Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mainamati-Lalmai mound

Mainamati-Lalmai ridge contained Buddhist ruins. One learns from him that even the war cemetery was built on the ruins of a Buddhist monastery. Apart from this, one may gather from Barry Morrison’s work on Lalmai and also from our field -observations that there are some small ancient settlements which were contemporary with the Buddhist remains and possibly represented nothing more than villages in the Lalmai hills. One such settlement where I observed ashy occupational soil and miscellaneous cultural debris is Barapara Bhuiyan’s Mound. The copper-plate inscription of Ranavankanalla  Harikaladeva was discovered ob the Mainamati ridge during a road repair work. The inscription referred to the capital city of pattikeara which has been identified with the Mainamati ruins. The city was supposed to be adorned with forts and monasteries. In the same way in 1875 the ruins of a small brick-fort were identified in the area of the Kotbari mound. The ruins were rediscovered during the Second World War and the Archaeological Survey of India moved in, briefly recording and protecting some sites. Among the sites which were greatly disturbed by the bricks-robbing activities of the military contractors, one may mention Ananda rajar palace, Rubpan Kenya’s palace, Bhoj Vihar, itakholam Rupban Mura, kotbari mound, etc. The Mainamati excavations of the Pakistan department of Archaeology began in 1955. The initial emphasis was on Salban Vihar, leading to the discovery of a large monastic complex and associated artistic and historical material. This was followed by work at Kutila Mura and Charpatra mura were the data on the Ananda Vihar excavations for the first few seasons the other excavations have remained completely unpublished.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The shrine of Bhusu vihar and vihar

The main shrine of this Buddhist complex lay in the southeastern part of the mound, about 320' to the south of monastery 2 and about 100' to the southeast o f monastery -1. It was a semi cruciform shrine with terraced ambulatory passages, measuring as a whole 125' north –south and 87’ 6" east –west .It was entered from the north, the assembly hall or the mandapa was in the center of the shrine. There were 3 ambulatory passages at three heights. The width of these passages was not uniform, varying between 4 and 6 in the highest terrace. In the lower terraces it was wider and more irregular, St the level of the lowermost terrace the outer facade of the shrine was decorated with bas-reliefs made of terracotta plaques. The utter wall at the ground level shows a combination of projections , recessions and offsets and was decorated with a series recessed panels made of mounded or carved bricks.bronze images, terracotta plaques, decorated bricks and inscribed terracotta sealing constitute the major antiquities found at the site , apart from the usual range of minor antiquities including pottery, The discussion on pottery is not accompanied illustrations and does not go much beyond the classification of the material in two groups- gray ware pottery and pink ware pottery . More than 60 bronze images have been recovered, mostly from inside the cells, although belonging to the late occupational level of the site, some of them could have been fashioned earlier and preserved in the monastery , All the images fund have been reported to have had back slabs and high pedestals, they represent the Buddha or Dhyani Buddha, Bodhisattva and Bodhisaktis . The images of akshobhya are said to be more numerous among the Dhyani Buddha figures. In the range of the Bodhisattava figures, Avaokitesvare is supposedly more common and the images of the different varieties of Tara dominate the range female figure .No large, life-like bronze images has been found , but a large and inscribed pedestal suggests that such figures existed . Some images are inscribed and all of them have one of two inscribe sealing attracted to the back of the back slap. It has been observed that ‘their elongated slim body, thin waist, broad chest and graceful developed features recalling the classical pala art ether standing or seated on elevated padmasana with or without any separate pedestal, are somewhat different from those of Mainamati which are characterized by more squat body , simple to crude style and more elaborate and prominent back slab and pedestals with foliage and there ornamental devices below the seat. The terracotta plaques are of two general sizes and belong to two essentially typological groups which have been somewhat inaptly described as early figures ,animals and birds and various geometric and floral compositions , The in influence of the Gupta classical art these terracotta’s and adds :In whatever aspect they are considered these terracotta’s and adds  in whatever aspect they are considered ,these terracotta have apparently made a significant contribution to the art tradition of Bangladesh ,There is a descriptive catalogue of 27 terracotta plaques .A large number of ornamental bricks which were used to decorate the outer wall of the shrine along with terracotta plaques have been obtained. The common designs are the lotus petal, stepped pyramid , dental edge , wavy lines floral and chain motifs ;the lotus petal and stepped pyramid designs are the most common designs on ornamental bricks not bricks at Vhasu vihar but also at Mainamati , Paharpur and there Buddhist sites .more than 250 inscribed terracotta sealing out of which more than a hundred are decipherable have been obtained in the Bhasu Vihar excavations .These have been divided into four groups : sealing with two lines of inscriptions below the traditional dharmachakra symbol flanked by two deer ;the inscription could not be satisfactorily read. sealing inscribed only with personal names such as Junaraksita , Dharmadeva, etc.; these constitute the vast majority of the excavated sealing . sealing bearing the formula of the Buddhist creed.a small number of sealing bearing only floral and geometric symbols .The fact that the inscribed material from Bhasu Vihar has not been properly read and published has to be regretted . It may be noted that we still do not have a idea of the inscription on the large bronze pedestal of many smaller inscriptions of the bronze images.

