|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 10, Tuesday, March 9, 2010|
IN the ancient times, Bikrampur was undoubtedly an important political centre in the history of Bengal. The capital city of the Chandra, Barman, Sen Rulers from the beginning of the 10th century AD to the beginning of the 13th century AD, the name of Bikrampur survived as a pargana during the Mughal period. Its previous names were Rajnagar and Baikunthapur. While the name officially no longer exists, its inhabitants of a vast tract of land in the Munshiganj district still feel pride in saying that they belong to Bikrampur, which of course emanates from the past glory of the area.
I have long wanted to visit the city of Bikrampur and I finally got the opportunity to realise my desire along with my son Tamim and photographer Hasan Saifuddin Chandan. I started towards Bikrampur one cloudy morning. As we proceeded towards our destination, we crossed the Dhaleswari River. The bridge was old but architecturally striking. From the river the view was fantastic. The passing boats were full of cargo and the scenery was extravagant. As we entered Bikrampur a lush green atmosphere surrounded us. To think that this green, serene paradise is just a 40 minutes drive away from the chaos of Dhaka city.
The site of the ancient city is not far from the modern town of Munshiganj. To the north is the Ichhamati river, where still stand the remains of a very high parapet running east to west, parallel with the ancient course of the river. To the east is the ancient stream of the Brahmaputra. There are two wide moats, one in the west and one in the south, which in present times are known respectively as the Mirkadim Canal and the Makuhati Canal.
Our main motive behind visiting this place was to acquire knowledge about the architecture of this ancient city. The citizens of this area take pride in their cultural wealth and their glorious past. They have been staying in beautiful village houses for a long time. As we explored, we discovered gardens, terraces, windows and doors of these wonderful two-storey houses. They use sheets of tin and wooden panels to build the above mentioned. Alongside these tin houses there are a few traditional mud built houses. We visited a few of these villagers and had a peek through their homes. We were amazed to see the motifs on the stepped roofs of the houses. The doors and the windows of the houses were made of wood. They have their own style and design. Every house possesses a beautiful courtyard, framed by trees.
Natural scenery, temples, mosques, old bridges and houses intermingle with a poignant historical beauty here. The whole area yielded highly valuable antiquities, sculptures of exquisite quality and objects of precious metals. A silver Vishnu image from this area (Churain) is now preserved in the Indian Museum. An eleventh century divine nymph (Surasundari) hewn out of a long wooden pillar that forms a part of a column is now preserved in the Bangladesh National Museum and is considered to be an unique find in the whole subcontinent. Bikrampur is a city that maintains a traditional spirit, a city of cultural richness with many theatre groups, jatra parties and fabulous food items.
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