Recent excavations by the Kolkata Circle of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have come up with startling facts. Archeologists are now reconstructing the whole history dating from the Pre-Mauryan period to the Muslim period, with clear evidences of Mauryan, Sunga, Kushana, Gupta, post-Gupta and the Pala periods.
Recent evidences of pottery of black and red ware, copper objects, wattle and daub houses, hearth etc. found in the excavation this year have pointed that the site can be associated with ancient period. So far there have been no evidence of any site dating to such an old era in North Bengal, prior to this excavation.
“It is one of the most important early sites in North Bengal. References about the site are made in various inscription found from nearby areas. According to an inscription of the Gupta period, this city was a ‘Vishaya’ province under the Guptas. It has evidences of an ancient city with a citadel area. In my view, if the site is explored, it can come up with certain elements of an earlier level,” ASI Director (Excavation & Exploration) Subhra Pramanik, told The Indian Express after visiting the site.
A team of archeologists of the Kolkata Circle have been meticulously excavating the site since December 2009. The excavations reveal all the structural details of an early historical city. A huge moat encircles the entire fortified area which overlooks the town.
During excavations this year and last year, archeologists have discovered seven bastions towards the north-eastern side. There is the possibility of a gateway joining the citadel area with the town.
Evidence has been found of the moat being connected to a tank and the tank being connected to the nearby river Punarbhabha. Thre is an elaborate drainage system as well as a water supply system, providing evidence of unique town. The citadel area of the mound is about 8 meters higher than rest of the township. Archeologists have found evidences in extensive habitation areas towards the north and east of the fortification.
According to archeologists, Bangarh was spread over 1,200 acres and had thrown up a rich historical past after excavation at the site located on the banks of the Punarbhaba. An area of about 141 acre is the main mound or the citadel area, parts of which have been exposed in the excavations.
The city of Bangarh was anciently known as Kotivarsa and Devikota. This city and its ruins have been witness to various eras of history. Starting from the pre-Mauryan times, there are references to Mauryan, Sunga, Kushana, Gupta, post-Gupta and the Pala period related to it.
Hundreds of artifacts have been unearthed in the last two years of excavations. Ancient coins, stone idols, seals, pieces of pottery and utensils, and ornaments have been collected from the site. The Pala period references date from the 7th century AD to the 9th century AD.
For instance, a terracotta plaque bearing an Archer was found during excavations in February this year. Similarly, a sculpture of basalt bearing the head of Buddha and crude sprinklers used in Buddhist monastic sites have also been found.
A miniature boat depicting trade relations, according to archeologists, can be contemporary to the Mauryan period. Archeologists say that excavated artifacts from the site also reveal the secular nature of the site, with artifacts ranging from Shaivite forms of Hinduism, heads of Buddha and even some artifacts pertaining to Jainism. The site of Bangarh first came to the notice of K. G. Goswami of the University of Calcutta in 1937, who excavated a temple complex of the Pala period. However after this, the site did not get much attention.
The huge mound of over 140 acres and nearly 1,000 acre area in the vicinity came to the special attention of T. J.Baidya, Superintending Archaeologist of ASI’s Kolkata Circle in 2009. He excavated it for two years and unearthed facts about various strata of history from the ruins.