are abundant, with a great variety of flowers. One tooth of the Buddha is kept here [= in Nava Vihara], 1 inch long, 0.8-0.9 inch in circumference, yellowish white and shiny. “

"“Arabs attacked Balkh in 645 AD. In 653 al-Ahnaf raided the town again and compelled it to pay tribute. Arabian records show "the Arabs plundered the town and killed the people indiscriminately. It is said that they raided the famous Buddhist shrine of Nava-Vihara near Takhta-i-Rustam and plundered the gems and jewels studded on statues and stupas, but probably did no considerable harm to the buildings or to the monks there". Buddhism continued to flourish with the monasteries as centers of Buddhist learning and culture. In 715, Qutayba bin Muslim al-Bahili, Governor of Khurasan (呼罗珊), established a firm Arab hold in lands beyond the Oxus. The resident monks of the Vihara were either killed or forced to abandon their faith. The Viharas were razed to the ground. Nava-Vihara was left in ruins.”
Input by: tmciolek, 04 May 2013.

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 19 May 2013

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 20 km from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Nava Vihara monastery, Afhganistan.

General location of the Nava Vihara monastery, Afhganistan.
Lat 36.7649 Long 66.903
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (, 2012.

Google Map link:,%20AF)&ll=36.7649,66.903&spn=05.0,05.0&t=k&hl=en

Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Afghanistan:Velayat-e Balkh

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx, Lat 36.7649 Long 66.903 - based on visual identification of the citadel site in satellite imagery,, tmciolek, 24 Mar 2012.

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

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • Sarvastivada - Berzin (2001-2006a).

11. Date-early

  • 6th century AD - (Litvinskii et al. 1996:178)
  • MBM chrono-tag 0500-32p 0533-66p 0567-99p - tmciolek 19 May 2013
  • 0500-32p 0533-66p 0567-99p 0600-32c 0633-66c 0667-99c 0700-32c dated-el

12. Date-intermediate

  • MBM chrono-tag 0600-32c - tmciolek 19 May 2013

13. Date-late

  • MBM chrono-tag 0700-32c - tmciolek 19 May 2013

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • [missing data]

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • [missing data]

16. Additional notes

  • In 630 AD - about a hundred Buddhist convents, with 3,000 devotees
  • Navasangharama. "An ancient monastery near Baktra [Balkh - tmc], famous for three relics of Sakyamuni (a tooth, basin, and staff)." - Muller (1995a-present)

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

  • [missing data]

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