Saturday, April 9, 2011

The monastery at paharpur

The monastery measured 922' (north-south) by 919' (east-west) and was enclosed by a 16' thick wall which perhaps rose to a height of 12-15 feet. The thickness of this wall suggests an upper stored but no roof of that has been found. The main gateway was on the northern side and proceeded on the outside by a number of structures, one of which could have serve as a waiting hall or a hall for security guards. Two circular structures which stood on square bases and flanked the staircase leading to the entrance hall were perhaps votive stupas. The staircase was built by laying bricks-on-edge over flat bricks. The entrance hall was a pillared one, with its northern side being open. One notes a band of bricks-in-edge on the eastern and western walls at the height of 6' 6" .This was possibly intended merely as a decorative effect. One also notes several cells adjoining the eastern side of the entrance hall. It has been suggested that these cells were used as office rooms of the monastery. It has also been pointed out that the main passage to the cells was originally though one of these rooms showing cor-belled courses on the top of the openings in its eastern and northern walls. This passage was found filled up with debris during the excavations. The outer entrance hall have access to a pillared hall separated from it by a stone step and a stone these hold . There are grooves in the wall, indicating that the door leading to the outer wall was bolted on the side of the inner hall by a wooden log. The inner entrance hall opened on to the inner verandah and from there. There was a flight of steps to the courtyard directly in front of the main temple. The monastic cells which were 177 number and measure approximately 14' by13'.6" were arranged along the 8 to 9 ft. wide inner verandah. There were 45 cells in the northern wing and 44 cell in each wing. There was a central hall in the northern wing and on each of the other three sides there was a projection in the outer wall forming three cells with a passage around them. These central blocks, in fact, divided each of the fur wings into two sections. Apart from the main entrance there was a subsidiary entrance through the eastern segment of the northern side . A small passage across the middle of the eastern block possibly allowed for a private entrance. A flight of steps went down from the inner verandah to the courtyard in the middle of each side. The verandah was supported by pillars and fenced off from the courtyard by a railing except in the sections covered by the staircase. The basement wall of the verandah was decorated with ha single row of terracotta relief’s but this was done possibly during the last stage of construction .The monastic cells were no doubt meant for living but a good many of them had ornamental pedestal to carry images. These pedestals came up in the late phase of the monastery.

The main temple at paharpur

The main temple at paharpur stood approximately in the center of its monastic quadrangle and rose to its extant height of 72' in two terraces between the top and the basement An extensive staircase provided access to the two terraces from the north. The ground plan was in the shape of across with angles of projection between the arms. In the two upper terraces there was a circumambulatory walk enclosed by a parapet wall around the monument. The central element in the composition of this temple was a hollow square shaft rising high above the terraces .Projections containing an ante-chamber and a mandapa were added to each of the four faces of the second upper terrace ,leaving out a portion of the whole length of the square at each of the four corners. This outline was cruciform with one projecting angle between the arms of the cross. The circumambulatory walk on this level was made to conform to the outline of this plan which became more marked with the addition of a rectangular projection to each of the four sides in the first upper terrace .The alignment of this terrace was repeated at the basement level and this meant that the angles of projection in the plans of the first terrace and the basement were three each between the arms of the cross, apart from the projection caused by the staircase landing in the middle of the northern arm. There was also an enclosure wall properly aligned with the basement plan with only a slight deviation near the staircase . around the monument. The main shrine of the edifice was located at the top, comprising a square chamber with a circumambulatory passage around it. First, the main sanctuary ought to have been on the same level of the ante-chambers and the mandapas , there is no evidence of entry to this from them. Sarawati thinks that the brick-paved floor was meant to make the foundation of the lofty walls more solid, He believes that so far as the arrangement of the temple goes , the sanctuary could have neither been situated at the top no inside the central square pile. It is quite reasonable to infer that the temple was capped by some sort of superstructure . The arrangement of the superstructure at the lower terraces would appropriately suggest a roof rising in receding tiers over the vaults spanning the different corridors. The square masonry pile in the center , on the analogy of the pagan temple, may be said to have supported a curvilinear Sikhara as the crowning element of this colossal edifice. At pagan the central pile is solidly designed and constructed ,But at Paharpur , probably to reduce the weight of the stupendous building and to guard against resultant sinking , it was left hollow ,though sufficient stability for the accumulating weight as the monument rose up has been ensured in the enormous girth of each to the four walls.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Parasur Bari

