Home > Bengal Archeology, Bengal History, General, Weekend Tour from Kolkata (Calcutta) > Nandadirghi, Buddhist Vihar, Jagjibanpur, Malda

Nandadirghi, Buddhist Vihar, Jagjibanpur, Malda

Nandadirghi Vihar

Buddhist Vihar, Jagjibanpur, Malda

Also see: Gour Pandua Tour

During the summer of 1987 Jagadish Gayen, a farmer from the remote village of Jagjibanpur bordering Bangladesh in Malda district, stumbled upon a copper plate. The plate measured 52.5cm x 37.5cm and had inscription on both side.

Ruins of Nandadirghi Vihar at Jagjibanpur under restoration

Ruins of Nandadirghi Vihar at Jagjibanpur under restoration

Gayen had no idea what was written but he could figure out that the plate was something extraordinary. Understanding the historic importance he submitted it at the panchayet office. The plate soon moved to the BDO office and then onwards to the DM office and final made its way to the State Archaeology department.

Jagadish Gayen in front of the ruins of Nandadirghi Vihar

Jagadish Gayen in front of the ruins of Nandadirghi Vihar

Experts soon found out the script of the plate to be kharosthi and the content was soon deciphered.

The plaque with a royal seal on the top was charter, a hitherto unknown ruler called Mahendrapal Deva, of the Pala dynasty, bequeathed a plot called Nandadirghik-odranga to his army chief Mahasenapati Vajradeva for building a Buddhist monastery to help his parents and the people, in general, attain religious merit.

The plaque further mentions Mahendrapala as the son of Devapala. He ruled over region in the 9th Century AD. The plate helped historians to re-write the political history of Bengal and north India.

Panoramic view of the Nandadirghi Vihar site, with a site museum building on the left

Panoramic view of the Nandadirghi Vihar site, with a site museum building on the left

But where did the monastery go? A preliminary search operation was carried out in the surrounding area and the archaeologist identified five mounds Tulabhita, Akhridanga, Nimadanga, Maibhita and Lakshmidhibi.

Well at the Nandadirghi Vihar complex, Jagjibanpur

Well at the Nandadirghi Vihar complex, Jagjibanpur

Out of the five Tulabhita was the largest and most impressive of the mounds and the archaeologist wanted to give it a try. Sadly the mound had modern settlements above it and it took a few years to rehabilitate them.

The proper excavation began in 1995 and continued for a decade. The excavation revealed a structure containing a sanctum sanctorum, bastions-cum-cells, balcony, steps, bathroom complex, well, courtyard and entrance. The archaeological findings suggest that the ruins were the remains of Nandadirghi Vihar, one of the leading centres of learning in 9th Century AD.

Lime used for restoration at Nandadirghi Vihar

Lime used for restoration at Nandadirghi Vihar

The excavation also revealed a series of decorative plaques numbering over 250, which were displayed on the outer wall of the monastery.

They covered a wide variety of subjects including gods and goddesses to daily life scenes to wild and domestic animals.

Most of the plaques have been removed to the state archaeological museum in Behala, where there is an entire gallery dedicated to the Nandadirghi Vihar site of Jagjibanpur.

The replica of the copper plaque is also on display. The original plate is presently in the Malda state archaeology museum but is kept under lock and key and is out of reach of visitors.

Lime plaster being applied at Nandadirghi Vihar

Lime plaster being applied at Nandadirghi Vihar

Today the ruins of Nandadirghi Vihar are located 40 km east of Malda town (Google map location) but sadly there is no proper public transport connecting it. It is best to hire your own vehicle. During our visit in February 2022 we found the structure being restored, although lime and brick dust was used as the cementing and plastering material the extended portions didn’t match the original structure creating a contrast which is not very aesthetically appealing.

Panoramic view of the Nandadirghi Vihar archaeological site with the two upcoming site museums

Panoramic view of the Nandadirghi Vihar archaeological site with the two upcoming site museums

Also two new structures have come up on the eastern and northern side of the ancient structure. They were barely 10 feet away. On enquiry we came to know that the structures were museums which would display some artifacts which are presently in the Kolkata and Malda museum. Sadly the structures of the museums don’t blend with the original ancient architecture.

Note:

  • The Nandadirghi Vihar at Jagjibanpur was part of a Gour Pandua tour which also included visit to the Nimasarai Minar
  • For a tour of Gour Pandua, along with Nimasarai Minar and Nandadirghi Vihar, contact Chandramouli Thakur of Miles Tourism at 9830009964
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