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Deulbari


Deulbari is a historical site. 'Deul-badi', literally meaning 'temple site', has been made famous by Nalini Kanta Bhattasali's notice of its historic finds. The discovery was made during the demolition of the old ruins of an ancient temple in that village in the beginning of the twentieth century.

Deulbari is actually not a village but only a pada or section of the large Dharmapur village in Kalikapur Union No.3 under Chauddagram Upazila. The village lies about 14 miles south of Comilla, 6 miles north of Chauddagram and about a mile-and-a-half east of the Comilla-Chittagong highway, and is quite close to the border with India's Tripura State.

Deulbari no longer exists either physically in the locality or in the settlement records of the Revenue Department of the Government. The small settlement which in course of time had gradually grown and developed round the old temple in the southern end of Dharmapur village, is now extinct after the migration of its Hindu inhabitants after the Partition. The entire site has now been turned into agricultural land without any trace of the old houses. Fortunately, its historic name now survives in a local institution still called 'Deulbari Primary School'. The present owners of this Devottara (tax-free) temple property are apprehensive of interference from outsiders and are very uncooperative regarding queries from explorers of the site.

Historic finds from Deulbari include (a) a miniature Surya (Sun) image, 15.24cm high, preserved now in the national museum, Dhaka; (b) a few octo-alloy lingas (falli) including an inscribed Gauripatta in the 7th-8th century script; (c) an inscribed image of Sarvani, one of the 16 names given to the Hindu goddess Durga.

The Surya image is undoubtedly a remarkable sample of East Indian Art. However, the most important object is the inscribed image of Sarvani. This 50.8cm high octo-alloy image is cast in low relief and is rather heavy. The technique is somewhat crude and the pose is rigid. The attributes of the eight-handed goddess are the ones usually given to Durga with the difference that, instead of the Tarjjani Mudra in one of the left hands, Sarvani has a bell. But what is of outstanding importance about this image is the short historic record inscribed by Prabhavati, the Khadga queen on its pedestal. It clearly and specifically designates the image to be that of goddess Sarvani and also informs us that the queen herself gilded the image with gold leaf and installed it in that temple. This was the only image of this class found in Eastern India until the recent discovery of an almost identical image in the ananda vihara site at Mainamati). What is of greater significance about this record is that it gives the genealogy of the khadga dynasty, thus confirming the only other evidence available from the Ashrafpur plates of Devakhadga.

We do not know if the queen herself established the temple. But the place must have been very well known and familiar for her to install the image of her favourite goddess there. It was probably not very far from her palace in the capital. Deulbari may therefore serve as an important clue to the location of the lost Khadga capital, if it still exists in any form, perhaps hidden below later remains.

This inscription has revealed another significant point. The installation of the image of a Hindu goddess by the queen of a devout Buddhist king provides yet another proof of not only the broad general religious tolerance but also the profound respect and veneration for the deities of a religion other than ones own in ancient Bengal. Though no ancient remains are now visible on the surface of Deulbari, some traces of its archaeological importance have been revealed in nearby areas.

Just east of Deulbari, a village called Chukua, has an old temple, a Rajbadi (old palace) and four large ancient water tanks. Old bricks, brickbats, pottery, etc. are reported to have been found on the surface. However, the most prominent ancient site in the locality is Jam Mura, an extensive ancient mound lying about two miles north of Deulbari, almost totally covered now by a modern graveyard. It has been heavily damaged, defaced and flattened by brick hunters and gravediggers. Ancient bricks, brickbats, potsherds etc are still found scattered on the jungle-covered surface. This mound is widely believed to contain significant historic remains, which may afford clues to the location and identification of the lost capital of the Khadgas. [M Harunur Rashid]