Written by Dr. Tilak Purakayastha
A strange and highly neglected historical place is ‘Devagram’ (or ‘Devla’), which can be easily described as a living archa. There is no difficulty in reaching Devla located on the banks of Ranganhat and Chakdah. However, we don’t know why Devgram is not mentioned in any news paper yet! The pale idol and ‘jal-pradip’ of Pal kingdom, household items of the Sen kingdom, the Sultanate pot or ‘hunko’ buds, pot-pitcher, etc. In the areas of Nalpukur, Pond Para, Bail Para, etc., there is a parallel pattern of civilization of four generations under the soil. It is quite unbelieveable that strange thing if it’s unseen. Especially when rainwater washed off the soil in the rainy season, the fragments of these potteries came out in such a way as if they were whispering, how long they would keep them in the dark, they are requesting to take them in the light! But we walk in silence on the road.
The first written evidence of this Devagram archive is found in the journal ‘Samachar Darpan’ – December 26, 1818/1225 in Bangabda (bong year). It has been written that “There is a ‘ganja’ (village), aprox 4 miles north-east from ‘Chakradah’ (Chakdah), named Degram. There is a large bowl. Their area is very large, almost one square mile and four clay soils in the form of four mountains. There are two large ponds. There are erect and stone in the soil.”
That is, we know that in 1818, this palace was abolished 200 years ago. Even though in spite of extinct, the issue of happiness is that has not yet been completely abolished. The villagers have guided us all around. It is forbidden that this large bowl is the palace of the historic Deoli king, around which 15/20 feet earth decks and 30/40 feet wide trench are still in many places. Only the ground dome is still standing, whose height is at least 50 / 60 feet. Many villagers used to wake up at this dome in their childhood, and in their words – around 5 miles was seen by them.
After this, in the 1896 publication of the “List of Ancient Monuments in Bengal” page on page 118 – “Outside the fort are the ruins of many big temples which appear to be of great interest and some ancientity, as evidenced by the size of bricks They are the only undoubtedly pre-Muhammadan ruins seen or heart in the district.” I request you to see the huge ‘Makda’ stone block and the very strong stack blocks that mix the white sand and natural lime of the river. Many such blocks are there in the house of the villagers.
The archive of the Devagram is mainly located in two places. The main part is under the control of the Ganganpur Forest Department and the rest is owned by the people of the area. The evidence of the stratification of four civilizations under the main soil is very well understood. The lowest level is in the Pala era and predecessorsof them. Above that is Sena period, after that it’s Sultanate era, and all of them were covered with a forest ecosystem, that is, when this abandoned place covered the dense forest. Already said that the lowest level is probably the predecessors of Pala and Pala Era patterns Approximate 800-1000 AD or maybe even as old as Gupta period.
The farmers of Devagram, the common people, cannot understand, what they will do with these things coming out of soil or pond during cultivation and fishing. You will be surprised hearing that the villagers themselves have made an archaeological archive with the initiative. Former post-employee Shri Chitabh Biswas has donated his house. Owner of the local nursery, Mr. Ansh Haldar gave the Furniture, electronic equipment etc. A group of vibrant young man joined them. Dr. Biswajit Roy, Sanjay Bhowmik, Anirban Bose, Devjith Biswas etc. The entire Devgram have been thronging with encouragement, enthusiasm to save these historic resources. But if the archaeological authorities and experts do not come forward, is it possible to save?
The name of this Museum is “Debalagar Debal King Archaeological and Cultural Association”, situated in Debagram, Ganganapur, Nadia. “See Pala dynasties, ‘jal-pradip’ (water-lamps), and ‘Dhupdani’. The specialty of this water-lamp is that it was the size of a plam of a hand, there would be another small chamber under the lamps. And there was a small hole in it. The cell was flooded with this hole, the lighted lamps were used while worshiping the Buddha. It was seen in ‘Bajrajani’ ideology of Pal era.
