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Rohitagiri


Rohitagiri appears in several copper-plates of Srichandra, the famous king of the Chandra dynasty of' south-eastern Bengal (Vanga-Samatata), as the original home of the forefathers of the ruling king. It is mentioned that the first ruler (more accurately a landlord, bhujam) Purnachandra belonged to the landowning Chandra family of Rohitagiri (Chandranam-iha Rohitagiri-bhujam vamse), and his grandson Trailokyachandra rose to such an important position of feudatory chief that he was considered to be the mainstay (adhara) of the power of the king of Harikela. From this information scholars started speculating about the identification of Rohitagiri. RD Banerji and NG Majumdar identified it with Rohtasgarh in the Shahabad district of Bihar, and they were inclined to believe that the Chandras were of external origin. BC. Sen and DC Sircar supported this identification and the latter went so far as to suggest that the Chandras were originally feudatories of the Pala kings, and came to Bengal in the service of the Palas. However, it must be said that other than the similarity of sound there is no evidence to connect Rohitagiri of the Chandra plates with Rohtasgarh in Bihar. Moreover it appears to be in contradiction to the information of the Chandra plates that they were originally feudatories of the Harikela kings and from that position came to occupy Chandradvipa. Therefore Rohitagiri must be located somewhere in South-eastern Bengal and near about Harikela (the early location of which is in the south-eastern part of Bengal bordering Arakan. With these facts in view NK Bhattasali located Rohitagiri in the Lalmai hills in the Comilla district, while Haridas Mitra identified it with Rangamati in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Three Chandra copper-plates were found during archaeological excavations at Mainamati in the Lalmai Hills, and this tilts the balance of the identification of Rohitagiri in favour of a place in the Lalmai Hills, though, of course, its exact location is not a settled matter yet.

However, it is worth noting that Rohitagiri may be the Sanskritised form of Lalmai (red earth) Hills and therefore Bhattasali's suggestion has met with general acceptance. But Haruur Rashid, on the basis of the Paschimbhag copper-plate of SriChandra maintained that Samatata country did not form a part of the original kingdom of the Chandras and he has gone with AH Dani's suggestion that Rogitagiri may lie in the several other ranges that spread out south of Lalmai-Mainamati ranges and cross Chittagong Hill Tracts right into Arakan. These ranges also contain lateritic deposits, which may also claim to be named Rohitagiri. Rashid is of the opinion that the remains of Rohitagiri of the Chandras, if they still exist, are most likely to be found in the area lying between Vanga-Samatata-Srihatta area and Arakan, with which the past of the Chandras is generally associated by tradition. Further archaeological investigation may one day lead us to a definite identification. [AM Chowdhury]

Bibliography AM Chowdhury, Dynastic History of Bengal, Dhaka, 1967; M Harunur Rashid, The Early History of South-East Bengal in the Light of Archaeological Material, Dhaka, 2008.