Lakshmindarer Medh

There are numerous mound in the vicinity of Mahasthangarh and the Bagura district as a whole.These mound will be briefly reported in the next chapter .Here we are concerned only with the excavated data .One may, however,note in passing that all there mounds give the impression of being structural mounds containing the ruins of stupas, temples and monasteries. They are all fairly compact and high mounds with plenty of brickbats on the surface. one may legitimately infer that they harbor the remains of burnt-brick structures.Chronologically,most of these structures probably belong to the period between the sixth seventh century and the twelfth-thirteenth century,roughly between the Gupta-post-Gupta period and the time of the pala-senas. Regretly only two of these sites have been excavated,the first one, lakshmindarer Medh in 1934-5 and the second one bhasu vihar, in the mid-seventies. The village of Gokul lies about a mile to the south of mahasthangarh, on the western bank of the Karatoy a which has formed a clear loop in its flow in this section.The village could have been the ancient village of Gopagriha, the name of which figures in one of the inscriptions found at mahasthangarh .There are two mounds in the village. lakshmindarer medh and netai dhopanir pat  mahasthangarh and its Environs lists their sizes,respectively,as 200' by 110' by 54' and 300' by 300 by 30' .The height of 54' for a mound is very high indeed in this part of the subcontinent and perhaps because of this the mound of lakshmindarer medh was excavated in 1934-6 by N.G. majumdar, The modern reports, however , put the height of the mound at 43' from the level of the surrounding plain . The mound, when excavated, revealed a single structural complex.It is essentially a polygon of 24 sides with a central shrine raised on an octagonal plinth .This central shrine could have been a stupa but no tease of it was found in the excavations, The most significant feature here is the cellular architecture in which 172 blind rectangular cells of different dimensions were packed solidly with earth and arranged in gradually rising tiers to support the lofty and massive podium of the central shrine, The shrine is place more than thirty feet above the ground level on a solid foundation raised by means of four massive walls forming a quadrangular platform, the intervening spaces of which were same compact by erecting cross-wanks and by filling up the cell-like enclosures , thus formed, with earth, subsidiary smaller quadrangles were also add on fort sides to lend further strength to the high and solid foundation supporting the shrine, These subsidiary quadrangles were also reverted on four outside by additional rows of walls and cells, they being of shallower and of less height as they reach the ground level , The western quadrangle is longer than those in the other three sides, and from the remains of the flight of steps it may be assumed that the main approach was from the west. This movel arrangement of buttress quadrangles not only let stability to the whole monument but also are to the grandeur and imposing character of the building level that once stood on it .Terracotta plaques and other associated objects date the first phase of the shrine in the sixth-seventh century. The original shrine of stupa on the central octagonal plinth gave way in the Sena period to a square shrine with a porch on the outside .Later on the door way of the shrine and porch was blocked and the floor level further raised to an known height. A small cell containing a human skeleton was found inside the shrine. A brick-lined pit was found to underlie this cell. A stone slab found in the center of the shrine carried 12 shallow holes . and a larger hole in its center yielded a gold leaf which was an inch square. The figure of a recumbent bull was engraved in relief on this gold leaf and this at least suggests that the Sena period shrine was devoted to the worship of Siva.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The discovery in the lalmai hill

