Home > Family Tour, Family Weekend Tour, General, Weekend Family Tour, Weekend Tour from Kolkata (Calcutta) > Moghalmari, Buddhist Archaeological Site, West Midnapore

Moghalmari, Buddhist Archaeological Site, West Midnapore

Moghalmari, Buddhist Archaeological Site

West Midnapore

Also see: Weekend Family tour of West Midnapore

Moghalmari is located on the left bank of Subarnarekha River in the district of West Medinipur, 3.2 miles north of Dantan. Since the turn of the millennium an extensive excavation have reveled the remains of an ancient Budhhist Monastery.

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Moghalmari excavation site

The name Moghalmari probably originated from a pitch battle of 16th century between the Mughal and the local king. Although the Mughal army emerged victorious but a large number of Mughal soldiers were killed and hence the name.

Entrance of Moghalmari Archaeological site

The place came into lime light only in 1999 when Prof. Asok Dutta, of the Archaeological Department of Calcutta University took up the initiative of an archaeological study of the area.

The antiquity of the place have been traced long before. British surveyor H. L. Harrison mention of bricks unearthed from Moghalmari way back in 1873.

The famous Chinese traveller Xuanzang (more popularly known as Hiuen Tsang) mentioned about 10 Buddhist Monasteries in the Tamralipta area during his visit in the 7th century CE. But sadly he didn’t mention any names and in the process keeping the archaeologist and historians in the dark.

Club building above Sashisener Dhibi

Since Moghalmari is located very close to Tamralipta, so was the excavated site one of those Buddhist Monasteries visited by the famous Chinese traveller?

Interestingly the time line matches with the archaeological evidences but archaeologists are still not able to come to a concrete conclusion and they need to dig up more evidences for it.

The proper excavation started in 2003 and Sakhisener Dhibi or Sashisener Dhibi, which was designated as MGM1, excavation was also carried on another nearby smaller site designated as MGM2. The MGM1 was a huge mound and occupied by the Tarun Seva Sangha O Pathagar, who have have their club building right atop the mound.

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Excavation at Sashisener Dhibi, Moghalmari

In the next few years several excavation followed under the supervision of Prof. Dutta and in 2012 the West Bengal State Archaeology took over the mound and continued with the excavations.

Restoration work at Moghalmari

The excavation unearthed a huge complex with massive walls, which date back to the 6th – 7th century CE.

The excavation also suggests that the structure was built over two phases with the later one being built over the previous structure.

The structure consisted of decorative bricks along with stucco work. The southern wall with richly decorated with a combination of decorative bricks and stucco works.

The stucco includes floral motifs mostly predominated by lotus and lotus petals. Human figures occupied the shallow niches of the decorative south wall. The excavation continues today with restoration work being carried out on the exposed structure.

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Decorative South Wall, Moghalmari

Apart from structural finding the excavation also unearthed several statues of Buddha, Bodhisattva and a Buddhist gods and goddess, including a few bronze statues.

Stucco work, Moghalmari

The finding also included terracotta tablets, seals bearing post-Gupta Brahmi scripts, mixed metal coin bearing the name of King Samachardeva, gold pendant and part of the crown, etc.

The deciphering the inscription on the seals it was confirmed that Moghalmari actually consists of two monasteries. The two monasteries were Mugalayikaviharika and Yaj├▒apindikamahavihara. Presence of two same period monasteries in the same compound are unique in eastern India. 

Today the ruins of Moghalmari is located near Datan in West Midnapore District . Just after the Nekurseni Station on the Kolkata – Bhubaneswar highway look for the sign on the road divider. A board of West Bengal State Archaeology suggests a right turn.

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Excavation at Sashisener Dhibi, Moghalmari

A winding dirt road through the village leads to the site. A gate with a arched board mentions Mogalmari Bauddha Mahavihara – Mogalmari Tarun Sevs Sangha O Pathagar. During my visit in March 2020 the site was still under extensive excavation and renovation.

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Excavation at Sashisener Dhibi, Moghalmari

On top of the mound stands the building of the club, which has been converted into a museum. Next to the club building is a plastic covered hanger like structure housing the decorative stucco wall.

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Artifacts displayed at the Moghalmari site museum

The plastic covered structure protects the century old stucco work from the elements of nature.

A steep metallic staircase leads to the bottom of the wall and provides a close view of the intricate stucco figures.

The walls also display close up photos of the stucco figures, but the interiors are hot and stuffy making it difficult for a long stay inside.

Sadly Prof. Asok Dutta expired shortly after the site was handed to the state archaeology. Toady a big photo of Prof. Dutta greets visitor to the musueum, housed in the club building.

The small museum houses a series of photographs covering different phases of the excavation starting from the very beginning in 2003. It also exhibits a series of artifacts including brickbats, pot sheds, pottery, decorative bricks and other artifacts found from the site.

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Photos of artifacts at Moghalmari Museum

Necessary Travel Tips:

  • Moghalmari can be covered in a day trip from Kolkata. A total road trip or a train to Khargpur and the rest in a hired car.
  • For weekend tours Kharagpur is the nearest town with basic hotel.

Note: My trip to Moghalmari was part of a family weekend tour. which also covered Pathra, Gangani and Kurumbera.

  1. Pinaki
    August 20, 2020 at 5:52 AM

    Thanks for the great information about our ancient archeological history of Bengal

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