The village Masarh is about six miles west of Arrah town-the headquarters of the district.It is commonly believed that the village was once almost on the bank of the river Ganga that has now receded to a distance of about 10 miles.Masarh is an ancient village full of relies. The old name of the village, as mentioned in the inscriptions in the Jain temple of Parasnath at the village, is Mahasara.
According to legend, it is the seat of Banasura or Banaraja whose daughter Usha was married to Aniruddha, a grandson of Lord Krishna. Hiuen Tsang visited the village and the village is identified to be Hiuen Tsang's Mo-cho- so- la. General Cunningham of the Archaeo- logical Survey of India mentions that the village was originally called Padmavatipura till Vimalanatha, a Jain Kshatriya of Masarh, a village elsewhere, became the proprietor of the village and changed the name to Mahasara.
Mahasara means large lake. Near the village there is a large tank commonly supposed to have extended over 52 bighas of land. The tank is now mostly silted up excepting a few patches.
There is another legend about the place-name. Some say that the previous place-name of the village was Malla Sanrh. Malla means a wrestler and Sanrh means a bull. It is said that King Banasura had built an akhra or a place for wrestling bouts where be used to practice wrestling and even wrestle with a bull. There is a mound near Karisath railway station, which is pointed out to be the place of the wrestling bouts of Banasura.
According to another legend, there were two janapadas here namely, Karusha and Malad. Karusha, the name of the railway station and the small village substitutes Karusha, and Masarh is substituted for Ma-lad. Another legend is that Masarh is the ancient Sonitpur, the seat of Aniruddha, and the grandson of Lord Krishna. Tejpur in Assam is also claimed to be the ancient Sonitpur, the capital of Aniruddha. All these legends, however, make out that Masarh is evidently an ancient site, the history of which has not yet been fully disclosed
A number of broken Shiva lingam made of glazed black stone are still lying scattered about. It is said that the legendary king Banasura was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. The place was the seat of Shaivism and the Shiva lingam in the temple has been regularly worshipped. A large image identified as that of Vishnu was found at Masarh towards Karisath village. This eight feet high image has been removed and is now preserved at the Patna Museum. The villagers of 'Masarh think that the removal of the mage, which was the image of Banasura Raja, has been the cause of the economic poverty of the villagers.
A very remarkable and unique feature of the village is a Jain temple of Parasnath, which also accommodates Lord Shiva in his linga roopa. The villagers think that the Jain temple was allowed to be constructed only on the condition that a Shiva lingam is enshrined within. The Jain temple is about sixty feet high and is rectangular in shape. It is located by the side of a big tank in an area of about three bighas of land. There is an open platform with six round pillars about seven feet high and four feet in diameter supporting a roof.
The pillars are well executed and have got some carvings near the top. After the courtyard there is a pradakshina path, which leads to a door facing the north, which leads again to the room of the main shrine of Parasnath. The room where the deity is enshrined is rectangular and the image of Parasnath is in a sitting posture. The image is in black stone and is well- polished. It is about four feet high.
There is a religious trust, known as Manilal Trust, which looks after the temple. The daily offerings are coloured yellow arwa rice,kamalgatta, keshar, flowers and water. The annual puja takes place in the month of Shravana when hundreds of Jains visit and do bandana at the temple.
The Shiva temple facing east is in the same building. There is a dome on the top of the temple. The lingam, is enshrined in a dark and unventilated room measuring 16' X 12'. On the eve of Shivaratri and in the month of Shravana, the deity is worshipped with great pomp and hundreds of pilgrims congregate. In the Shravana month the deity is offered leaves and flowers of akwan plant, dhatura, flowers of kanail, etc.
Opposite the Shiva temple there is a Devi temple. It has been recently constructed but the deity is ancient. The image of thegoddess was enshrined by the ancestor of a family of this village, which has now shifted to Udwantnagar. Although commonlysaid to be a Devi image, the foot of the image rests on a peacock. The priests would not allow a further investigation as to whether the image is of a female deity Devi Saraswati or of Kartikeya.
The only door leads to the main shrine which opens into Small mandap 8'X4', and on the same mandap on right side there is a Nandi and a small Shiva lingam. A number of images of other deities Ganesha, Saraswati and Vishnu, all very old, have also been preserved on the mandap.
There are a number of other broken images of various deities. Two broken figures beautifully carved with images of Buddhist and Brahminical deities are lying uncared for. Largely attended melas are held on Chaitra, Navami and Vijaya Dashmi at the Devi temple. A visit to Masarh gives the impression that time has stood still here and the relies liberally scattered about amply suggest the glorious days Masarh has had. It is a landmark now housing a Jain image of Lord Parasnath and a Shiva lingam on the same site