THE STATE of West Bengal is renowned for its historical heritage, some dating to the era before the British colonial regime. History unfolds many mysteries and myths of the past. One such place of historical importance is Chandraketugarh, about 50 km from Kolkata, via Barasat, in the North 24 Parganas.
A civilization that flourished between 4th century BC and the 12th century AD, Chandraketugarh, comprises of the remains of a temple and a palace, which has been excavated from a mound. According to the Archaeological Survey of India, which carried out the excavation, the era was a prosperous one under the mythical emperor Chandraketu, spanning at least six eras, beginning from the pre-Mauryas and ending with the Palas.
The site of the remains of the palace, and the temple in Beramchapa, is named Khanamihirer Dhipi. Nothing much is left of the structure except for the thick walls and several flights of stairs but that has not taken away the grandeur of the palace or the temple. A sharp contrast of the old and the new has, however, set upon the place with modern day apartments around the site and cars speeding down the road beside the static remains of the age old civilization. Children of the vicinity jump up and down the walls and play amongst the ruins; few adults gather there to gamble over the game of cards and tourists walk about with a feeling of awe witnessing archaeological skills of the ancient primitive era.
The remains of the once palatial structure have been declared a national property under the ’Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958’. Further 300 metres from the site have been declared prohibited for the purpose of both mining operation and construction. The discovery of kingdom of the bygone era was made following the excavation carried out by the Ashutosh Museum of the Calcutta University in 1956-1957 which revealed the cultural remains.
The most extraordinary unearthing has been the brick temple, endowed with architectural and decorative designs belonging to the Pala period. Buddha images and stupas, terracotta plaques and sealing, Jataka stories coins, different types of beads, were among the several other findings from the quarry. A dusty road from Baramchapa, which after some distance turns into a path flanked by green fields on either side, leads the way to Chandraketugarh.
by Samrat Roy