'We will excavate the site in the next dry season'
A team of the archaeology department has arrived in Moulvibazar for a three-day visit looking to unearth remnants of an ancient university dating back to the Chandra dynasty of the 10th century (900-1050AD).
A five-member team on Saturday arrived at Kalimabad of Kulaura upazila—once known as Chandrapur, which now lies beneath the ground.
Finding the location engraved in the historic Bhatera copperplate discovered in 1872, the delegation began inspecting the site in the Rajar Tila area of Bhatera union and found ancient artifacts such as pieces of bricks, stones and pots, presumably used around a thousand years ago.
The team is led by Regional Director of the Department of Archaeology, Dr Ataur Rahman.
“The hill was preserved during British times and still stands as a historical monument. We have found evidence of historical relics used by ancient kings. However, these priceless artifacts are at risk of being compromised by hill cutting in the area,” said Dr Ataur Rahman.
“We will excavate the site in the next dry season,” he added.
Mahmud Ali Chowdhury Tariq, a teacher of Bhatera School and College, said the search for antiquities and field surveys are intriguing locals. “Everyone thinks there are many historical monuments of ancient kings in this area and it is possible to find millennium-old ruins here, if excavated.”
A preliminary field survey has been conducted at the sites in Chandrapur of Srihatta (present day Sylhet division) on Sunday, according to the Department of Archaeology.
In ancient times, kings used to engrave royal proclamations, edicts and such, on copper plates. The Bhatera copperplate is one of two such historic artifacts discovered at Bhatera’s Rajar Tila in 1872. Historians consider these two to be from the 11th to 12th centuries.
Between 1912 and 1925, six other copper plates were discovered at Nidhanpur in Beanibazar upazila of Sylhet, carved in the seventh century.
Ancient Bengal was a land of knowledge where institutional education flourished through vihara (monastery), mahavihara (monastic complex of viharas) and matha (cloister, institute or college). Thousand-year-old heritages like Nalanda, Shalban, Somapura, Vikramshila, Jagaddala and many others, stand tall as a testament to our glorious past.
These ancient institutions of higher learning, laid the foundation for what later came to be known as universities.
Srihatta (present day Sylhet division) is home to such an institution, which is older than Jagaddala and as disciplined as Nalanda, and it was built in the early 10th century, according to historians.
King Srichandra of the Chandra dynasty of South-eastern Bengal patronised constructing nine mathas at Chandrapur of Srihatta.
Details of these mathas were inscribed in a copper plate grant (historical legal records engraved on copper plates) found in Paschimbhag of Rajnagar upazila in Moulvibazar in 1958, which was later decoded and translated.