In a remote hamlet of the district West Midnapore in West Bengal, excavation for the last decade has revealed a remarkable story of early-medieval Buddhist establishment, possibly a monastery during the 6th CE.
Moghalmari is a village in the West Bengal – Odisha border that recently drew a lot of attention for the continuous findings that dates back to similar monasteries comparable to the likes of Vikramshila, Nalanda, Paharpur, Mainamati, etc. These were the hub of Buddhist settlement in India and continued to remain so even around 9th/ 10th CE.
Previously known as the ‘Sakhisena Dhipi’ or ‘Sakhisena Mound’ in the registers of the country, the findings of the Calcutta University Archaeology professor Dr Asok Datta gradually found enough evidences to justify its relevance to Buddhism. It is believed that the monastery has gone through a number destruction and plundering from time to time. This also probably supports a theory that the place has gone through several phases of construction and renovation before it was finally crumbled by the plunderers.
The otherwise non-descript village during the last half of January 2016 saw a lot of excitement as around 40 bronze artefacts, dating back to fifth and sixth centuries, tumbled out of the earth, as the state archaeology department re-launched the excavation of the Buddhist monastery after a gap of two years. As a bronze Buddha statuette, measuring 7cm X 6cm, first surfaced in the middle trench of the site, several more statues of varying sizes started showing up. Monks from across the country, who have converged on Moghalmari for special prayers and seminars at a festival that coincided with the excavation believes that these place could be a site of early Buddhist settlement in India.
Now, the State Government of West Bengal has started taking the apt measures to conserve the excavation site and development of the nearby lake called Sarasanka to push Buddhist tourism in the future. The museum in the site that is privately maintained by a local club also needs attention if mass tourism is a projected plan.
The locales of this earthly village nestled by the banks of the river Subarnarekha promises to offer facts and chronicles of the past that can make one ponder.