ASI to survey 8th Century Hindu-Buddhist sculptures found near Assam-Mizoram border | Latest News India


A professor of Assam University Silchar and research scholar under him have claimed that they have discovered some 1500-years-old (8th century) Hindu and Buddhist-influenced sculptures at a hill area near Assam-Mizoram border.

The sculptures found near the Assam Mizoram border.
The sculptures found near the Assam Mizoram border.

Assistant professor at Assam University’s Department of Visual Arts, Dr Ganesh Nandi and researcher Dr Binoy Paul said that they had to travel through the forests for almost a whole night from Assam’s Hailakandi district, crossing the Assam-Mizoram state border, to reach their destination.

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They said that they the sculptures were found at Kolalian village at Mizoram’s Mamit district which is adjacent to Hailakandi district. Most of the locals in that area belong to Reang Tribes and they worship Hindu deities.

According to Dr Nandi, these stone works have similarities with the sculptures found in Tripura’s Unakoti and Pilak, which are believed to be created between 7th and 9th century. “We believe that the sculptures found in Kolalian were created in similar period,” Nandi said.

He said that they found only one full-sized idol which looks like Lord Buddha (with the dress and style) but it seems like a female structure. “We cannot be sure if it is a Buddha or a Hindu deity but the art form has similarities with the Buddha idols found in Cambodia,” he said.

Dr Nandi said that as per The Rajmala (the history of the Manikya Kings of Tripura), Maharaja Dhanya Manikya sent his General, Rai Kachak to this part of the land to control some Reang rebels and he did a Durga Puja at this place.

“There were many small kingdoms under Tripura’s Manikya Kingdom and this small Reang group was one of them. As per the local folktales, Rai Kachak stayed here for a few times and he performed Durga Puja at this hill,” he said.

As per The Rajamala, Dhanya Manikya was the Maharaja of Tripura between 1490 and 1515 CE and Rai Kachak was his general. Many temples with beautiful stone works including Tripura Sundari Temple in Udaypur were constructed during Dhanya Manikyas reign.

However, there is no evidence if the stone works in Kolalian were created during that period. Professor Nandi said that the art form of these sculptures is similar to the art forms found during Gupta and Paul periods (between 7500-1200 CE).

“Considering the style of stone works, the ornaments, dress of the idols, we can say this is very much similar to the stone of works done during Gupta and Paul periods. These references are found in Tripura’s Unakoti and Pilak as well. I wish we could see more idols here,” Nandi said.

He said that as per Rajmala, ancient Cachar was called as Kingdom of Hidamba and it was part of Tripura Kingdom for a period. “That could be the time when these sculptures were created. We’ll need detailed research to come to any concrete conclusion,” he said.

Professor Nandi took the pictures of broken idols and in his further research, he found that the ornaments, especially on the female structures, have similarities with stone works happened during the Paul and Gupta periods.

According to Nandi and Paul, this site was undiscovered by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the past researchers but the locals were protecting the stone works, considering them as their Gods.

“When we reached the spot, the local residents from Reang community said that nobody ever went there for research. According to our research, these sculptures are undoubtedly the oldest of such art works in Barak Valley’s history,” he said.

According to the local residents in Kolalian, the entire hill was full of different art works but now only a few are remaining. “We believe in Hindu religion and for generations, we have been offering Puja to these idols as Hindu God and Goddesses,” said Pitaram Reang, a local resident.

Another local resident, Pradip Kumar Reang told HT that there were forts and many other stone works related to Reang Tribal kings in Kolalian, Rengdil and surrounding areas but most of them were destroyed by outsiders.

“Before 1989, this was part of Assam and the attacks started after the area became part of Mizoram. The outsiders used grenade and other weapons to destroy these stone-works. We believe that 90% of these precious sculptures have been destroyed,” he said.

Pradip said that they kept calling researchers, people from mainland India and journalists to highlight these works because they believed it would have protected the last of the sculptures.

“We worship them as Durga, Shiva, Lakshmi, Vishnu and Ganesh. Our entire civilization is surrounded by this belief. Even the priest family is doing their duties for many generations. We are vulnerable, weak and less protected but our beliefs are unbreakable,” he added.

Senior researcher and former vice-chancellor of Assam University Silchar, Dr Jayanta Bhushan Bhattacharjee said that he has worked on the historical monuments of Barak Valley for decades but they never knew that such important works exist in this part of the country.

According to him, the best book on the history of this part of India is author Upendracandra Guha’s Kacharer Itibrityo but the book doesn’t have reference of Kolalian.

About the geographical history of this part of the land, professor Bhattacharjee said that in the early centuries, the civilization on this plain land was large and there was a triangle at Tripura, Srihatta (Sylhet) and Dimasa Kingdom’s connecting area. Kolalian stands near that triangle which was once part of Surma Valley, according to him.

“If we look at the geography, Unakoti, Pilak and this Kolalian are on a typical geographical route and it is very much possible that the sculptures found in Kolalian, are more than 1000 years old,” he said.

Bhattacharjee said that most of the history of this land are oral and there is lack of evidence everywhere but this discovery by professor Nandi and his scholar has the potential to change the history of Barak Valley and surrounding areas.

“We lost many historical monuments but now this has to be preserved and protected. The Archaeological Survey of India is coming to visit the place and they may find more works there,” he said.

An official from ASI, Guwahati said that they are preparing to visit the area and a team of Assam University Silchar will accompany them.

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