Among the archaeological objects of the Pala period, found in the Banmalipara of the Chakdah thana, a beautiful ‘Bajrajani Tara’ statue made of stone, which is now being worshiped as Hindu goddess. The ‘Bajrajani Tara’ statue is so beautiful to divert attention. The bronze made statue of the Buddha has also been found in Devagram. During the Pal kingdom, they lead it to significant social development. In particular, contribution of the Pal kings to the promotion of social education is established. Vikramshila, Paharpur Mahavihar is established. North Bengal poet Sandhakar Nandi wrote his extraordinary work ‘Ramchiricham’. But after the Rampal (1082-1124 AD) gradually the sun of the Pala empire started to gine down and the northern kingdom was captured by the chief of ‘Kaivartas’, Divya. Vijay Sena (1096-1159), grandson of Brahmin Samanta Sen created a era of the Sena dynasty’s Bengal kingdom.
Earlier it has been said that the archaeological sites derived from the lowest layers of the devolved civilization of Deogram are the Gupta era and the Pala period. The archaeological sites at the top of it are those of the Sena era. The sources of the Sena era have also included numerous potteries – as well as several wonderful water-lamps and handmade lamps, numerous ink-pots, flowers, part of the statues, and a large number of daily used hosrhold items.
An apocal black coloured ink-pot is found which the beautifully designed on it. The Dohat (ink-pot) has a fence with a furrowed piece of clay which has a few holes. If needed, the ink-pot could be hanged on the hand being tied. Some clay-made ornaments have been found, i.e., beads, pendants, earrings, etc.
The pottery obtained in the Sena period is usually colored black or matt red. The pottery obtained from the Pal era is almost red. The difference in the color shows that the Pal dynasty was made from the relatively superior ‘Poli Mati’. A well designed, stupendous large tray found in the reserved forest of Debagram. Probably the tail part of the tray was used to hold it and the rest was to keep fire in it.
There also pots of brass and bronze and three beautiful Vishnu statues were also found. The most damaged statue is kept in the custody of the Ganganpur Police Station. This statue is made of black stone, and about 6 feet in length, subdued on left shoulder, the head of the statue is broken. Two small statues are placed in the down side. One of the idols are kept in the local temple and worship.
The most beautiful statue of the time of the Sen era seems to be that of ‘TriVikram Rupi Samapadak Vishnu Murti’ (the statue of God Vishnu). ‘Gada’ in the back right hand, Chakra in the back left hand. Lotus in the front right hand, and conch in the left hand. There are two ‘Gandharv’ with flower necklace in hand. There in the bottom left is probably the ‘Bhudevi’ and in the right is “vrigu’. Some people also said that they are in the bottom of the statue are Kamadeva (cupid) and Devi.
The image of this statue is similar to Chakulya and Halsala style of the Deccan. It is unforgettable that the Sen resides in the beginning of the Karnataki Brahmin.
I guess, the Karnatak based Brahmin, Sens started neglecting the Boudha township of Pal era. Many of the deities of Sens’ time were found in Devla pond and nearby ponds. Among them there are huge ‘Makda’ stone, parts of highly rigid works of ‘stacko’, lots of broken brick pieces and lots of bricks of different sizes. There are huge but narrow bricks. Found (18 “to 24”) they probably could be useful to create a roof of the house. Firelight stones were also found there. Probably, they would have used it to build a house or temple floor because it is flexible and easily could have been cut in different sizes.
The surroundings of Debalagar surrounded with the clay walls and there were four high domes in the four corners, among which there is a broken dome still standing. I think that the possibility of the attack of the Muslim sultans was increasing at the end of the Sena Dynasty, then this decker was surrounded the Debalagar palace, Devla pond etc. and the domes were made. The dome were actually the Watch Towers. The ruins of the dome still standing there, is 50/60 feet high of its damaged mound. Imagine how tall it was 1000 years ago. If you go here, you can see the similarity with the ‘Blood Soil Bihara’ or ‘Bangar’ with the part of the protected forest of Ganganpur.
