November 27, 2008

Excavation at Moghalmari Buddhist Monastery, Paschim Medinipur

A site at Monoharpur or Mogholmari in Paschim Medinipur (also known as Hanria Bhati because of mass production of crude wine from rice) has recently been marked and excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India.
We, two teachers went there with our students to show them a newly discovered site. We wanted to show them how excavation is done--vertically and sometimes horizontally. We saw a portion of the area vertically excavated and a round wall of red bricks very beautifully and carefully laid out.

The area is protected by wooden fence, but some local Santhal children who knew little and love people helped us by opening the gate.
Some of the students went down and inspected the wall. Our history professor explained things in details.

He said that many artefacts belonging to the Gupta Age have been discovered. The site is believed to have been once a big Buddhist monastery. It may be noted here that from the name of the place it is understandable that some battle took place here in the medieval period when some Moghols (Moghuls) were defeated.

The place is now inhabited by Santhals (Adivasi or aboriginals of Bengal) and on the very site a small village bazaar is also held. A Hindu temple is also erected on the very mound.

The people of the place are very enthusiastic about the outsiders and careful about the dignity of the place and I think they are also protecting the place, which has been left out without any official protection.

The beauty of the place is awesome. We reached there in the late afternoon.

With the slanting rays of the sun illuminating the whole landscape with mysterious historical feeling, we went round it and found the natural beauty simply awesome.

On the western side, we found a mysterious small pond beyond which lay the golden reward of nature stretched to the horizon.

There are two ponds—one small on the western side and the other big one on the southern side. I think this pond is one of the instances of the old Bengali ways of solving the problem of water by preserving surface water in the rainy season. In fact, one can find a very big pond, Sarashanka, believed to be dug up by Shashanko, the king of Bengal, seven or eight km from this place. The belief is strengthened by the huge size of the water body, which is in need of preservation. This pond (in picture) below is fresh and the water is used by the local people.

Greenery is abundantly there endowing the place with soft tender mood.

Finally, the calm of the place may help you to hear many footsteps of the past like ours of the present that trod around the place.

Update 1: Annexure-II

On 6th March, Director Goutam Ghosh came to Monoharpur to shoot the Moghalmari Buddhist site. He is making a documentary on the area. The site is now filled up, yet I think they came to shoot the surrounding areas which once contributed to the making of Buddhist culture here. I talked to the principal investigator Dr. Ashok Datta, of CU. He told me that another site has been marked out which promises to turn out to be a Buddhist monastery. According to him and his team, many a Buddhist monastery was built along the bank of the river Subarnarekha. He has published a book on the entire excavation:

Excavation at Moghalmari (2003-4 to 2007-08), Ashok Datta, Asiatic Society, Rs. 1200/

Last Picture Clockwise: Me, Goutam Ghosh, Dr. Ashok Dutta

[How to reach: From Kolkata or other place to Kharagpur. From Kharagpur bus-stand (taxi-stand) towards Sonakonia-Dantan route, get down at Monoharpur. From there you can go on foot.]

1 comment:

doyel said...

this is nice to see moghalmari pictures because i was also part of the excavation and i also feel proud for my guide dr asok dutta under whose supervision the excavation took place .i visited the site twice and hope to visit it again

doyel banerjee
research schoar,dept of archaeology