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Exploring Around Dhosa & Tilpi – The Twin Sites of a Historic Revelation

Trip Taken On June – 18th – 2006

Saurab Basu

We had been interacting for a long time, on the net, upon the gifted platform in the form of the Chandraketugarh Group, and the new revelations in Bengal history – Tilpi & Dhosa, gave us the stands to activate the momentous network of Bengal history lovers for the first time! To me it is really momentous because where mind thinks history and hobbies converge at such chronological sites, it is nothing less than hay days. And one such day would be marked on the calendar as June, the 18th, 2006.

Various vernacular and English dailies had been focusing on the recent archaeological finds at the Twin sites of Tilpi & Dhosa, for the past few months. We kept interacting on the web, regarding the same, when finally it was decided to really head out for the archaeological fields of South – 24 – Parganas and explore it by ourselves. An Itinerary was set –

Tilpi & Dhosa (Joynagar) Expedition June - 18th, 2006

Tentative Group:
Mr. Rangan Dutta, Mr. Bikram G. Roy, Mr. Saurab Basu
Departure Schedule:
Meeting Point: Sealdah Station Platform No. - 9A / 9B
Meeting Time: 7:30:00 AM SHARP!!
Train Time: 8:10 AM
Train Route: Sealdah - Lakshmikantapur Local (EMU)
Convineance to Site: VAN Ricksaw
Probable Arrival Time @ Site: 11:00 AM
Duration of Stay: Estimated 1 - 2 Hrs (Depending on Conditions)
Return To Station: By Van Ricksaw
Lunch at Joynagar / TBD

Return Plan:
Train Timings: 14:10 & 15:06 Hrs from Joynagar
Arrival at Sealdah: 15:35 & 16:33 respectively
Train Route: Lakshmikantapur - Sealdah Local (EMU)
Final Point: Sealdah Station, then avail best option for return
P.S.: Destination Station May Vary according to necessity. Please Carry a Local Railway Suburban Time Table for convenience

As per the unavoidable schedules, few, earlier in the list had to finally opt out of the Trip, leaving behind, three of the Musketeers to work for themselves.

So, having things finally in place, and after confirming the schedules with Bikram G Roy and Rangan Dutta, it was time to start the day. We had decided to meet at the spot - Sealdah Station Platform No. - 9A / 9B, and as per plan, I had to make an early start, taking the down Dankuni – Sealdah Local, to reach the meeting point at 07:20 AM, well 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Rangan (Who is a Educational professional, and a freelance Traveler – cum – Photographer), was already waiting his turn at the spot before me. A quick greet got both of us ready, with Rangan updating me regarding Bikram’s change of plan, to board the train from Jadavpur railway Station. Actually, we were to take the 08:12 AM SLN242 – Sealdah – Namkhana EMU, and for Bikram, the best was to take it from Jadavpur, instead of traversing all the way back till Sealdah.

Being a Sunday, it was expected not be that crowded, and so I could afford a puff, before walking on to the platform and wait for the kick start. After discussing with Rangan, I mentioned that instead of going to Joynagar, Gocharan would be the better port of call. During my last visit to Joynagar and Nimpith, a locality nearby, famous for the Ramkrishna Ashram, I had interacted with a few residents here, and identified that Gocharan is the best fit for a visit to Tilpi & Dhosa, because of better accessibility options available.

The vacant rakes were parked on the Platform No. – 13, of the Sealdah South section, and we were swift to walk over to the Front-End of the train, and board the First Compartment, which would be easy to identify by Bikram. The Kick Off was dot on schedule, considering the Bengal standard time, and we drifted off at 08:15 AM. The population kept rising inside our compartment, and came to a threshold while we reached Dhakuria, the third station, where a considerable number of people exchanged occupancy, with the outward ratio, definitely appreciable. A call to Bikram’s cell phone had him ready to board the train within a couple of minutes, which he eventually achieved with success, as we reached Jadavpur, soon after this.

The team at Dhosa and Tilpi

Bikram turned up with a pleasant surprise, his wife, Mahua, sharing her time with us. The Three Musketeers were finally composed to a group of four, now. A patient move for a few minutes, gave them the gift of seats, and we shared a few words. The train was moderately on time, and we were in Gocharan at 09:25 AM, having the better half waiting for us. The Distance between Sealdah and Gocharan is 36 KM, and fare being Rs. 9/- from Dum Dum JN (43 KM), by IInd Class Ordinary.