The fact that, except for the chance find of a single palaeolithic tool from Chhagalnaiya, on palaeolithic site could be located in the territory of modern Bangladesh comes as a surprise.One must remember that there are large Pleistocene deposits in Bangladesh and that palaeolithic men had lived during the Pleistocene period. One must also recall that, although there is an almost total absence of suitable rocky material for  palaeolithic implements in Bangladesh, fossil wood occurs in reasonable quantities in many of the areas with Pleistocene deposits.The Barind tract of the northern part of Bangladesh, the Madhupur tract of the Mymensing and Dhaka districts, the Comilla-Noakhali hills of which the Lalmai hills are a part, and the Chittagong hilly areas are the major instances of Pleistocene deposits  in Bangladesh. The hypothesis could be checked in the field in the Lalmai area only in the early part of January 1989, and on the very first day of my personal exploration of the area it was possible to locate a stratified palaeolithic occurrence. The next spell of fieldwork, this time with the support of the archaeology project of the Jahangirnagar University, took place in April 1989 and resulted in the discovery of ten more palaeolithic occurrences.The Mainamati-Lalmai complex of hill, about 8 km long and 4.8 km wide at its maximum, extends from the Ranir Bangla ridge on the Comilla-Brahmanbaria road in the north to the vicinity of the Dhaka-Chittagong railway track in the south. The average height of this upland from the level of the surrounding  plain is about 12 m, with some individual spurs rising up to a height of 30-50 m. The northern part of this complex of hills is known as the Mainamati hills whereas the southern section is called the Lalmai hills. Basically this tract shows a spread of rolling uplands intersected by depressions. wherever the cliff- like formations are cut they show a clear cross-section of yellowish sandy material which is leached a little red towards the top. One can also observe some small nodule concretions and very rare small quartz pebbles in the section. Formerly, the area was given over to the jhum or slash –and-burn method of cultivation by a group of trials called the Tipras. Now the settled farmers use this area for vegetable cropping on the slopes and tops of the ridges and for normal rice cultivation in some of the depressions between the ridges. Vegetation has worn thin but one can notice stumps of sal, jack fruit and mango trees, apart from bamboo groves, etc. The area explored by us falls in the south and southeast  parts of the ridge. Our search for prehistoric tools was conditioned primarily by the distribution of fossil wood chunks which were used as raw materials. At the same time, we noted that not all types of fossil wood were preferred as raw materials. There was a distinct preference for only those pieces which showed below the cortex or surface skin a rather hard and flinty deep brown or darkish material. This shows that the prehistoric people concerned were closely familiar with the properties of fossil wood chunks of the area and their distribution.

