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Hunt for ancient stupa under teacher’s plot

Calcutta, Feb. 26: A schoolteacher’s plot in a Murshidabad village has yielded remains that archaeologists believe are of a pre-eighth century structure, possibly a stupa.

Excavators spent the last six days digging a 2,500sqm mound at the centre of Mohammed Qassem Ali’s four bigha plot at Deka-Bichkandi, in Kandi subdivision. The excavators believe what lies beneath could throw light on life before the Pala dynasty that controlled mainly what is now Bihar and Bengal from the 8th-12th Century.

“Qassem has been co-operative and is as excited as we are,” said Amal Roy, the superintendent of the state archaeology department team camping at Deka.

Residents of the area always regarded the mound as special. Some called it Deuliapar, others knew it as Haari Rajar Garh — named after a local hero who is said to have died fighting Mughal invaders.

The excavation has revealed a 6x6m section of a brick wall with decorative stucco of floral motifs, geometric patterns and beaded chain designs.

A fragment of a terracotta plaque dug out today showed legs of a kneeling figure. Parts of the forearms of the figure were found along with pieces of pottery and iron nails.

“We have uncovered seven lines of bricks to a depth of a metre. The bricks are larger and perhaps older than those in Jagjivanpur, an archaeological site nearby, and of various shapes. Moulded bricks, terracotta tiles and the plaque indicate these are from the pre-Pala period,” Roy said.

“There is an impressive brick structure underneath.... But we need more dateable evidence,” said Gautam Sengupta, the state director of archaeology and museums.

“This (the area) is in the Karna Suvarna region and is 2km from Panchstupi, or the village of five stupas. This could be one of the lost stupas. One stupa is Barkona Deul at Muniadihi in Murshidabad. It isn’t far from this site,” Roy said.

Work will continue at Deka-Bichkandi till the monsoon.

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