About 200 yards to the north of mankalir Dhap the mound known locally as parasuramer bari .It was briefly excavated in 1907 but the excavations in 1961 brought to light a modern building which was constructed not earlier than the later part of the eighteenth century ,There was building phase bating from the fifteenth/sixteenth century below this and still below there was a building phase of probably eighth century ,as the terracotta plaques of typical pala school and other associated objects indicate.To the east of parasuramer bari is a well known as Jiyatkunda. A huge granitic rectangular stone block ,measuring 6 ft.10 ins. Long , 1 ft.8 ins. Broad and 1 ft. 6 ins. in thickness, lies across the eastern side, with 2 ft.1 ins.projecting inside , seemingly intended for the facility of drawing water, and quite evidently formed part of the original construction of the wall . The stone is carved with beautiful floral designs in relief and must once have formed part of a the original construction of the wall. The stone is carved with beautiful floral designs in relief and must once have formed part of a door sill of some Hindu temple of probably the later builders of the well because the well is of comparatively modern origin , dated in the late eighteenth early nineteenth century .A small Tank outside the Eastern fortification . This tank is due east of the Mankalir mound and outside the fort wall. This yielded a fragmentary stone inscription of ninth century which mentioned some members of a Nandi family, one of whom is said to have Gojul near Mahasthan.This mound which lies to the north of parasuramer bari and is not far from the northern rampart wall was excavated in 1928-9 . Apart from the remains of two pala period temples ,ascribed to the early and late period temples. Ascribed to the4 early and late periods of the excavated deposits , the excavations shows some subsidiary structures in the o pen court to the north. The earlier pala temple was supposedly constructed in the eighth century and measure 98 ins.from the east to the wet and about 42 ins.from the north to the south , Its southern half was obliterated by the construction of the late temple but the basement of the plinth could be traced on the north and east. The entire length of the basement wall was decorated by a band and two plain moldings. The northeastern and northwestern corners of the temple have recessed angles. The sanctum must have been located at the center .A drain carrying the libation water of the sanctum was constructed partly of bricks and partly of stones collected from an earlier building phase This drain is 36 ins.Long from the north to the south and almost bisects the temple. This discharged itself in to a sock jar with pottery rings placed below. Two rectangular stone pillars were placed lengthwise near the discharge end. The pillars, square in section with chamfered corners, are decorated with halt lotus medallions, the kirtimurha and floral scroll mounding in low relief, characteristic of the late Gupta period of sixth-seventh century.


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.

Govinda Bhita Western Temple

The western temple complex lasted till the Muslim conquest. In the eastern temple complex there are four building periods. The upper most one belongs to the Muslin period and the next one which cannot be dated is fragmentary and insignificant. The period below this shoe a temple which is contemporary with the western temple that was built in the eighth-ninth century .The temple in the earliest period of the site is 56' square with a central altar and surrounded by a 3'-4' wide procession path. This also seems to have been raised on a high terrace because its basement wall with several offsets and ornamental moldings goes to a great depth. The Govinda Bhita mound lies straight on the river bank an this obviously necessitated some steps to prevent river erosion at this spot .There was a 150' long stone revetment wall against the northern slope of the mound on the river bank which also possessed a stone landing ghat on the eastern side. A number of complex walls including an outer massive wall with offsets and a semi circular retaining wall have been noted in this area in the context of the early pala period .It has been reported that during this period the eastern temple was divided into a number of small cells by partition walls which were 1'' 6' wide.

In the excavations conducted in 1928-9 the section of the rampart which was explored covered roughly the northeastern part of the eastern rampart. The north-south running rampart wall takes at this point a turn of about 100 to the west before regaining its regular north-south alignment. The high mound at the re-entrant angle here is locally known as Munir ghon. Incidentally, this place is close to a bathing place on the karatoya , known as sila Bevir ghat which was known also to the karatoya mahatmya as siladwipa and marks the spot of a holy dip for the Hindus. The pala period rampart wall here was 11' wide of which 2' on either face consisted of brick work, the rest being filled with rammed earth. There were two semi-circular bastions at the outwork of the angular re-entrant projectction. On the inner side a terrace was found associated with the whole thing ,possibly to provide access from the inner side to the bastion area .The whole complex might have serve as watch tower on the river bank. The archaeological work since then seems to have been concentrated on the northern rampart. It is important to remember that an inlet of the Karatoya separates the fortification wall on the northern side from the modern archaeological guest house and the Govinda Bhita complex beyond that. The northeastern part was likely to have suffered from the erosive effect of the river in high flood, and thus considerable care was lavished at this spot to make the fortification secure. Two massive parallel walls have been noted at this point, apart from a semi circular bastion. Inside the bastion area there were a number of guardrooms on either side of a 8' 2' wide passage. These have been dated to the pala period .There is a plethora of disjointed and fragmentary walls in and around this spot.

