A Tale of Two Lakes

Gautam Kumar Das

The tale of two lakes, to be described, bears a little or no relation to poetic beauty, or luscious landscapes surrounding them. The lakes, Kaldighi and Dhaldighi presently at Gangarampur under Dakshin Dinajpur never inspired any poet, painter or novelist as stimulator for their creativity, write-up or romanticism. They (lakes) are simply ordinary in landscape beauty, neither surrounded with the enchanted woods and exotic land that enthrall nature-lovers, but the lakes and their surrounding areas are enriched with the history of ancient times. It's a mythically known area recognized as Bangarh in the past. Belief of the people on the archaeological site of King Ban and his sovereign at Bangarh is making popular the name of the lakes Kaldighi and Dhaldighi, which are known for centuries. Mythologically it is told that the lakes, excavated by King Ban after the name of his two queens of black (kal) and fair (dhal) complexion, is a popular misconception as survey proves that the lakes are the palaeo-channel of Punarbhaba River. The munificence of King Ban and his kingdom Bangarh is only a myth, though the name of the place Bangarh existing till date. History does not support the existence of any king in the name of King Ban or existence of his two queens. Nevertheless, the myth of King Ban and his two queens remains a top tourist attraction in and around the two lakes. Bangarh, stood nearby Punarbhaba River and the two lakes, is a historical place of interest, not for King Ban, but for the once ruling dynasty of the Mourya, Gupta and Pala kings as evidenced by the coins and clay pots which are found available during excavation of the surrounding areas of Bangarh ruined relics organized by the University of Calcutta.

The area covering the two lakes is known as Devkot in the pages of history. Devkot, stood by the side of two lakes, was once a landmark of the first establishment of the Muslim dynasty in the soil of Bengal when this place was attacked and captured by Bakhtiyar Khiljee, the Turkish hero, during the first decade of the thirteenth century. The two lakes were then under the rules of Devkot kings. Beside Dhaldighi, a world-famous Buddhist college namely Devkot Mahavihara was established by one of the kings of the Pala dynasty which is known at present as Dargaha of Aata Shah. Though Devkot Mahavihara once was converted into a Madrasha-cum mosque first, and then a Dargaha, a mosque erected by or on the grave of a certain Mohamedan saint, Aata Shah, it was once a landmark of Buddhist culture where Atish Dipankar Sreegyan was educated.

Atish Dipankar Srigyyan, a renwoned Buddhist scholar admired most the Devkot Mahabihara where he took his higher education. He used to recite the hymns of the Buddha epic Tripitaka sitting in the Mahavihara beside Dhaldighi, an abandoned channel of the Punarbhaba River. There was another lake nearby named Kaldighi perhaps with the same origin likewise Dhaldighi. Atish Dipankar Srigyyan wandered in and around the temple-town Bangarh in his leisure time accompanied by other classmates or students of that Mahavihara. He was the worthy student of the worthy teachers like Adwaya-bojro, Udhilipa, Vikshuni Mekhla and others who taught in this famous Buddhist college of Devkot Mahavihara. The Devkot Mahavihara-turned Dargaha of Aata Shah is at present restored and preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India as it is a historical place of interest. Though the lake-view of the Dargaha of Aata Shah is a really nice having a stone-built landing place in the lake bank. The lake area of Dhaldighi has not been renovated yet either by the government or by any private sector. It is happy to see that the past scenario of the other lake, Kaldighi is now being renovated by the government and a Zilla Parishad Bungalow has been erected where both fooding and lodging are available for the interested and inspired tourists. The entire areas covering two lakes having rich history of ancient times is inspired to be believed as a heritage site and should be restored as the same which attracts more tourists in the near future.


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Vol. 52, No. 4, Jul 28 -Aug 3, 2019