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Mythological love unearthed
- Experts dig up chamber used by King Bana to hide his daughter

Tezpur, Feb. 9: A secret chamber probably built by an Assam king to hide his lovelorn daughter from Krishna’s grandson has been dug up by archaeologists near Tezpur.

The find, experts are saying, could be a confirmation of the legendary love story of Aniruddha, Krishna’s grandson, and princess Usha, daughter of King Bana.

The underground chamber is part of a temple, ruins of which were discovered recently at Torajan Kumargaon, 4km from here.

Then called Sonitpur, Tezpur is littered with remnants of architecture dating back to King Bana’s time.

“We are more or less confirmed that the temple was built by King Bana. The underground chamber in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is the interesting part and could have been built by the king to hide his love-struck daughter,” said Bimal Sinha, assistant director in the Archaeological Survey of India. Sinha is supervising the excavation being carried out by over 30 skilled workers.

“We will need another 30-35 days to unearth the sanctum sanctorum completely and then go for the secret chamber,” he added.

Bimal Sinha revealed that different sizes of bricks were used to build the temple and sticky mud was used to cement the bricks. Besides the brick structure, other items found at the site include stone beads.

Though there are many legends associated with King Bana, the most enduring one is the affair between his only daughter Usha and prince Aniruddha.

King Bana had kept Usha in a fortress surrounded by moats of fire, hence called Agnigarh, the remains of which are still found in and around Tezpur.

The king was afraid that the princess might choose someone he would not approve of.

Usha dreamt of Aniruddha without even meeting him and fell in love with him. Usha’s closest friend Chitralekha — an expert painter — made portraits based on the princess’s description of her lover and finally succeeded in painting the picture of Aniruddha.

Through her magical powers, Chitralekha managed to bring Aniruddha to Agnigarh.

Usha and Aniruddha were secretly married but King Bana came to know about their liaison.

The angry king threw Aniruddha into prison and Usha into a secret hideout.

When Krishna heard about his grandson’s imprisonment, he attacked Bana and defeated the king.

There are references to King Bana in the Gita and modern historians believe that the story of Usha and Aniruddha is true apart from a few exaggerated parts.

Archaeological finds dating back to the 6th and 17th century and belonging to King Bana’s reign are still seen in several places like Singri Gupeswar temple, Mahabhairab temple Bhairabi temple, Rudrapath temple and some exquisite stone carvings found at Bamuni Hills, in and around Tezpur town.

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