Khota Pathar Mound

An enormous door sill of granite stone , measuring 9 ft. 4 ins. By 2 ft. 5 ins. Still lies on the top of this mound which is located about 200 yards to the northwest of the mazar .It has a floral design carved in its face and the top is recessed and provided with holes 6 ft. apart for the door shutters. It seems that this mound was excavated in 1907and a stone pavement was reached at a depth of 5 ft. The stone actually lay on the top of a 9 ft. long rubble wall and the stone pavement was the original stone pavement of the temple. The temple measured 24 ft .by 15 ft. and its foundation walls of stone could be clearly traced. The walls above this level were of brick in clay masonry .The door jambs, lintels and the ornamental ornamental portion above the door were possibly made of stone. The large piece of stone which we even today on the top of the mound the sill of the temple structure .several carved stone pieces were obtained during the excavations. One of them measured 2 ft.3 ins, by 8 ins, and showed a relief of three seated Buddha figures, each places in an arched niche , with a devotee seated with folded palms to the left . The central figure was in meditative posture and the figures on the two sides were in the earth-touching pose bhumisparsa mudra. It is obvious that a large Buddhist temple has stood at this site. This mound lies a little to the north of the Khoda Pathar mound . There were buildings of cornices of many varieties. Portions of undulated eaves, And of amalaka fruits of the pinnacles of a temple. I got also twelve square alto-relieves, and one small pilaster or baluster. Which formed the upright of two of these panels of a long frieze …Along with these I obtained two bronze figures of Ganesa and Garuda, and a fragment of blue stone pedestal with the end of an inscription in mediaeval Nagari characters reading nagrabara, which would seem to show that the great mound of Mankali-ja -Jundil was part of an ancient agrahara belonging to Brahmans.Associated the name of this mound with the Jaina apostle, Goshala ,who was called Manjhali-putra .He collected in 1912 the torso of a crude and unfinished jaina image from this mound. The mound was excavated in 1565-6 and revealed in the top level the remain of a pre-Mughal mosque .But nondescript building remains were encountered in an earlier phase which yielded some sunga plaques and a fairly large collection of the famous N.B.P pottery.

Bairgir Bhita Complex

The temple belonging to the late pala period was built a little to the south of the earlier temple and partly overlay it. It measured 111ft. From the east to the west and 57ft . From the east to the west and 57ft. from the north to the south. The plan is difficult to understand because of its dilapidated condition but a number of well chiseled pillar bases and stone door jambs bearing do well marks indicate the presence of a porch in the mile of the northern wing . A sloping platform possibly associated with ablutions and divided into 23 compartments or panels ran along the entire eastern edge of the temple Five reservoirs of kundas were also found in the Bairaglir Bhita complex.The largest of them measured 10 by 5 ft. where as the diameter of a circular one was 5ft. 9 ins. These reservoirs must have been associated with some religious practices. The area to the north of Bairagir Bhita was used as a large open courtyard. The compound wall which was made of rough rubble masonry was 3 ft. wide and has been traced for 175 ft. along its northern preserved ones measure 4 ft. by .ft. 6 ins. The floor-level of these cells is 5 ft. below the level of the courtyard of the late pala period and has been dated to the eighth-ninth century . A small shrine which shows a square platform surrounded by a passage has been traced in the northwestern corner of the complex.The remains of a small temple dating from the ninth –tenth century were found about 200 yards to the northeast of Bairagilr Bhita in 1928-9.The temple showed in its upper level a rectangular structure with a plinth which was 5 ft. high from the level of the east by 5 stone flagged masonry steps. The stone pieces were quarried from the earlier phase of construction and one of them was a lintel made of black basalt showing in the characteristic style of the seventh eighth century a row in low relief of kirtimukha heads emitting garlands of pearls from their mouths. The walls of the temple also show that some decorated bricks and terracotta plaques of the pharpur type were built into them. These traits dared the temple in the ninth tenth century However, in its earlier phase which is undated the temple measured 24ft.32ft. with a central hall and a passage around, within a short periods the temple was rebuilt twice , leading to the additions of a verandah on the south a buttress wall with deep foundations on the north a new floor level which was higher by 1 ft. 6 ins. Than the original one and a flight of steps on the east with rooms on each flank .A brick paved altar has been found in the eastern wall . The nature of the shrine the deity to which the temple site .Five ring wells with a diameter of about 3 ft. each encircled the platform.

