Ruailbari an archaeological site, situated in the Ruailbari village of kendua upazila in Netrokona district. Derelict remains of this small military outpost is enclosed within double fortification walls and a fosse on three sides, while the river Betagi guards its western flank. Betagi River, meandering along the entire western side of the ruins, veers round on the north for some distance until it meets the moribund Suti River.

Sultan Alauddin husain shah (1494-1519) launched a vigorous war against Nilambar, the Khen king of kamarupa in 1498 and succeeded in capturing the latter's capital. The administration of the conquered hill territory was placed under Husain's son, nusrat shah (1519-32). The occupation of the Ahom country was short lived and Nusrat Shah had to retreat. It is believed that Nusrat Shah escaped from Kamarupa and took shelter at the Ruailbari military outpost and renamed it Nusrat Ajial Mahal. Subsequently, the whole of the greater Mymensingh district came to be known as Nusrat Shahi Pargana.

The fortified area of the site measures approximately 533.23m x 7 426.58m. The brick rampart on the eastern side has an opening for a gateway, now locally known as Singha-Darwaza or 'Lion Gate'. Within the inner mud rampart on the east there are two large tanks; the larger northern one measures 177m x 7 90m and the southern measures 156m x 90m. The two are separated from each other by a 25.5m broad causeway aligned on the Shingha Darwaza (10.2 x 8m wide with a 6m passage). This causeway provided access to the inner brick enclosure. To the south there were two moats on either side of the mud wall of which the inner fosse was linked to the two eastern large tanks through a broad opening. This opening has now been closed for the development of pisciculture in the large tanks.

There were two other gateways of the fortress, one on the southern rampart and the other in the north. It appears that the inner moat on the south provided facilities for berthing on the causeway facing the Singha Darwaza for incoming river crafts from the Betagi River on the west. The southern gateway was built with large stone boulders, now lying scattered on the ground.

The inner protected area of the fortress enclosed within brick wall covers an area of 246m north south by 150m east west. This area is divided by an east-west oriented wall into two unequal sections, measuring 150m 135m to the north and 150m x 97.5m to the south. The northern section accommodates an oblong high mound known as buruj or tower, a tank, a gateway, and a graveyard, while the southern section contains the remains of a jami mosque that was exposed by excavation. By the side of the buruj mound on the east there is a roofless building of a relatively late period consisting of five apartments of varying dimensions, part of which is now occupied by a local madrasa.

Buruj' The buruj mound, measuring 25.5m x 7 21m x 7 6.6m is located to the northwestern corner of the inner brick enclosure. Excavation has revealed here a massively built watchtower externally measuring 20.5m east west and 25.8m north south. It underwent rebuilding a number of times in different periods. A 2m wide staircase was built on the southern side within two sidewalls. Of the two landing platforms of the staircase - the lower and upper-initially entry to the lower platform was from the east but later it was closed and an opening was made on the southern wall. Both the openings appeared to have been in use a little later. In spite of wanton spoliation by local vandals, the northern and eastern entrance walls are still beautifully decorated with polychrome glazed tiles of white, blue, light green and brown colours, representing floral and geometric motifs.

In the earlier phase, two large rooms, measuring 5.4m x 7 5.4m and 5.4m x 7 6.6m respectively, were built, while in the second phase of the construction of the tower, two relatively smaller rooms, each measuring 7m x 7 2.4m, were built over the remains of the southern ones. In the excavation three parallel walls were found to emerge from the east of the buruj mound. Of these, the outer northern wall could be traced up to a length of 4.5m but its remaining length of about 7.5m has been thoroughly ransacked by brick robbers. There was a 1.6m wide entrance into the northern wall. Apart from the above structures some stray walls to the south-west of the tower mound have been exposed in excavation, but indicate no intelligible plan.

The northern section of the forts inner brick enclosure, measuring 56.7m north south by 50.2m east west had two unequal courtyards: one inner and the other outer. They measure 37.5m x 7 28.5m and 90m x 7 69m respectively. Straggling remains of some rooms to the western and eastern fringes of the inner court, though encroached partly by a modern madrasa, reveal three rooms to the west - two of which measure 5.6m x 3.3m and the third measure 11.7m x 7 3.3m. These rooms contained niches in the wall. Likewise, the eastern side accommodates three rooms of the same size with similar niches. The southern section of the courtyard have two rooms on either side of the gateway complex, each measuring 5.7m 5m.

Baraduari Mound A large mound within the southern section of the brick enclosure, south of the Singha Darwaza and about 38m south of the graveyard is known by the misleading name of Baraduari, that is to say, a building with 12 doors. Excavation, however, has revealed the remains of a fairly large pre-Mughal mosque. Rectangular in plan, measuring 21.56m north-south and 14.33m east-west and with about two-metre thick walls, it was probably covered with 15 domes (now collapsed), carried on arches resting on eight stone pillars, arranged in two rows of four each. There were five arched doorways in the east wall and three each on the north and south walls. However, it appears that at some later date the lower part of the doorways on the north and south walls were bricked up and converted into windows. The qibla wall on the west had four richly ornamental mihrabs but the last one at the northwestern corner instead of accommodating a mihrab had a blind engrailed arch relieved with an attractive terracotta chain and bell and rosette motif in the centre.

Ornamented bricks, originally decorating the walls with crisp sunflower motifs, often enclosed within beaded borders, were found plentifully strewn around the mosque. The delicate terracotta art representing floral and arabesque designs depicted string courses, blind merlon, and sinuous tendrils of creepers of the Sultanate period mosques - both on stone and terracotta. Likewise, glazed tiles recovered from the buruj mound have displayed beautiful floral, plant and various attractive geometric patterns.

Among the various antiquities recorded from the excavation include an excellent collection of polychrome encaustic tiles portraying floral and geometric motifs, ornamental bricks, spears, sundry iron objects, and a large collection of stratified ceramic wares.

This forgotten frontier military post of the Sultanate period was destroyed over the centuries as much by vandals as by nature. [Nazimuddin Ahmed]