Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, September 27, 2007

Story and Photos by: Adnan M. S. Fakir

So I set off to visit Ramshagor Dighi, located almost an hours time and 40 bucks rickshaw ride (no direct bus service to the dighi) from the main Dinajpur town. The rickshaws there seriously have to fix their seats; most of them are slanting and a regular rickshaw traveler can understand how annoying that can be. With parts of the road broken and consequently with aching butt, I finally reach the historical relic to find this signboard which brought me back to cloud number 9:

“Though not a Sea, but still its name is Ramshagor. Such a fine open wide stretch of water body on the land surface is it not a sea? Its vastness, tranquility and scenic beauty take one mind to reality of beauty of sea.”

Yeah, that's the official signboard there inviting tourists to visit the place. I must say though, it was attractive; it at least got me in pretty quickly. I guess you are still wondering what the huge fuss about this Ramshagor Dighi is, so let's just get the historical facts or tales done with.

The history is also written down in one of the signboards there but I couldn't make sense of it, so I decided to write it down as I know it instead. As the story goes, Zamidar Raja Ramnath, the guy who finished the Kantajee's Temple, just after the rule of Emperor Aurangazeb, was in charge of the Dinajpur district. At that time, the country was undergoing serious draught and many were dying due to lack of water. Following the crisis, the Raja employed a huge number of people to dig underground for water. The digging went on for several years but no water was found. Frantic and anxious the king then saw a dream that if he sacrificed his son, he would then find water. Finding no other options and being desperate to save his people, the king sacrificed his own son, prince Ram. The very next day, during further digging, water was found sprouting out and filling the entire hole that was dug. This then became the Ramsagor Dighi, after prince Ram.

The most amazing aspect of this dighi is that it is humongous, being 1133 yards in length, 400 yards in breadth and covering over 80 acres! The period of excavation dates back to 1750-1755 AD and it is astonishing to think how they dug this huge hole with just shovels! Another weird and spooky aspect of this lake is that the water level in the lake always stays the same. It never decreases despite how hot the sun is; neither does it increase no matter how much rainfall there is. Scientists say that the lake somehow got connected to some underground water system, acting like a valve, which gives the lake this peculiar characteristic.

There is another dighi with a similar story, although it is considered more folk lore rather than a story. It is the Komolar Dighi situated in Barisal Division. The story is the same that during the digging of the lake, no water was being found. The king there also saw a dream. He dreamt that if his wife goes down into the lake water will spring. However the king had a plan and attached chains with the queen's feet so that they can pull her up. So as they queen walked down into the lake, water kept on rising and soon the queen was completely underwater. The king's men quickly pulled the chain but, as you can already guess, she was not there. The lore goes on saying that the queen's only child used to come by the lake every night and sit there, while the queen would then come out of the lake and feed the child. Many villagers claim to have seen this and this eventually reached the king's ears. The king then decided that the next time his wife would come out he would go and catch her. He tried to do so only to find that he could not touch her. From then on, the queen appeared no more.

Ramshagor Dighi has been recently transformed into Ramshagor Park, a commercial picnic and tourist spot. While this place is also slowly being infested with love birds on boats rummaging around the lake, there is also a small zoo type place with lots of cute Deer and two Huron birds. Although few are interested in the actual historical relevance of the place, most visit simply for a time to relax, get out of the bustling city life and have some fun; all of which this place adequately provides. So next time you guys plan to head out for a picnic, keep this place on the list. You just might like it.



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