Karnasubarna (Kie-lo-na-su-fa-la-na) কর্ণসুবর্ণ (কি-এ-লো-ন-সু-ফা-লা-না)
In 1962-63, Dr. Sudhir Ranjan Das (former Professor and Head of the Department of Archaeology, Calcutta University) found unprecedented result after excavating a small part of a site at Rajbari Danga (রাজবাড়ীডাঙ্গা), in Rangamati Gram Panchayat, Murshidabad, measuring more or less 100 feet x 100 feet and found the ruins of the said famous Rakta-mrittikā Mahavihara (রক্তমৃত্তিকা মহাবিহার) and ended the long drawn speculation of the historians regarding identification of the Rakta-mrittikā Mahavihara and the capital city of Karnasubarna from where Shashanka (শশাঙ্ক), the first recorded historical ruler said to be credited with the introduction of the Bengali Calendar (Bangabda) on and from Monday the 12th April, 593 AD. Monday was selected because it corresponds to the day, dedicated to Lord Siva and King Shashanka was a devout Shaiva.

Karnasubarna (কর্ণসুবর্ণ) had all potentiality of becoming a place of attraction to the merchants, religious missionaries, explorers and ambitious political fortune makers. Surrounded by high mounds as well as fertile soil, Karnasubarna got the favour of great river like Bhagirathi which provided navigability and other amenities required for the growth of the Capital city. In such way eastern region of India has been colonized. It is clearly proved form the discovery of a stone plaque of the 4th century AD from a Buddhist temple in Malay peninsula that Buddhism was well established in Karnasubarna at least before the 4th century AD.

go top

Karnasubarna :: Hiuen Tsang's Account

Hiuen Tsang (হিউয়েন সাং) came in India in 629 AD. He visited the sacred Buddhist sites in Magadha and spent much time studying at the great Nalanda monastery. The Pilgrim next travelled to parts of Bengal (western, northern and southeastern) and then to South and West India. On his return to China in 645 AD Hiuen Tsang retired to a monastery and devoted his energy to translating Buddhist texts until his death in 664 AD.

Hiuen Tsang visited Karnasubarna or Kie-lo-na-su-fa-la-na[1] during the reign of Harshavardhana the king of Thaneshwar, which is referred in his biography Da Tang Xiyu Ji or Da Tang Hsi-yu Chi ("Records of the Western Regions of the Great Tang Dynasty"). According to the pilgrim, he moved from Tan-mo-lih-ti (te) (Tamralipti তাম্রলিপ্ত) to the country of Kie-lo-na-su-fa-la-na (Karnasubarna), and saw the existence of a monastery known as Lo-to-no-chi or Lo-to-wi-ti (লো-টো-মো-চি বা লো-টো-বি-তি) the Rakta-mrittikā Mahavihara (রক্তমৃত্তিকা মহাবিহার), which was described as a magnificent and famous establishment, the resort of illustrious brethren. The halls of which was spacious and the storied towers were lofty. In this establishment congregated all the most distinguished, learned and celebrated men of the kingdom. A glimpse of the religious life of Karnasubarna can be guessed from the writings of Hiuen Tsang. People belonging to different religions lived there. That Buddhism was in a flourishing state is amply evident from the magnificent and famous Rakta-mrittikā Mahavihara situated in its neighbourhood. From Hiuen Tsang we also learn that Buddhists of the Sammatiya School (Ching-tiang-pu School) mainly resided in the ten monasteries at Karnasubarna. Apart from the monasteries there were also fifty temples. He also mentioned about a Stupa built by Ashoka[2]. When Tathâgata (Buddha) was alive he preached here for seven days, explaining the law and guiding men. There were several other stupas in places where Buddha preached.

Hiuen Tsang gives a graphic description of Karnasubarna, which acquaints us with the locality and its people. According to him "This kingdom was about 1400 or 1500 li in circuit; the capital was about 20 li....... the country was well inhabited and the people were very rich. The land was low and moist, farming operations were regular, flowers and fruits were abundant, the climate was temperate and the people were of good character and were patrons of learning". This description indicates the flourishing state of the country.

Karnasubarna was famous as a prosperous politico-administrative, military and religious urban centre. Its fame was however short lived. It came into prominence with the rise of Shashanka in the early part of the 7th century AD and passed into oblivion by the end of that very century.