Mound of Bihar

The mound of Bihar is only a kilometer south of Bhasu vihar and encircled y the Nagar river .It was excavated in 1979-83.The major discovery has been that of a monastery, the plan of which has been full obtained .It measures 57 m by 61 m and contains 37 monastic cells in all around the open courtyard: 10 each in the northern and southern wings 8 in the eastern wing and 9 in the western wing . The gateway projects outward from the center of the eastern wings. It was flanked on the outside probably by two guardrooms which survive in the form of two structures, each measuring 6.33 m by 5.9 m. A staircase led to the outer hall which also contained a brick platform with a semi circular structure at the base .The inner entrance hall is linked to the inner verandah from where a staircase with 3 steps goes down to the open courtyard .The monastic cells measure 3.3 m -4.5 m by 3.3 m. The partition walls are 1.5 m thick. The outer wall of the monastery which also the back wall of the monastic cells is 2.6 m thick while the thickness of their front walls  2 m . The lone surviving example of a door is 1.4 m wide.  In two cell s of  the eastern wing pedestals for image shave been found .The verandah is uniformly  2.7 m wide , with the western part of the southern wing showing  a brick platform . The thickness of the retaining wall of the verandah varies from 1.3 m in the eastern and western wings to 1 m in the northern  and southern wings . Deep digging revealed to conductional phases of the monastery, one built on the top of another without any alteration in the layout .The ruins of possibly another monastery were exposed to the south of this monastery the outline of which could not be fully obtained. Five monastic cells were excavated. One of them was found to possess a 2.2 m square platform . The back wall of these cells id 2.5 m thick and the thickness of the front wall is 1.8 m. The partition wall is 1.2 m thick. The southeastern portion of the mound showed the ruins of a temple with a high superstructure based on an irregular series of blind cells. It appears that the sanctum of the superstructure was built over the massive squares central cell of the cellular structure. This central cell internally measures 4.6 m N-S by 4 m E-W and externally 9.6 m N-S 9 m E-W. The massive eastern and western walls of the cell are 2.7 m wide and northern and southern walls are 2.5 m wide. Other subsidiary cells encircle this central cell in several rows on its four sides .The major antiquities discovered at the site are  one silver coin  of Sultan Sikandar shah , thirteen terracotta plaques , two terracotta seals, a few decorated bricks , miniature earthen pots , oil lamps , lids , glass bead ,terracotta beads balls toys,, net sinkers, bronze pieces , red , ochre’s , and iron nails.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mainamati- Lalmai hill

More than 20 mounds have been listed in the Mainamati- Lalmai hill area on Mainamati. These mounds have been ‘protected’ the existence of more than 50 sites in the area. The details of these additional sites seem to be unrecorded. The location of these mounds is to the west of the Comilla-Brahmanbaria road, a little beyond the crossing of the road with the Dhaka-Chittagong highway. The highest of these mounds is 30’ high from the level of the surrounding plain.Which is only a few feet high from the flat level, lies to its south. Mound no. 1B is a little further to the south and marked only by a scatter of old bricks and potsherds.These two mounds are near the Brigadier’s bungalow in the cantonment, mound no. 2 being to its west and mound no. 2A being to its east. The first one whose height is said to be 100’ including the height of the natural ridge is higher and larger than the second one.This Mound is about a mile to the northwest of kutila mura. A big water tank of the company line lise on the northern fringe of the mound. It is located about 3 miles to the north of salban Vihar and the west of the main road of the cantonment. A big mound 650’ square and about 15’high, this is about a mile to the north of the Bangladesh Academy of Rural Development outside the southern gate of the cantonment. Although unexcavated, the mound, about a furlong to the south of Ananda Raja’s Palace, showed the outline 250’ square of a monastery surrounding a central shrine.This is about half a mile to the south Ananda Vihar orAnanda Raja’s Palace yielded the surface indications of a 400’ square monastery with a central a shrine with massive walls, 6’ square chamber might have been created on the raised foundation and possibly as a part of cellular sub-structure, as at Gokul near Mahasthangarh..This mound is to the north of the Kotbari road and stands on a 60’ high ridge. A fairly large mound about half a mile to the west of Rupban Mura , this has been cut across by the Comilla-Kalir bazar road. This is the first site to have been discovered in the Mainamati-Lalmai complex. The indications of a 300’square monastery enclosing a cruciform temple with about 100’ long sides were noticed here. Situated immediately outside the eastern boundary of the Bangladesh Rifle’s office, this mound stands on a 60’ high ridge. Brick-robbing during the second world war led to the discovery of a 400’ square monastery enclosing a cruciform central shrine with re-entrant angles and recessed corners, embellished further by terracotta plaques and mouldings. Among other things, seven post containing hundreds of bronze votive images were discovered here, but only 13 of them reached the archaeologists. ‘The iconographic details and workmanship of these images are similar to those of the inscribed votive bronzes recovered from jewelry in Chittagong District, assignable to the ninth-eleventh century.This apparently undisturbed mound about 150 yards square is to the west of the Kotbari mound.: This mound is located almost in the central part of the Mainamati-Lalmai village and the name of a neighbouring village is still called Salbanpur.About a mile to the west of salban Vihar, this mound is located on the western fringe of the Mainamati hill. This mound is in the area of Ujirpur Mura , being about half a mile to its south.This mound is situated close to the village of uttar Vijaypuar, about 3 miles to the south of Salban Vihar.About 5 miles to the southwest of salban Vihar , this mound lies on a ridge in the eastern fringe of the Lalmai hills. This mound is located near the crossing of the Comilla-Chandpur and Comilla –Barura roads, about half a mile to the north of Lalmai Railway Station. This marks virtually the southwestern there have corner of the Lalmai ridge. On the top of the hill from where a good view is obtained of the dark and placid water of Daitya Dighi lying at its feet, there are some modern temples. Stone images here : Manjuvara, a variety of Bodhisattva Manjusri, and Surya. These two images are missing these days. It is near the Brigade Headquarters of the Bangladesh Regiment. This is the northernmost mound, also known as Queen Mainamati’s palace.