A round of Tea and some local bakery stuffs, with Bikram and Rangan setting up their Cameras; it was our turn to move out of the station in search of an Auto Ricksaw, which would be taking us through to Dhosa Haat (‘Haat’ means Market). The fare seemed impressive, @ Rs. 7/- per head for the estimated 15 KM journey to Dhosa. And we were satisfied to pay the amount, after experiencing the treacherous traversal road. Dhosa Haat is the central point of the Village – “Dhosa”, under the JoyNagar – Gocharan region. This is the popular market area, with a typical village environment, a touch of greenery on all sides, the BDO Office marking the centre of focus, and small shops and open-air vending stalls making it up for their daily doings.

We asked some of the local people, the first lot of whom were quite ignorant of the archaeological site, nearby, while the later half showed us the way towards the excavated Mound. At the end of the metalled road from Gocharan Station to Dhosa Haat, a by-lane starts towards the right ward direction. This is the approach towards the mound. With the brick laid lane snorkeling on, shaking hands with the beautiful countryside greens, we walked on to reach the site, within a couple of minutes.

Excavated remains at Dhosa

The Site at Dhosa has undergone a couple of season’s work-out to finally come out into exposure after a pre-dominant period of dormancy. The land was under private ownership, and the leveling work for utilizing this land in irrigational practice, exposed the remains of an ancient structure beneath the heart of the soil.

According to studies, relating the famous Chinese traveler Fa Hien, a highly evolved Buddhist Civilization and subsequent Culture, flourished in the Gangetic Bengal, known to as “Gangaridae”. The concentric square construction model, unearthed at Dhosa seemed to be the remains of an ancient Buddhist Stupa, and possibly one in the list, reported by Fa Hien.

Dhosa site overview

The Square brick built structure measuring approximately 10 to 12 metres on both sides, consists of a number of blocks, with a giant portico at the end. The site is still on an elevated note from the ground level, and as per recent excavation and analysis, it must have been superimposed on a pre-dominant architecture. “Dhosa” might be enlisted as one of the first evidences of Buddhist Remains in lower Bengal. Although a number of Stupas and Viharas, have been unearthed in and around nearby, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, but this is indeed the first glimpse of light on Buddhist Studies, involving Sourthern parts of Bengal. Dhosa and Tilpi must have been closely linked to Chandraketugarh, marking the striking resemblance to the pottery type and explored artifacts collected from the two sites.

A group of interested locals were soon to be attracted towards this group of historians. They told us about some of the artifacts that have been collected from the site, including a “Small Head of Buddha”, some terracotta plaques, potteries, seals and ‘Yakshi’ figurines similar to the ones found at Chandraketugarh. According to Dr. Goutam Sengupta, the Director of Bengal Archaeology & Museums, “It is obvious that in the 1st and 2nd Century BC, a highly evolved culture existed here. And the artifacts surviving the salinity of the Sunderban region is amazing.” (Quoted from the Article – “2200-yr-old life in Bengal” – The Telegraph - Feb 19, 2006).

Capturing another historian

Rangan and Bikram, opted for the Bird’s eye view of the site, from top of the Temporary observatory, parked in front of the mound. According to them the view was quite outstanding, while I continued speaking to the folks nearby. One of them claimed to have had found the “Buddha Head” and another Male Torso figurine from the site, which he later handed over to the archaeologists. He also added on the various patterns of beads and semi-precious stones found in the site. We were not lucky enough to see any of them, as they had already been re-located at the “State Archaeology Museum – Behala”.

A walk back to the Market area after this, we were to board a Motor Van-Ricksaw to reach – Tilpi. The journey past some of the most undulating roads of South-Bengal, we tracked our way. Charges for the Van, up and down, along with a Waiting time of almost ˝ an hour, cost us Rs. 50/-.

The "obervatory" at Dhosa

Anyways, the pathetic instances of PWD Roads Department, continued well after this, as we dribbled our way to Tilpi, amidst the many Paddy fields and series of enchanting Bengal Grasslands. The fresh fragrance of the soils around, kept us far away from the infrastructure tangles, and rather focused on the fact that – “This is the Originality of India! Truly Outstanding!”

