Moghulmari Monastery

It is a monastery. But now the cows and the goats are grazing in this archaeological heritage of Paschim Medinipur District of West Bengal. You can see the ruined Pali sculpture, old statues of Lord Buddha, Bengali lifestyle of Pali times and several others ruined architectures that make this ruined place as a historical mystery.  Dr. Asok Datta, a well known archaeologist and erudite scholar unearthed the site. He and his team unearthed the civilization of ancient era. Some of the discovered elements that are found from the site are Gold Coins, artifacts, ruined sculptures and the pillars. Moghulmari Monastery is decorated with human figures and flowery motifs, votive tablets and decorative bricks, along with 14 life-size stucco figures have established that this Moghulmari Monastery is the largest and the prosperous Buddhist monastic complex in the sixth century or even late fifth century Bengal.

The best option from Kolkata is to travel by Dhouli Express and get down at Belda Railway Station and hire a car or trekker for Moghalmari and other sites like Museum, Kurumbera Fort, Gangoni and many other sites of Bengal history.

Located in southern part of Paschim Medinipur district, close to the border with Odisha,
Moghalmari Monastery or Moghalmari Buddhist Monastery, which is known as the “Killing of Mughals” was a place for the followers of Gautama Buddha. It is now reachable from Dantan in the West Midnapore District in West Bengal. It is also called as Dantapur Buddhist Monastery or Srivandak Mahavihar.

Srivandak Mahavihar is named here as the name of the village is Dantan. Dantan is derived from the word of Sanskrit Language as “danta” means tooth. This is now an archaeological site dedicated to Gautama Buddha. The art and architecture of Mogolmari Monastery here has the minute brick work of South Bengal, stucco or plastic art that was popular in ancient Gandhara. The executed stucco figurines of God Buddha, Bodhisattva and other relief works of Srivandak Mahavihar followed the benefaction of the people of pre-Christian era or the advent of British colonialism.  The fame of Moghalmari Monastery is mentioned in the writings of Hieun Tsang. The Chinese traveller Fa Hien, who visited ancient Bengal during 411-412 AD, has written that there were 24 monasteries in the Tamralipta region. He stayed there for a while to copy Buddhist texts to China. More than 200 years later, another Chinese pilgrim, Hieun Tsang came to Bengal in 638 and noted in his travelogue that the Tamralipta region had 10 monasteries and 1,000 monks.

The village Moghalmari is situated near Dantan police station in the district of West Medinipur Disrtict. The village is about 5.2 km north of Dantan station and 46 kilometres south of Kharagpur railway station and 2 km south of Nekurseni station on National High Way No. 60. The archaeological site of Mogalmari was located on the left bank of Subarnarekha River, which now floes about 4.5 km west of Moghalmari. Moghalmari can be reached from Kharapur (about 45 km) or from Belda about 12 km.

The mound of Mughalmari has given way to a massive site covering an area of 3,600 square meters, which is being previously touted by Bengal archaeologists as the biggest and oldest excavated site in West Bengal, dating back 1,500 years in time.

The Archaeological Department of University of Calcutta started the excavation work of Mugholmari monastery from the year 2003 and the excavation of last phase i.e. sixth phase was started on 12 March and ended on 25 March. From the site of Moghalmari Monastery, there are twelve Buddha statues have been found under this project and names of three have been found. The statue in the pose of Hindu Goddess Saraswati with Veena, a musical instrument in hands and tangled by snakes named ‘Janguli’; the statue in a sitting position with a lotus in hand named ‘Abalokiteswar’ and the garlanded statue named ‘Lokeswar’. There are also other nine statues found from Moghalmari Monastery having the height of each statue is 42 centimetres. Archaeologists uncovered a gold coin from the Gupta period. The coin has the image of an emperor on the obverse, and the image of what seems to be a goddess on the other side.

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