Sitakot of Nawabganj of Bangladesh

The site lies in the Nawabganj police station of the Dinajpur district. It is 2 miles to the southwest if the police station on the Nawabganj-Charkkai road and located at the southern edge of the village Fatehpur Marash. A preliminary work was undertaken in 1986 with a more thorough works in 1972-3.The excavations have revealed Buddhist monastery built on a square plan. The northern and southern wings have large projections on the outside. The northern and southern wing had large projection of this wing which projected 24' 6" outward from the alignment of the cells. The complex included two guardrooms or vestibules separated by an open space of the same size. The approach to the monastery was through this open space. The main gateway led to an entrance piercing the back wall. The outer projection on the south measured 85' by 16' 6" and was added later. It was built as a kind of hall and there was an entrance hall and a staircase at its eastern end and 11 cells each in the three other wings . The inner courtyard measured 139' by 135' and the retaining wall separating it from the inner verandah was 4' thick . The cells were 3-4' thick and the thickness of the back wall was 8' 6" . The inner verandah was possibly open right from the beginning. The central cells in the east, west and south wings were larger than the rest and each of them possessed a substantial brick platform which was possibly used to install a votive image . A religious function of these cells is undeniable. For instance, the main altar in the central cell of the western wing was built against the back wall in multi projected tiers, the top tier being 4' long and 2' 9" wide . The central cell of the southern wing might have served as the main shrine . A pillared pavilion built in front of this in a later period was intended to serve as the mandapa. The outer projection of the southern wing was also burnt during yard.The monastic cells at sitakot were provided niches in the back wall and the partition walls. The roofing material was rammed lime-surkhi supported by wooden beams and rafters, Large chunks of this material have been found in the excavated. Five small rooms fronted by a verandah and linked to the main building by a covered passage apparently constituted a toilet complex in the southeastern wing of the monastic complex, projecting well out of the main structure, A 9 wide staircase in the northeast corner led to the roof .Alternate projections and recesses marked the outer wall at intervals of 10 to 20 ft. There were projected mounding and offsets at the plinth level The stratigraphy of the site has not been discussed but two building periods have been postulated. Some cells were discarded during the late period The site does not seem to have been rich in major finds , which included only two Buddhist bronze images and about 132 ornamental bricks. These bronze images, one of Bodhisattva Padmapani and the other Bodhisattva manjusri , have been dated in the seventh –eighth century ,which seems to be the accepted date of the monastery as well.

