Friday, March 25, 2011

Paharpur

The site which is located in the old Rajshahi district near its border with the Bagura district can be approached in two ways: from the Jamalganj station of the parbatiput section of the Bangladesh Railways, from which it is about 3 miles to the west; or from Jaipurhat which is about 6 miles to the northwest of  Paharpur. The area is not covered by any major route of traffic and retains, perhaps because of this , a lot of the quiet charm of the countryside. From the ground- level of the monastic courtyard the tower of the main shrine is still 72' high and from the level of the countryside around its height should be a few feet more, The tower is the most prominent land mark for some miles around in a otherwise flat countryside, an to the villagers of the area it is simply pahar or the hill. Somewhere in the vicinity of the archaeological complex one can find Mr.Rasik sardar who was present at all the excavations at the site beginning from 1922-3 and who can tell tales of archaeologists of a bygone era. We would like to add ourselves that the excavations at Paharpur in twenties and the publication of the results as a memoir in 1938 must be viewed as a major triumph of the old Archaeological survey of India. A number of people had visited the site before, however , concluded that the ruins were those of a large Brahmanical temple because one of the terracotta sculptures represented the skeleton goddess Kai.This obviously introduce an element of confusion which could be settled only much later when an inscribed stone pillar fragment found near the southwestern boundary of the ruins was discovered to carry the name of dalbalagarbha as the donor of the pillar for the pleasure of the three Jewels or triratna and the good of all creatures. The great mound stands in the middle of a large enclosure, about 1500 feet square outside ,formed by a massive earthen embankment, about 150 feet broad on the east side, I forced my way on to the top of the southern embankment on an elephant; and in the same way I was able to examine several parts of the broad eastern embankment, which is everywhere covered with bricks and the remains of walls. On the low ground inside the closure the jungle was so high and so dense that it was quite impenetrable to a man. I forced my way through on an elephant the foot of the mound, and ascending a short distance on the southeast side to a small clear spot, I was able to examine the site at leisure. With the exception of a fem tanks ,there was nothing to be seen but thick jungle , On the slope we found several broken terracotta alto-relieves and pieces of carved brick, A party of coolies was then set to work to clear the jungle on all the slopes of the mound , and to make a rough path up to the top. In the present instance the Raka’s ahentrepeated what I had previously heard from the people of the surrounding villages, that a great treasure was buried in the mound. This is the general belief all over the country ,but it is in Bengal alone that the owner of the land will any excavations.