The Bengal region has a rich and diverse past paved with the heritage of fallen dynasties and triumphant empires. Only lost ruins hidden beneath verdant growths and earthly mounds remain of the empires which once shone with incomparable lustre.
What is popularly referred to as north Bengal – the post-Partition remnant of the greater Barind region – has seen Buddhist and Hindu emperors and Muslim sultans use it as a gateway to the heart of Bengal. Over the years, archaeologists have excavated more and more sites, each unique yet eerily similar, adding to the mystique of the proud heritage of Bengal.
Recently, a team from the Department of Archaeology at Jahangirnagar University unearthed a temple complex which dates back around 1000 years ago. Originally a Buddhist temple from possibly the 9th century AD, it was appropriated as a Hindu temple within a few hundred years, and fell into obscurity around the 13th or 14th century AD. The site has a unique style of architecture and construction, one that has not been seen in the greater Bengal region, according to Prof Swadhin Sen, director of the excavation team.
The site is located on a mound in the village of Bishnupur, which lies a mere 12km away from Dinajpur city. The temples are estimated to have been constructed somewhere between the ninth and thirteenth century AD. The Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the University Grants Commission has been funding the dig for the past six months.
The excavation team consists of 15 students from the Department of Archaeology with 15 skilled diggers from the Mahasthangarh site and 30 local laborers.