Bangarh: Hidden History Reflecting Bengal’s Archeological Renaissance

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Rana Das, Editor-in-Chief: How can a society grow without its history! Can a nation stand by ignoring its historical significance! Bangarh, an ancient city and a historical place, seems to be losing its importance. Can an entire history be put in just one signboard! Bangarh seems to have adopted it, courtesy – human civilisation.

Lack of proper maintenance and a century-long excavation process getting stopped midway are some of the reasons why the history of Bangarh still remains below the reach of the human civilisation. However, historians claim that Bangarh can change the history of India. Bangarh is an ancient city situated in South Dinajpur under the Gangarampur police station. Excavation process did begin, but was stopped midway. The archeological significance now remains within the ambit of just a signboard. The authorities think that this is how they complete their responsibility. But they forget that due to their so-called ‘responsibility’, Indian civilisation moves one step behind from knowing the history. Atleast the teachers and professors of history from different colleges and universities believe so.

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Approximately, few years prior to the year 2000, Achintra Krishna Goswami, Sanskrit
professor of Balurghat college heard that few children got hold of a round-shared object by digging out sand near the Purnabhaba river. The curious professor reached the spot to find that the children recovered an oval-shaped black colour object which looked like a cannon ball. He got hold of it in exchange for some money. By searching more, he recovered similar objects and took them to his own museum. One of those recovered things broke due to unknown reasons. This lead the professor to believe that it is definitely a cannon ball. Later on, the professor gave an interesting information on this issue.

Achintya Krishna Goswami said that Babur was the first in the Indian history to use gun powder in the first battle in Panipath on 1526. The cannon balls recovered from the banks of Purnabhaba river can change the Indian history. It is significant as years before the Panipat’s battle, Bangarh civilisation had developed. Pal-Sen title probably existed during those times. It is during that period that these gun-powders were used in those cannon balls.

Hence, not during Babur, but the use of gun powder existed in out Indian history. Professor Achintya showed the recovered cannon ball to me. He said that many hidden history of India is buried beneath our land. The Indian Army also took one of those recovered cannon balls as samples and have kept it in their museum. Despite of continuous efforts, Professor Achintya could not begin the excavation process. He passed away later on. After him, there was none who could think of Bangarh once again. Unfortunately, the hidden history of Bangarh still remains buried.

About Bangarh:

Bangarh is located 45 km away from Balurghat in South Dinajpur. It falls under the Gangarampur police station. Under the leadership of Calcutta University Professor K G Goswami, the work for excavation begain in 1937. This led to the discovery of temple-parts during the period of Pal era. After this, Bangarh came under notice. But after this, no more excavation was done. However, the excavation process was resumed in 2008-2009 after pressure from different sections. But it did not proceed much.

Officer T J Baidya of Archeological Survey Kolkata is doing research on a soil mound, stretched through 140 acres of land, and its adjoining land stretched through 1000 acres of land.

On the way to Bangarh, one will find a signboard which holds the history of the entire area. This is presently the only source of Bangarh’s history. However, the Indian Archaeological Survey says that due to their excavation work, a huge history of the Pal-Sen era is buried underneath. Based on excavation by the Calcutta University, it has come into notice that, in Bangar’s site lies two discovered two rectangular-shaped places known as ‘Kotibarsha’ and ‘Debikot’.

The region in its north-east is also under this place. From Maurya era to the Muslim period, five sub-divisional levels were detected in the area. A half-moon shaped pillar and a lotus on it of the Pal dynasty was recovered. A barn was also found at the place. But nothing else was recovered more than this because the excavation work was not completed. Hence, a lot of history was buried underground.

Bangarh’s History

The earliest mentions about the Kotivarsha town are found in the Vayu Purana (XXIII,209) and the Brihat Samhita (XI,II). Lexicographers, Hemchandra (the Abhidhanachintamani IV,977) and Purushottama (in his Trikandashesha) have mentioned the city by several names – Umavana, Banapura, and Shonitapura. Sandhyakara Nandi in his Ramacharita described at length about the temples and the lakes of the city. The ruins of the city are found in Bangarh, which is located at Gangarampur city, about 45 km south of Balurghat city, in Dakshin Dinajpur district of West Bengal state in eastern India. It has variously thought of as part of Pundravardhana or Rarha regions. There was a Brahmin densities at Devikota.

Muslim rule was first established in Bengal in 1204 by Bakhtiyar Khilji. The kingdom was called Lakhnawati or Lakhnauti. The capital was located sometimes at Lakhnawati and sometimes at Devkot. Bakhtiyar Khilji died at Devkot in 1205-06, possibly murdered by Ali Mardan, who was governor of Naran-Koh, although this account is deemed erroneous by most Historians and it is established that Bakhtiyar died as a result of the physical wounds and mental trauma he endured from his unsuccessful trip to Tibet which was essentially cut short in northern Assam.

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