Heritage tag plea for South Dinajpur
The heritage society of South Dinajpur has written to the President to conserve places and buildings of historical significance that are found across the district.
Listing around 75 historical spots, the South Dinajpur Heritage Society has written to President Pranab Mukherjee and other dignitaries, including the Prime Minister, to declare South Dinajpur as a heritage district.
“The district has enough historical potential. In all eight blocks of the district there are places of historical interest. At Bangarh near Gangarampur, the Archaeological Survey of India has found relics of Pala, Gupta and Maurya dynasties. A shami tree, where the Pandavas are believed to have hidden their arms before going into exile, is at Harirampur,” said Samit Ghosh, a historian in Balurghat and the secretary of the South Dinajpur Heritage Society.
|Some sites of historical importance in and around Balurghat in South Dinajpur that feature on the list prepared by the heritage society. Some of the structures are over 300 years old|
|The kuthi or mansion is in Bangshihari, 70km from Balurghat. It is said that the building was constructed by John Thomas, who was in charge of an indigo plantation in the area, in 1793. William Kerry had come to the kuthi from Madanabati, now in Bangladesh, to teach Bengali. Local people claim that the wife of a teacher from the area was Bengal’s first sati||The building in Tapan, 30km from Balurghat, was constructed by Tarachand Bandyopadhyay from Sinni village of Katwa who set up his zamindari in the area just after the battle of Plassey, 1757. The construction cost of the building was Rs 64,000 at that time. The later generation of zamindars was known to be sympathetic towards the freedom fighters|
|The building of The Town Commercial Co-operate Bank Limited was set up in 1913. The bank was functional till the nationalisation of banks in India in the 1960s. The structure is in the heart of Balurghat town||About 8km from Balurghat, the temple was set up by Ramlal Ghosh, a zamindar from Burdwan, almost 300 years ago after he was driven out by the bargees |
(Maratha raiders). He founded his zamindari in Atoir and set up the temple. Local people believe that a sanyasi baba (an old ascetic) walks into the
temple every night to protect it and the village. Pictures by Santanu Ghosh
“The tomb of Bakhtiyar Khilji, who started Muslim rule in Bengal, is in Gangarampur. The terracotta temple of Poragachi, Vidyashawari temple of Patiram and the zamindar house of Manaholi are some of the other spots. That these historical buildings are not taken care of is very unfortunate,” Ghosh said.
“We had sent a list of 75 such places to the state heritage commission about two years ago. But the commission did nothing. That is why we have sent a letter to Pranab babu, who is a Bengali, seeking his intervention. We hope that the government declares South Dinajpur as a heritage district to avoid further neglect of history,” he added.
The letter was sent in May and Ghosh said a response was yet to come.
“The history of Bangarh dates back to before the Gupta and the Pala dynasties in mediaeval history of ancient Bengal. Research on Bangarh can unfold many unknown historical information. The shami tree is another tourist attraction, which badly needs attention from the government. Many people from other districts come here to see the tree mentioned in the Mahabharata. The famous Batun Mela, believed to be the birthplace of Sandhyakar Nandi, writer of the Ramacharitam, has been forgotten,” lamented Ghosh.
Tuhinsubhra Mandal, another history scholar in Balurghat, alleged neglect of another sort.
“During the digging of ponds under the NREGS (national rural job scheme), many antique idols of Lord Shiva and Vishnu have been found from various places. These pieces are being smuggled away,” he said.
“In the recent past, two museums were set up by the government, one in Balurghat and another in Bangarh, where some old idols are kept. But many others are lying in neglect. We are eagerly waiting for the President’s response,” said Mandal.