Govinda bhita mound

The mound called Govinda Bhita is on a bend of the karatoya to the northeast of the fortified city. The mound is across the ditch outside the northern rampart and about a couple of furlongs beyond. It was excavated in 1928-9.According to the Sanskrit text Karatoya Mahatmya or the greatness of the river Karatoya .Which has been dated to the twelfth-thirteenth century, a temple of Govinda of Vishnu marked the northern limit of the city . As the mound is known as Govinda Bhita of the house of Govinda even know in the local tradition. There is no reason to doubt the evidence of this text. The building remains excavated within a massive enclosure wall show four period between the late Gupta period and the Muslim occupational phase of the site. The 6 ft. thick enclosure wall western side where it stands up to a height of 8-11 ft. and is 114 ft. long. There are two distinct sets of buildings inside the enclosure. These have been named eastern and western temples in the archaeological literature. The earlier phase of the western temple goes back possibly to the sixth-seventh century . Its western wall is marked by 16 offsets and is said to bear close affinity with the fabric of the basement wall of the main temple at Paharpur. The western temple was apparently entered from the west. A 30 ft. long and 9 ft. wide porch marked this entrance. The later temple was partly built on the ruins of the earlier one in about the eleventh century .The enclosure wall of the temple complex came to be built during this period. The temples of thee two periods were both constructed on high raised terraces but in the case of the second period temple the excavated evidence is detailed. An elaborate high terrace structure was created in the center after raising the earlier level of the plinth to several feet. The central walls of the upper terrace are connected on their exterior by a series of parallel walls by means of short cross-walls, thus forming an outer row of cells in the foundation. In the same way , a row of 5 superficial cell in the interior on each side except east were found arranged around  a solid rectangular brick platform which must have originally formed the foundation of the high superstructure. In three of these cells ring-wells have been found ,which were also probably of superficial nature. This curious cellular style of construction, we now know from other development in building arts in ancient Bengal. These superficial cells ,arranged in different terraces around a central platform, were filled in with compact earth and rammed so as to strengthen the surrounding area capable of securely raising a towering superstructure of in other words, these cellular structures had the advantage of raising the high structure with high plinth visible from a great distance and thus gained for it a commanding prospect.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Evidence period of Mahasthangarh

The individual mounds which have been excavated in mahasthangarh and its vicinity have generally revealed structures which are not earlier in any case than the late Gupta period . most of these structures in fact belong to the later periods. The Gupta-post-Gupta and later structural evidence from these mounds will be considered in a later chapter .Here we are concerned with the excavated data from the earlier levels.In an excavated fortified city the history of the defence wall is a major item of interest.The published literature on Mahasthangarh does not suggest that any co-ordinated and determined effort has ever been made to know  the history of its fortification wall. The following extract from the published literature will support our inference . the nature of the fortress wall and its bastion was ascertained by operations on a high mound at one of the re-entrant angles of the eastern rampart, locally known as mnunir ghon, situated not far from sila Devi’s ghat .The rampart wall here was found standing to a height of 10 feet and at least 11 feet broad , of which about 2 feet on either face was brick work and the core built up of brick bats laid in mud mortar . The  general direction of the wall is north-south but before it turns to the west for a distance of 100 feet and resumes its course to the north.The outwork at the re-entrant angular projection consisted of two semi-circular bastions , both of which were later encased in a superficial brick-work.The floor associated with the great wall, which points to the bastioin’s later date of construction.The structure was probably intended to serve as a watch tower to guard the river bank.A terrace was also constructed along the inner side of the outwork. The date of the rampart wall here was ascertained by associated antiquities ans characteristics of the pala period.The foregoing is Nazimuddin  ahmed’s summary of the work done on the rampart in the  archaeological survey of India excavations at the site in 1928-9.This earlier defense composed of conspicuously large sized bricks has a pronounced barrier on the outside.An inscribed clay seal of the Gupta period found associated with the earlier defense wall indicates its date , but their mutual relation remains yet obscure . considerable extent of the northern fortification wall, dated to eighth century was exposed during the operation. It shows several repair and rebuilding phases, and in average measures about 13 feet width and still stands to general height of about 4 to 5 feet Deep digging seems to have been done Lin two area ahmed .The Govinda  Bhita area outside the northeastern corner of the fortification and the north eastern area within the fortification . In the Govina  Bhita area the virgin soil was reached at a depth of 25 feet from the surface.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sila Devir Ghat of mahasthangarh