Patharghata complex of paharpur

The site, or rather, a complex of sites, located in a large and undulating valley on both sides of the Tulsi-Ganga rivers, is in the panchbibi police station in the Bagura district and about 15 miles to the northeast of Paharpur. The remains apparently comprise some small mounds and a main settlement site. A number of solid stone blocks scattered along and in the vicinity of the river banks imply the existence of a stone-built bridge or a landing stage at this point. This has been dated to the pala period, although there is no positive proof in support of this dating. The reference point in the exploration report on Patharghata is a modern catholic mission, and a number of mounds have been reported in its vicinity. One of these mounds is 25 ft high and the whole area is strewn with ancient potsherds, bricks-bats, fragments of terracotta plaques and stone sculptural and architectural pieces. A small mound 50 ft across also near the Catholic mission, shows traces of a small temple with basement walls made of dressed and polished stone blocks. The carvings on the surviving architectural fragments suggest the pala period. A stone lintel piece with a frieze of garland-bearing dwarfs was found lying on the other side of the river. In the same area a mound called the Kasia Bari seems to be important both because of its size high and the number of Brahmanical black-stone images lying under a banyan tree on its top. The mound of Naupukuria is a little away from the mission to its west. It has been called an extensive settlement site. ‘Here extensive remains of stone and bricks walls, foundations, landing stages and probably a workshop for dressed and squared stone blocks are found ruthlessly exposed and mercilessly damaged and removed by brick-hunters, thus revealing some plans of large buildings one called Dhanabhandar potsherds, brickbats, terracotta and worked stone fragments are found all over the ruins. Recovery of some stone images from here mounds are also found in the neighbouring villages, and one of them, called the Uchai mound, perhaps shows the basement of a Buddhist stupa or shrine. This circular mound is almost fully occupied by a solid structure with thick cross-walls, the core being solidly filled with brick-bats.What is significant from the point of view of the present chapter is that in the collection of antiquities kept in the catholic mission house one could see pieces of gadrooned NBP pottery. What is of further interest is that the Dhaka museums shows in its sculpture gallery a female torso which is listed from Patharghata and rendered unmistakably in the kushan style. This seems to be an unpublished specimen. The NBP pieces and this female torso unmistakably establish an early historic antiquity for Patharghata some where below the mass of later structural ruins.

Kantanagar of the Dinajpur

The kantanagar temple is situated about 22 kilometers north from the Dinajpur town at the western side by the Dhepa river. Terracotta plaques has a unique emblem bearing this Noborotno temple in subcontinent architect. There were no terracotta plaques found in bangle at that time. The temple is established on a one meter high stone-platform in square and width build. Every sides of the temple are square length 60'-3" and in square built length 51 feet. Around the temple has 8 feet width veranda. Every veranda has 2 gigantic pillars. There are 3 entrances on biggest pillar and wall on every side. This opening entrance has help of arch like leave in built. The main room of the temple is smaller and its darkness.kantagi’s Idol is situated in this room. There are several small room in the around .The western side of veranda from the north that The shirked stair going upward from the northern part of the western veranda is the way of riding the second story. There are four small rooms at the up stairs. The up stair of the temple that is made as the dol stage is smaller than the down stair. There is no room. At the center there is a fifteen feet high apex. Other than this apex there are also nine more apexes. So it was called the nabaratna temple. In 1897 in an earthquake the apexes were broken down.The archeology department can not repair those for lack of model. It is said that the central apex of the temple was 70 feet high. Mr. Fergusson admired this temple a lot. The most remarkable characteristic of this temple is its terra-cotta plaques. Ramayan, mahavarat and many historical stories are made in pictures with terra-cotta. With this there is also the Bengali social life picture. Every pictures of the terra-cotta was unique.The wall of the temple from top to bottom is furnished with various plaques.The plaques are of very high quality. Earthquakes and various natural disasters harm the temple a lot. But even the plaques are made of mud but are still ok. The famous land leader king Prannath rai started the construction work of this temple before his death and his step son great king Ramnath rai ended the work. The king prannath rai died in 1722.king ramnath rai dead in it is accepted that the construction of this temple was completed in 1752. There was no existence of the kingship of dinajpur in 1452. in 17th century the kingdom was established and king prannath was the second king .