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Kotalipara


Kotalipara a fortified city of the ancient independent kingdom of vanga. Situated on the Ghagar river about 28km southeast of the district town of Gopalganj, it was also known as Chandravarmankot and is mentioned in the Ghughrahati copperplate of Samacharadeva. james wise thought it to be the capital of the 'gangaridai' state mentioned in Greek accounts. However, it seems more reasonable to link it with the ancient Vanga state.

The independent Vanga state was formed in the 6th century AD in southern and eastern Bengal and parts of western Bengal may have been included in it. The names of three independent kings-gopachandra (c540 AD), Dharmaditya (c570 AD) and Samacharadeva (c end of 6th century AD) are known from six copperplates, five recovered from Kotalipara (Kotalipada) area and one from Burdwan area. From these copperplates and a few coins found at the village of Kurpala, it can be deduced that these kings took the paramount titles of Maharajadhiraja, Nrpadhiraja and Adhimaharaja. Kotalipada was their centre of administration.

However Kotalipara fort is now in ruins. The almost forgotten Chandravarmankot had two parts - the main fort-city and its adjunct. The main fort was rectangular in shape and was spread over an area of about 19 sq km; about 4.75 km in length and 4 km in breadth. The dyke surrounding the fortification wall is still visible. The adjunct city was probably to its southwest on the bank of the Ghagar river. Remarkable archaeological relics have been recovered from the villages of Gugrahati, Kurpala, Guakhola and Majhbari in the region. In a few 6th century copperplates, the Kotalipara area has been mentioned as navyavakashika (new formed land). In 6th century AD, this area was probably an important centre of riverine trade.

A few gold coins of Chandragupta II (c 380 AD) and Skandhagupta (c 455-467 AD) were discovered during land surveys conducted in the Sonakandi fields of Guakhola village. Kotalipara was, in all probability, an important trading centre in addition to being an area where agriculture had flourished. In the two sixth century copperplates found here there are mentions of naudandaka, navatakseni, nauyana and naughata - all indicative of the importance of the riverine traders in the area.

A Surya image was found in this area and has also been mentioned in some written accounts. Though little is known about Kotalipara, the available evidence clearly testifies to the antiquity of the place. [Jesmin Sultana]