The Philosopher’s pen slumped down, with an unpredicted jerk, to remind us of our onset. We were at Tilpi, with the site within 50 metres. The Van-Driver showed us the path. A walk past the lofted settings, feeling almost like dusk at mid-noon hours, we sauntered to the mound. The three trenches, are still open, with the lurking potsherds, marking presence of primeval entities hidden underneath.

Tilpi site overview

The trenches, although not deep enough, have brought into light evidences of ancient metal craftsmanship in Gangetic Bengal. The discovery of parts of a furnace, probably used for casting Iron, Silver and bronze for minting and coinage purposes, proves evident from the findings. An Overall 8 number of firesides, each measuring about 50 cm X 80 cm X 80 cm high have been exposed. Along with this, small crucibles used for melting metals were found. One of the pits, containing a large clay jar, set to the floor, probably used for Water Storage, counted in the list of discoveries.

The darkness created by the enclosing Bamboo Plantations, in this site, adds on to the adventure. The adjacent pond, surrounded by a number of playmate ducks, kept our Third Eye busy, all through.

Dhosa site

The three pits, after the first season, are still open to reveal further surprises. Measuring approximately 2 m X 2 m X 2 m, each trench has clear evidence of three layers of settlement, with no structural presence, excepting mud-brick constructions. The walls of the troughs, christened with serrated potteries that include mostly Post-Medieval Red Ware and some rare instances of Early Black Ware.

Dhosa site

Dhosa site, photo by Bikramadittya G. Roy

A number of engrossed locals were to join the party soon. They have been involved with this site, since long, and readily showed us some of the various antiquities, discovered by them. They have preserved their history in a profound fashion, and are ready to hand it over to the “Central Antiquities Collection” to conserve their past for the future.

A list of the artifacts Observation is already mentioned by “Rangan Dutta”, in his report.

Unearthed artifacts at Tilpi

The locals were very friendly, and it was a real pleasure to have spent some time with them. They were determined, not to negotiate History at any cost. The artifacts were in safe hands this time, unlike the traders of Chandraketugarh, who deal history!!

Ancient pottery and brickwark embedded wall at Tilpi

While writing this report, I went through the pages compiled by Sebanti Sarkar (The Telegraph) and Rangan Datta (History of Bengal Website) and got the details on some of the many antiquities revealed at Dhosa and Tilpi, which are now in the State Archaeological Museum, and will be on display, possibly very soon.


Ducks, photo by Bikramadittya G. Roy

It was time to bid adieu to the friends at Tilpi & Dhosa, after a lunch at one of the local Restaurants at Dhosa Haat. The infrastructure is, as expected, nothing very polished. Food served is good and really economic. Lunch had to be quick, because still quite a lot of jerks were to be endured, courtesy our return journey back to Gocharan Station, by Auto, clubbed to each other in an over capacitating scenario.

A bottle of the famed “Photash” (Local Soda Water), to raise a toast at the station, I kept my Thumbs Up, and then it was turn to board the Lakshmikantapur – Sealdah EMU at 02:35 PM, taking me to Dhakuria by 03:30 PM. Bikram and his wife, dropped at Jadavpur, while Rangan continued till Sealdah. I was tired, but a call from Mom, to pick her up from my Aunt’s place, was not to be forgotten.

A ‘luxurious’ return, courtesy, the newest feather on Kolkata’s Cap – “The WhiteLiners” Air Conditioned Service, saw us back at Airport, within 45 minutes. Truly, this is how the journey shook hands with the Buddhist minds from Dhosa, to the mystic mints of Tilpi, and finally taking me to the Futuristic ride of luxury, back home.

Informational References:

1. Treasure trove seals worth of site- Emerging, Holy Centre by Sebanti Sarkar - The Telegraph – February, 28th, 2006.
2. Twin sites of Mystery – Archeological Seminar by Sebanti Sarkar – The Telegraph – March, 11th, 2006.
3. 2200 – yr – old life in Bengal by - Staff Reporter-The Telegraph –February 19th, 2006.
4. Furnace found near stupa site by Sebanti Sarkar-The Telegraph – March 19th, 2006.
5. Dhosa & Tilpi – Write Up by Rangan Dutta (History of Bengal Website).

Sincerely Thankful To:

Rangan Dutta / Bikram G.Roy / Mrs. Roy for making the First Event a Grand Success.

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Chandraketugarh - Second Page

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Ambarish Goswami
Last Revised March 1, 2007