Introduction:For centuries a huge mound covering an area of 1300 sq. ft. and 30 ft tall have existed in Bamunpukur, a village very close to Mayapur. The locals call it the Ballal Dhipi, named after Ballal Sen, of the Sen dynasty, who ruled Bengal in the late 12th century AD.
Scattered Ruins of Ballal Dhipi.
Archeological Survey:It was only in late 1970s that it attracted the attention of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and digging started in early 1980s and was carried out in two phases. The first phase was carried out in 1982-83 and it was followed by the second and final phase in 1988-89 revealing a stupendous brick structure in an extensive yard, covered on all sides by enclosure wall. Stucco heads, terracotta human and animal figurines, copper utensils and other objects have also been found from the site. The unearthed huge enclosure contains a complex structure. It was difficult to say what it actually represented. Even historians are unable to come up with any concrete conclusion.
Portion of boundary wall, Ballal Dhipi.
Conclusion about archeological site:• From the structure it is evident that the upper structure was built over earlier existing structure. Historians also agree and according to them the upper remains dating back to the 12th century AD was built over an earlier structure dating back to the 8th and 9th century AD. Archeologists have found traces of renovation and superimposition of structures revealing the remains of a Temple complex datable to the 12th century AD.
• Historians even opine the ruins to be the remains of the lost city of Vijapur, the capital of the Sen dynasty. Vijapur founded by Vijay Sen, father of Ballal Sen, was an advanced urban centre and a metropolis of Sen family. A plaque by Vijay Sen, found in Debpara, t ext from Pavandoot written by Dhoyi, court poet of Laxman Sen (son of Ballal Sen) and text from Adbhutsagar written by Ballal Sen and Laxman Sen, bolster this claim.
• The site is made of solid terracotta bricks, while the floor is made of lime and sand. The tiles and bricks have remarkable resembles with those found in Vikramshila Vihar, in Bihar and Shompur Vihar, in Rajshahi, Bangladesh.
• The cause of destruction of such a magnificent citadel is not known. As most of the statues and images found were broken, the historians attribute the downfall to human hands. However, possibility of destruction due to natural calamity is not altogether ruled out. Finally historians attribute the downfall on a combination of both natural calamity and human hands.
Trip to Ballal Dhipi:Located about 125 km from Kolkata, Ballal Dhipi can be reached via Krishnanagar. It is best to take the morning train and after getting down at the Krishnanagar station take a rickshaw to the bus stop. Take a bus heading for Mayapur and in about 45 minutes time you will be in Bamunpukur Bazar. After getting down from the bus cross the road and take a right turn and walk past a Kali temple to the Mound of Ballal Sen.
Front view of citadel, Ballal Dhipi.
The blue board of ASI declaring it as a Monument of National Importance welcomes you to the historical site. The site is remarkably well preserved. A flight of stairs takes you to the top of the mound. On the left are some minor structures but the gigantic structure lies on the right. The structure on the right contains a stucco stone head of a crocodile. Located at a lower portion of the wall it probably served as a water outlet. Sadly this is the only stuccowork in the entire site. The other stucco stone and terracotta figures along with other artifacts have been removed to the Asutosh Museum of Calcutta University.
View of the citedel, Ballal Dhipi.
On the top of the dhipi the stairs merges to a brick path leading you straight inside the gigantic structure. It ultimately leads to a narrow roof-less passage flanked by high walls on either side, leading you to the backside of the structure, offering a gigantic view of the structure.
Water outlet in the shape of crocdiles head, Ballal Dhipi.
Apart from the central structure the extensive yard is surrounded on all side by an enclosure wall. The wall, which exists only in fragments in decorated with beautiful brickwork. The wall, which is several feet thick in some places, is enough to explain the sheer magnitude of the structure.
Roofless passage, Ballal Dhipi.
It is a pity that not many people are aware of the wonder of Ballal Dhipi, on the other hand it is a blessing in disguise as you are likely to have the entire archeological site all to yourself.
Reference:• Nadia Jelar Purakirti by Mohit Roy edited by Amiya Bondopadhay and Sudhirranjan Das.
• Bhraman Sangi Weekend Tour (Travel Guide)
• Next weekend you can be at Ballal Dhipi by Somen Sengupta, The Telegraph April 10, 2005.
Rangan Datta's Contributions
Chandraketugarh - First Page
Chandraketugarh - Second Page
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State Archeological Museum Exhibition
Collection of Dilip Kumar Maite
Collection of Asad-uj Jaman
Photos from ASI Reviews
Temporary Exhibition at Indian Museum
My photos of Khana-Mihirer Dhipi
My photos of Chandraketugarh area (trees, ricefields...)
Courtesy: Asad-uj Jaman
Last Revised February 27, 2007