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Gorkai


Gorkai an ancient centre of the Natha sect, situated in the Ranisankail Upazila of Thakurgaon district. The centre contains a temple and a hermitage which carry the memories of legendary Goraksanath (9th-12th centuries AD) and is spread over 4046 sq. metres of land which is about 1.6 metre higher than the agricultural field around. The place still remains marked in the land sketch (JL No14) prepared by FO Bell. There are eight small temples and a very ancient stone well in the centre. A half-sunk building is visible in the middle of the western part of the hermitage compound. The floor of the squire building is 1.36 metre deep from the surface around. A stone-built round well is seen right at the centre of the floor. The well was perfectly built placing rough pieces of sandstone cut to size in somewhat curved manner. This was the only stone-built well in Bangladesh before the discovery of another such well at Kumarganj not far from Gorkai. Low-caste Hindus of the locality hold its water very sacred.

There is another south-facing building on the ground adjacent to the southern part of the building mentioned above. This is known as the tomb of Goraksanath. The upper portion of this two-roomed building is covered by a gradually decreasing four-cornered summit. An arched door at the mid-point of the southern wall leads to the southern room of the building. The smaller northern room can be entered through another narrow arched door. In this room a Lingam-Iike symbol is found carved on a rectangular alter. This is thought to be the emblem of the burial of the Natha Gurus. The tomb of Dhirchai Mohanta is situated 4.10 metres south of Gorakshanath's tomb.

Adjacent to the wall on the eastern arm of the archaeological site stand three more structures side by side. The middle one is a one-room west-facing building. There is a hemispheric dome on the horizontal cornices of the room. Inside the room, a Kali image garlanded with human heads is set on the eastern wall. Not far from the Kali-temple another similar single-room structure is found. This is said to be the tomb of Matsyendranath (c12th century AD). Straight north to the Kali- temple is another single-room building marked with wonderful features. The south-facing room contains a Lingam made of white marble stone. To the northwest of the Lingam temple one more Shiva temple of similar design is found. At a distance of about 12 metres to straight west of this temple is another rectangular two-storied building. An inscribed stone slab on the frame of the southern door of this relatively new building is now preserved in the Dinajpur Museum (serial No B, SH-8). Scholars are of opinion that this slab is the oldest among plates inscribed in bangla script discovered so far. [M Osman Ghani]