Ballal Sen,The son of Vijay Sen, was undoubtedly a scholar. The creation of ‘Dansagar’ and ‘Advutsagar’ is its proof. But he also started the hardening tradition(Koulibya Pratha) of Hindu society in order to strengthen the hands of the Brahmins and he sowed the seeds of division among the society, which later helped in the way of Muslim rule enhancement in Bengal. The Hindu girls’ lives had ended in this harsh legality, in literature,
there are many specimens of this truth in Indira Thakrun in ‘Pathar Panchali’ or
of Srikanta’ ‘Rajlaksmi’ , in Bibhutibhusan’s ‘Pathar Panchali’ he gave the name of a paragraph – ‘Ballalali Balai’. The copperplates were discovered in Anuliya of Debagram during the time of Ballal Sen’s son Laksman Sen. Laxman Sen was also the patron of Art and literature. In His Rajshava the writer of Gitegobinda, Jaydev and the writer of ‘Pawan doot’, Dhoyi poet.
Bakhtiyar Khilji (1204-1255) started the Muslim or Sultanate era through the attack of Nadia. They looted a lot of wealth by plundering, looting and destroying, making many people mortgages, Bakhtiyar Khilji further proceeded to the nort-hwest. These dengerous description(Written in 1260)was in ‘Tabhak-i-Nasiri’ of ‘Minhaj-us-Siraj’.
Talking with The local people,I came to know that they firmly believed – Devapala was the name of the local ruler, and his capital was Devagram or Deola. In the conflict with th Muslim sovereign, the prosperous poplar Devla was destroyed with this royal palace. In Bharatchandra’s “Annada Mangal”, It is written that Devapala collapsed in the wrath of Goddess Annapurna. On The ruins of the Sen Era created and ruled the kingdom of the Sultana. In this civilization from the top layer, founded archeological things are much larger than the previous era.The pots made in this era are mainly large mouth pots, desk, high edged dish etc. From there ‘hukko’, ‘Surapatra’ etc. were founded., the characteristics of this era pot is that they are predominantly black. This black color is due to fire in the wood. Some are Equipped with beautiful design, and some are too smooth. The inside of the each pot was smooth with a layer,and according to the archeologist this layer was made of black soil,lime,”hunt” ,egg yolk and sunflower oil. After firing the pots,the layer was being given to these.
Another notable achievement in the Sultanate era from the Deogram Museum is the silver coin of 653 AH or 1255 AD and the copper coins of emperor Shah Alam, printed in 1237 AH. After this, the upper layer should have been in the period of the company or the British era. But it was not. Perhaps the entire part is abandoned due to a horrible flood or epidemics. The area was covered by a dense forest ecosystem. In this abandoned place, there were numerous large valleys, where the tiger, deer, etc. of the Sundarbans went on. The fossils of The teeths of the Tigers and horns of deer give the proves of truthfulness of my words.
Dr. Biswajit Ray has created a catalog, which you will find in the Devgram Museum, on the collection from the entire Deorgram and the adjoining archaeological sites. But those who are trying their best to save the Devgram are not archaeological experts. Ignorant, and with very small knowledge about iconography, with their own money, left their jobs, they operate museums, catalogs, video and make steel photogharps, museums registration, all are going in hoping that one day in Devagram there will begin the activities like of Bangaram, Chandraketugarh, and red soil of Bihar. Although Many times, Various applications, submissions and requests, no authority had come until today.
However, we are glad that recently a group of high officials of Asiatic Society have visited Devagram. The way jcb Machines are being excavating the paddy fields
and Ponds, 100 days of work- Unnaturally cutting the soil, this historic land with be destroyed by the fragmented civilization. It is very soon the existence of Debagarm will be destroyed.It will not be late.
You see, feel, think – Will Debagram only be a forgotten history of an extinct settlement?
1.Ancient Monuments in Bengal, 1896, Public Works Department, printed in Bengal, Secretariat Press.
- Buddhist goddess, Sri Binoy Bhushan Chowdhury.
3.Paschim Bangya (in Bengali), Nadia Zila Sankhya 1997 (1404 bangabdo), Information and Cultural Department, Govt.of WB.
- KANDE MARALI KANDE JAMUNA, by Sri Sunil Chandra Das, Lighucha Prakanani, Netaji Park, Chakdah, Nadia.
- Nadia-Kahini, Kumudanath Mallik. Mohit Roy edited.
Photo: – See catalogs for detailed viewing.
Photo courtesy : Dr. Tilak Purakayastha
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