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Sunday, 26 February 2012

Chandraketugarh : May be The Ancient Port City of Bengal ?

 is an archaeological site located beside the Bidyadhari river, about 35 km north-east of Kolkata, India, in the district of North 24 parganas, near the township of Berachampa and the Haroa Road railhead.
Years of excavation have revealed relics of several historical periods, although the chronological classification of the relics remains incomplete.

Google Map Arial View of Chandraketugarh

Finds include Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW) relics, later wares dated from about 400 BC to 100 BC and approximately contemporary with the Maurya period, as well as artifacts from the more recent Kushanas and Gupta periods.
Tourist Board of Chandraketugarh

According to some historians, the Chandraketugarh site and surrounding area could be the place known to ancient Greek and Roman writers as 'Gangaridai.

Chandraketugarh is located in the district of 24 Parganas, only 38 Km north-east of Calcutta (Kolkata) in West Bengal, India. It falls under the Police Station of Deganga and covers the localities such as Berachampa, Deulia (Debalaya), Singer Ati, Shanpukur, Hadipur, Jhikra, Ranakhola, Ghorapota, Dhanpota, Chuprijhara, Mathbari, and Ghaziatala. A seven mile long and one mile wide stretch south of Berachampa is archaeologically the most significant.
Google Map Arial View of  Road from Calcutta to Chandraketugarh 
A port-city?
Chandraketugarh is located in the dynamic alluvial delta of the mighty Ganges, where the rivers continuously change their courses. In general, due to new land formation, the well-known ancient coastal towns are now found far inside the mainland. It is therefore difficult to obtain any hard facts regarding the geography of ancient Chandraketugarh. Although not adjacent to any major navigable sea-bound water channel at present, Chandraketugarh lies only ten kilometers north of the dying stream of Vidyadhari river. Vidyadhari once used to be a strong navigable river opening up to the Adi Ganga, the ancient course of the Ganges. Through this route, the Chandraketugarh site probably had easy access to the sea.
Vidyadhari river beside Chandaketugarh
A depiction of the immediate surrounding of Chandraketugarh with the Vidyadhari river can be found in this map (in Bengali), courtesy: Dilip Maite.

The Archaeological significance of the Chandraketugarh area came to the attention in the early years of the last century when road-building activities exposed a brick structre. A. H. Longhurst first visited the site in 1907 on the urging of Tarak Nath Ghosh, a local resident. Despite the recovery of a large volume of bricks and potteries, Longhurst, unfortunatley, reported that "the ruins were of little or no interest". Rakhaldas Bandopadhyay (of Mohen-Jo-Daro fame) visited the site in 1909 and collected some artifacts. K. N. Dikshit, Superintendent of the Eastern Circle of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), first published a report on the site in 1922-23. Kalidas Dutt, a well-known author of the archaeology of the lower Bengal, inspired Deva Prasad Ghosh, Kalyan Kumar Ganguly, and Kunja Govinda Goswami to take notice of this site. It was due to their persuation that the site was excavated by the Asutosh Museum of the Indian Art of the Calcutta University through 1955 to 1967. Their reports were published in the annual ASI Reviews. Finally, in 2000, there was a minor excavation at the site by ASI under Bimal Banerjee; however this effort has come to an abrupt stop (I do not know why).

There are two formidable difficulties facing the scholars studying Chandraketugarh. First, the relatively small scale of excavation at Chandraketugarh (by Asutosh Museum) is not sufficient for a comprehensive understanding of the society and culture of such an extensive site. Except for last year's short-lived excavation, we do not know if ASI, under whose custody the site is presently preserved, ever planned or executed any excavation since Asutosh Museum suspended theirs in 1967. Second, no detailed report on Chandraketugarh has ever been published by the scholars involved in the excavation of the site. All we have are the annual articles of the ASI Review, which, though they are indeed very useful, do not have the scope to present an assimilative view of several years of exploration. We probably will never have such a report written by one of the original excavators.

The history of Chandraketugarh dates back to almost the 3rd Century B.C., during the pre-Mauryan era. Artifacts suggest that the site was continuously inhabited and flourished through the Sunga-Kushana period, then the Gupta period and finally the Pala-Sena period. From all indications Chandraketugarh was an important urban center, and most probably a port city. It had a high encircled wall with a rampart and a moat. The people were engaged in various crafts and mercantile activities. Although the religious inclinations of the people are unclear, hints of the beginning of some future cults can be traced in the artifacts. Some of the potteries carry inscriptions in Kharoshthi and Brahmi scripts.
Due to the inconsistencies in the ASI Review reports and lack of crucial data it is extremely difficult to draw a comprehensive and reliable stratigraphical picture of the site. Enamul Haque has presented an occupational sequence by studying the ASI Review reports and allowing for marginal adjustments. Let me reproduce it:

Earthen-pottery of Chadraketugarh
Period I 
Pre-Maurya, 600-300 B.C.
Period II 
Maurya, 300-200 B.C.
Period III 
Sunga, 200 B.C. - 50 A.D.
Period IV 
Kushan, 50-300 A.D.
Period V 
Gupta, 300-500 A.D.
Period VI 
Post-Gupta, 500-750 A.D.
Period VII 
Pala-Chandra-Sena, 750-1250 A.D.
Chandraketugarh excels in the beauty of its terracotta art. Even a cursory glance at one of its hundreds of terracotta plaques will astonish the viewer with its elegance and unusual precision of craftsmanship. For their artistic values these plaques are easily comparable to, if not surpassing, those found from relatively better known sites such as Kaushambi and Ahichhatra. In fact, terracotta plaques from these sites often carry similar motifs executed in nearly identical fashion. This points to an established communication link and common cultural heritage among these sites.
A large number of silver punch-marked coins and a few gold coins have been unearthed from Chandraketugarh. A gold coin of Chandragupta-Kumardevi deserves special mention. A large number of semi-precious stone beads, materials of ivory and bone were also unearthed from here. Even a few wooden objects of remarkable sculpting have survived.
Mr. Dilip Kumar Maite:
 is one of the earliest collectors of artifacts from the Chandraketugarh site. His collection, officially refered to as the Chandraketugarh Pratna Sangrahalaya, is located in his residential house, on the Taki Road only about 30 meters from the Berachampa's More. He pointed out the peculiarity of the site in that the ancient city is "still" buried under the ground and due to the lack of any permanently excavated area, visitors do not see anything memorable. Reflecting Asad-uj Jaman's sentiment, he mentioned that a local museum is much needed for proper collection and preservation of the artifacts, as well as for the awareness of the public. With a bitter smile, he however let it out that his efforts towards this goal for the last few decades haven't met with any success, largely due to organizational apathy.
Mr. Asad-uj Jaman's 
resident-cum-museum is situated a few kilometers away from the Taki Road closer to the Chandraketugarh ramparts. From the ramparts, a narrow unmetalled road winds through green ricefields(a joy for the eyes!) -- keep right -- and under the shades of fragrant mango trees towards a local school. Once you are near the school, anyone can point you to Asad-uj Jaman's house.

Asad-uj Jaman confirmed that artifacts are still being unearthed in the nearby areas whenever the soil is dug to build a house or a pond. He agreed with Dilip Kumar Maite in the necessity of a local museum. He also mentioned that there is no mechanism in place to properly study and understand the artifacts currently discovered. "If an artifact carrying some ancient written characters is uncovered, it's not easy to get it read", he said.

My Observation and Conclusion:
After detail studying atrifacts pictures form Chandraketugarh I found some very strange similarities with atrifacts found in Indus Valley Civilization which are given below:-

1) Similar construction work found between "Indus Valley Bath" and "Khana-Mihirer Dhipi" found in Chandraketugarh.
Great Bath Of Indus Valley
2) Various Terracotta (Burned-Baked-Earthen Idol) figurines find both from Harappa and Chandraketugarh, Besides some of Terracotta figures were already presumed to be artwork of Maurya, Sunga, Kushan,Gupta period respectively. It  may be possible some terracotta figures waiting for their discovery.
Animal Seal of Indus similar with Two bird circular Seal of Chandraketugarh
3) Till today this heritage site not fully excavated . Nobel Lauriette Economist Dr Amartya Sen Think that Chandraketugarh not mere a small site but whole new Civilization can possibly found after detailed excavation.

4) Professor of Havard University Dr Sugata Bose even think that Chandraketugarh civilization may much older than Pre-Maurya Era. History of Bengal may rewritten after full excavation of the site.

5) The Chandraketugarh site and surrounding area could be the place known to ancient Greek and Roman writers as 'Gangaridai.

6) It May be possible, that after the great flood in Indus Valley civilization (Which may be the main cause of destruction of Indus civilization), post vedic civilization may shifted its base toward this part of the India (Anga, Banga , Kalinga area:modern Bengal, Orrisa and Bihar).

Earthen- Plate-Harappa.
7) Very  similar earthen Seal (Seal of two bird in Chandraketugarh) and earthen Pottery found in both Indus Valley and Chandraketugarh.
Red Earthen Pottery Of Indus-Valley
8) After the death of Saraswati river during post Vedic era Ganga was the main river . Bidyadhari River and Chandarketugarh may be the important dock of ancient India which may retold its history after full excavation.
9) Probable Different periods of Ancient India :
Vedic Age -------> Indus and Harappan Age -----> Age of Mahabharata -------> Age of Sodros (16)-Maha-Janapad ( Ancient India Divided into 16 major ancient City) --------> Nanda-Period-------> Kautilya and Chandragupta Mourya Period--------> Greek Invasion by Alexzander the great----------> King Ashoka period ---------> Sunga Dynasty ---------> Kushan Dynasty --------------> Gupta Period

Website Source and Photo From :  and  Ambarish Goswami (Special Thanks for His Valuable Photos).

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