There is a third opening which which leads directly to a bathing place called the sila Bevir Ghat the ghat pt the bathing place called of sila Devi on the river karatoya . On the north there are two opening snatan sabeber Galy and the unnamed one leasing to Ghararduar village across the kalusaha bil. The southern entrance is known as Burir Darwaza (the door  of gate of he old woman), Some isolated mounds , each known by its local name , are sprwas over the eastern half of the fortified area .The western half is devoid of any such conspicuous mound . At the southeastern corner we have a dargarh and a mosque commemorating shah sultan Balkhi Mahisawae who conquered the area for Islam possibly in fourteen -fifteenth century A.d. of earlier . About 200 yard  to the northwest of the dargah there is a mound which is known as khoda -ra-pathar because an enormous door -sill of granite stone is lying on it . About 400 the north of manrbalir Dhap with a well near it. Further north is Baiagir Bhita. A high mound at one of he re-entrant angles of the eastern rampart is not far from  sila Devir Ghat and is known as munir Ghon . Outside the fortification but lyind close to its northeasrern cormer on a bend of the karatoya is the mounds ansd have been at least partially explored , throeind light n the archiercural history of the site .The issue of identification in the perface to the 15  volume of his Reports ,Cunnindham wrires that one of his obkects in visiting northern Bengal in1879-80 was to look for  the anciend caputal called paundravarddbana by look for the site of the ancient city at mahasthan on the bank of the kararoya river .According to him the proof of the identification rest partly on the agreement of the distance and bearind from the neighbourhood of Rakmahal. 

The location of mahastangath

The site is located about 8 miles to the north of the district town of Bagura .It is a large and rectangular fortified enclose on the west bank of the Karatoya river .It measures 5000 ft. from the north to the south,4500 ft. form the east to west and rises 15ft. high on the average from the level of the surrounding plain. At the corner bastoons the rampant rises to a height of 15ft. there are a few isolated mounds insides the area surrounded by the brick ramparts but the area as a whole has been reduced to agricultural fields. when Alexander Cunningham visited the site in 1779-80 he observed :The rampant generally are covered with rather thick jungle and so also are most of the brick mound, but all the rest of the place has been cleared and divided into fields .Within a radius of five miles from Mahastangarh there are more than 30 mounds of various sizes. This feature lends a great interest to the site, and as Nazimuddin Ahmed writes,'the present extent of its ruins with its suburbs is unparalleled by any other ancient site in Bengal .The Karatoy was once a major river .There is an early mediaeval text called the karatoya-mahatmyam of the greatness of the karatoy,which sings the praises of the river and the sacredness of the site of Mahastangarh and its environs on its bank . The place is still held sacred by the Hindus and is visited by thousands planets, known as the Narayani-yoga, which occurs in the north of Pasha or December once in about twelve years. And the fair is also held here every the last day of the Bengali year,about the middle of April. On the eastern side the site was protected by the karatoya and on the other three sides by a moat the remains of which are still visible .The moat on the south is now known as the Baranari Khal, that on the west as the Gilatola Khal, and that on the north as the Kalidaba sagar the last being an offshoot of an extensive bill of that name khal in Bengali means a canal whatever bil denote a large swampy tract. There are traces of gateways of entrances on all side of the ramparts the main one is on the west and called the Tamrasvara or Tamba entrance probably of later date. There are at present three entrance on the eastern side The main one which is Known as the Dorab shah gate is almost at the southeast corner,but at the southwest corner it salt inside the fortification at this spot.