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Chandradvipa


Chandradvipa a local principality during pre-Mughal period and a major zamindari during Mughal times. Towards the close of medieval period Chandradvipa zamindari extended over the regions of south and southwest Bakerganj district. Sometimes it was called Bakla-Chandradvipa after sarkar Bakla. The headquarters of the zamindari was at Kachua. Immediately after the permanent settlement, the zamindari was transferred to several new hands due to revenue default. From the early nineteenth century, Madhabpasha was made the head kachari of the major part of the erstwhile Chandradvipa Raj.

The Buddhist deity Tara of Chandradvipa was famous even as early as in the Gupta period. It is assumed that Chandragomin, the grammarian, composed his famous hymns of Tara while he was living in Chandradvipa in the 5th or 6th century AD. According to a Chinese writer the Tara Temple was situated in the south sea ie the Bay of Bengal. The image and temple of Tara are also referred to in a manuscript of 1015 AD.

Chandradvipa has been mentioned in a few copperplates of srichandra, a major Chandra king, and it is mentioned that Trailokyachandra became the king of Chandradvipa towards the beginning of the 10th century AD. It appears from south Indian writings and the evidence of ain-i-akbari that Chandradvipa was also called Vangaladesha. It is now agreed that Sarkar Bakla (now Barisal, formerly Bakerganj) of Ain-i-Akbari and Chandradvipa were identical. It is also known that this Chandradvipa or the area of Bakerganj was within Vanga in the 13th century. In the 13th century Madhyapada (or Sahitya Parisad) inscription of Vishvarupasena, names of two place occur- 'Vangalbada' and 'Chandradvipa'. Some scholars opine that the last one stands for Chandradvipa. The Ain-i-Akbari mentions the name of Paramananda Roy, the king of Bakla or Chandradvipa.

According to local traditions the authority of Danujmardanadeva, the founder of the Kayastha Basu zamindar family of Chandradvipa, was recognised throughout the whole of Bakerganj district. It is said that he owned the kingdom through the blessings of a Brahmin named Chandrasekhar Chakraborty and named his kingdom after the Brahmin. Perhaps this anecdote does not carry any historical validity. However, a silver coin of Danujmardanadeva has been found at a village named Basudevpira under Khulna. The coin has the words 'Shri Shri Danujmardanadeva' on the one side of the coin and the words 'Shri Shri Chandicharan Parayana Samvat 1339' on the other. The word 'Chandadvipa' occurs in the coin.

The name of Kandarpanarayan, grandson of Paramananda, occurs prominently among the bara-bhuiyans of East Bengal who resisted the Mughal aggression for sometime. Perhaps Kandarpanarayan extended the kingdom of Chandradvipa to Jessore in the west and Dhaka in the north. For defence purpose, he established a strong fort on the southern frontier of his kingdom. He got a tank excavated at Khudrakathi, a place to the northwest of Barisal.

ralph fitch visited Chandradvipa in 1586 and has left behind an interesting narrative of it. A brass cannon measuring a little over five cubits in length and made by Rupia Khan of Sreepur with the name of Kandarpanarayan engraved on it was preserved in the capital of Chandradvipa for a pretty long time.

Ramchandra, son of Kandarpanarayan, married Bindumati, daughter of Pratapaditya of Jessore, It does not appear, however, that this matrimonial relations in any way helped to bring forth cordiality between the two principalities. Ramchandra established his capital at Husainpur in 1558. He defeated Laksmanmanikya, the raja of Bhulua.

Kirtinarayan, son and successor of Ramchandra, fought successfully against the Portuguese. His stepbrother Pratapnarayan Roy succeeded him, during whose time possibly the Muslims captured Chandradvipa.

In course of time the Basu family of Chandradvipa ceased to exist and the Mitra Majumdar family of Ulail (near Dhaka) came to own the Chandradvipa zamindari. The greater part of the zamindari was sold out in auction after the introduction of the permanent settlement in 1793. [Aksadul Alam]

Bibliography H Blochmann, 'Contributions of the Geography and History of Bengal', Journal of the Asiatic Society, part I, no III, 1873, DC Sircar, Studies in the Geography of Ancient and Medieval India, Delhi, 1960.