Discovery of a Buddhist Monastery at Moghalmari, Paschim Medinipur

Sreecheta Mukherjee

Moghalmari, a non-descript village on the south-west border of West Medinipur and West Bengal, has been recently brought to light as a vast archaeological site of early medieval Buddhist settlement having a gigantic Buddhist monastery, most likely of a pre-Pala era by the Department of Archaeology, Calcutta University, under the supervision of Dr. Asok Datta. However, the archaeological importance of the area of Dantan, which became a forgotten remnant of a (Danda) ‘bhukti’ and ‘mandala’ from the early medieval period, was earlier understood by the British historians and by Nagendranath Basu. One such British surveyor H. L. Harrison reported in 1873:

“On the occasion of excavating earth to get out bricks and stones for the use of Rajghat Road under construction several magnificent remains of the old buildings have been discovered at Satdeula and Moghalmari, and bricks and stones, it is estimated have been dug out, numbering about 26 lakhs, and some crores yet lie buried under the ground.”

When Nagendra Nath Basu made a survey of the region, he found traces of ancient remains at Dantan:

“By the side of the entrance into Mughalmari from the side of Dantan is a mound generally called Pathcala of Sashisena. Completely lost in ruins now, it was at one time a big structure of oblong shape, measuring 120 ft from east to west and 110 from north to south. Hidden under its debris, and scattered all around are to be found heaps of large bricks; and elderly natives assert that formerly a much larger quantity of this material was lying about in the heaps which the people of the adjacent villages have since utilized for their private purposes. Even now over and along the road, half a mile in length, which runs from the gada of Shokhisena to the ruins of the palace of Vikramajit in the heart of the village are to be found remnants of brick-built structures.”

Locally some people of Dantan were also aware of the archaeological importance of this place. One such exceptional person Sri Lalit Mohan Samanta wrote in an application seeking help from the governments (copy forwarded to the curator of Asutosh Museum, dated 21/03/1958):

“Considering its antiquity and past glorious history from the Buddhist era to Hindu and Mohamadan period few well-wishers of Dantan felt the importance of its past historical study as well as the research work of its old relics, records and ruins…”.

After this, the place seems to have been quite forgotten and nothing was done to uncover the history of this place. However, the “Dantapur Museum” remained attached to the library and most of the artefacts collected by Sri Samanta are still there though in a bit neglected condition. Access the Full Text Article>>