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Saturday, July 5, 2008
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Mathurapur Deul

Historic structure in desperate need of attention

Mathurapur Deul (left) demonstrates a unique architectural style, a view of a crumbling wall of the structure (right).Photo: STAR

Mathurapur Deul, a unique and historic landmark of Faridpur, is in dire need of attention. Although an archaeological wonder, the authorities have taken scant notice of the monument's dilapidated condition and the need to preserve the structure for future generations.

One look at the structure reveals its unique beauty: Fashioned out of terracotta, the Deul (a high mound) is decorated with numerous mythical figures such as terracotta flowers and foliage, gods and goddesses, Hanuman in ecstatic mood, nude dancing figures, and horses in motion.

The Deul is situated at Mathurapur of Gajna union under Madhukhali upazila of the district. Much controversy surrounds the authentic history of the 80-foot high structure. There are different versions but none is fool proof. Some cite a ruler, King Mathura Mohan, after whom the village was named. Mathura wished to build a tomb in his lifetime and he was buried beside the Deul after his death. However, other schools of thought strongly refute this theory.

Another version has it that during the rule of Emperor Akbar there was a kingdom named Bhusana -- a mere 4 km from the Deul. Apparently, Mughal soldiers came here to defeat Sitaram, the King of Bhusana. The beleaguered king turned for help to King Pratapadittya of Jessore and Isa Khan of Sonargaon. Both sent soldiers to help Sitaram. However, the soldiers of the two rulers arrived late, as they had to cross the rivers Garai, Madhumati, Chandana and Padma. As the Mughal soldiers attacked Bhusana, King Sitaram fought back valiantly and won the battle. Later, gathering strength from Delhi, the Mughal soldiers once again engaged in the battle and won the fight. To commemorate both the loss and victory, they built the Deul.

According to yet another version, this region was familiar as Fatehabad and divided into 30 parganas. One of these, Bhusana, was ruled by a king called Satrajit who was defeated by Mughal soldiers. To celebrate their victory, the latter built the Deul.

Another wonderful mythological story has it that the Deul was seven-storied and there was the flowing Chandana River. Envious of each other, the Deul wanted to make the river dry, while the river wanted to drown the Deul. At last, the Deul won; it was partially drowned but left the river dry. Chandana River is no more.

There's another story that Emperor Akbar sent his general Man Singh to defeat the 'Baro Bhuiyan' (the twelve rulers in Bengal). While Man Singh was successful, a close aide of his died in the battle. As a sign of commemoration, Man Singh had the Deul built.

Speaking to various authorities, one gets different accounts. Atul Chandra Kunda, caretaker of the Deul, employed by the Archaeology Department, supports the last theory. "I have heard about it but I don't know the real history. If the Department posts a sign with the authentic history, visitors would be apprised with the real facts," he says.

According to Sultana Zakia Bedura, research assistant of Archaeology Department, there was a Subedar of Fatehabad named Sangram Singh who built the Deul.

When contacted, Sarwar, an engineer working for the Department of Archaeology, said that he didn't know the history of the Deul with any certitude. "So far as I know, the Archaeology Department brought it to the book in 1935. It was repaired around seven years ago. As the monetary allocation was meagre we were unable to restore it further," he said.

Abdul Khaleque, regional director of the Archaeology Department, told this correspondent that the Deul was built in the 17th century.

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