Xuanzang's (Hiuen Tsang) :: Travel from China to India and return

Download Hiuen Tsang's Route Map :: hiuen-tsang-route-map.pdf
go top

Karnasubarna :: Spread of Buddhism

In the early decades of Buddhism the wandering monks of the Sangha, dedicated to asceticism and the monastic life, had no fixed abode. During the rainy season they stayed in temporary shelters. These dwellings were simple wooden constructions or thatched bamboo huts. However, as it was considered an act of merit not only to feed a monk but also to shelter him, splendid monasteries were created by rich lay devotees. "The wealth specially of the rich merchantile community, a large percentage of whom formed the class of lay disciples, was utilized in erecting Buddhist edifices. Every pious Buddhist tried to contribute whatever he could; the poor came forward with their offer of skill and labour; thus grew up a large number of Buddhist monuments". [ Buddhist monuments - By Debala Mitra (1971) ]

The monasteries were located near settlements, close enough for begging alms from the population but with enough solitude for undisturbed meditation. Trade routes were therefore ideal locations for a vihara and donations from wealthy traders increased their economic strength. From the first century AD onwards viharas also developed into educational institutions, due to the increasing demands for teaching in Mahayana Buddhism. Buddhism had spread to this region during the Maurya king Ashoka. When Hiuen Tsang visited Karnasubarna he mentioned about a stupa built by Ashoka. "As vinaya texts are generally believed to have preserved traditions of pre-Asokan days, these passages may be taken to indicate that Buddhism had probably obtained a footing in North Bengal even before Asoka's time. The great missionary activity of Asoka and the traditions about him recorded in the Divyāvadāna and also by Hiuen Tsang, make it highly probable that Buddhism was not unknown in Bengal during the reign of that great emperor". [ Dr. Ramesh Chandra Majumdar রমেশ চন্দ্র মজুমদার ]

go top

Karnasubarna :: Trading Metropolis

Ruins of shrines exist in the region round Takua Pa, south of Thiland, which has been identified with Ptolemy's Takkola. Oposite of Takua Pa, on the eastern coast, round the Bay of Bandon are the remains of early settlements, specially in the three well known sites Caiya, Nakhon Sri Dhammarat, and Vieng Sra. The inscriptions found at Ligor and Takua Pa, and the Sanskrit inscription on a pillar at Caiya show that these settlements sould not be before the 4th or 5th century AD. A large number of inscriptions have been discovered in different parts of the country. They are written in Sanskrit and in Indian alphabets of about the 4th or 5th century AD. Two of them reproduce a well-known formula of the Buddhist creed, and this proves the spread of Buddhism in that region. One of these inscriptions refers to the "captiain (Mahānāvika, the great sailor) Buddhagupta, an inhabitant of Rakta-mrittikā". The presence of a master mariner or captain of a large ship, hailing from Rakta-mrittikā, in the Malay Peninsula suggests maritime trade links between Bengal and Southeast Asia. It is significant that the Chiruti region adjacent to the Bhagirathi, which could have served as one of the channels of maritime trade.

From the Chandi-mangal kavya (চন্ডীমঙ্গল কাব্য) of Mukundarām Cakravartī in the 15th-16th century, we come to know that though Karnasubarna lost its political importance trading still continued in this region. The kingdom of Ujjaini or Ujani (উজানি) existed at the confluence of river Ajay and Bhagirathi, south of Karnasubarna (present Katwa কাটোয়া, Ketugram কেতুগ্রাম, Mangalkot মঙ্গলকোট area). Dhanapati (character of Mangal-Kavya), a trader by profession stayed at Golahat village of Ujjaini. Dhanapati and later his son Srimanta both carried out trade with Ceylon. From Chandi-mangal kavya we get the names of Golahat গোলাহাট, Patan bil পাটন বিল, Bhandardaha bil ভান্ডার দহের বিল etc. which are all located near by Karnasubarna. In the Chandi-mangal Kavya Karnasubarna is referred as Karnapur (কর্নপুর). Trade from Karnasubarna was carried out through land and water to Ceylon, South East Asia, Egypt, Greece, Rome and China.

Based on Mahabharata evidence, the ancient kingdom of the Anga (অঙ্গ) which roughly corresponded to the region of Bhagalpur, Banka and Monghyr in Bihar, later extended to include parts of Bengal. The capital of Anga was Champa (চম্পা) which was located on the right bank of river Ganges near its junction with river Champa (modern Chandan). Champa was noted for its wealth and commerce. It was also a great center of trade and commerce and its merchants regularly sailed to distant Suvarnabhumi (the "Golden Land" or "Land of Gold", refers broadly to extensive region in Southeast Asia) for trading purposes. On their way to Suvarnabhumi they used to pass through the following areas of Kajangala (কজঙ্গল), Prachikot (প্রাচীকোট), Rangamati (রাঙামাটি), Golahat (গোলাহাট), Mangalkot (মঙ্গলকোট), Ujjaini or Ujani (উজানি). The names of these places can be found in the book Kayasthas Karika (কায়স্ত কারিকা) By Bengali scholar Nalu Panchanana (নালু পঞ্চানন), where he narrates the story of Chand Sadagar (চাঁদ সওদাগর) during the reign of King Adisur (700 - 900 AD) -
[English Translation]
গোলাহাট ডিহিগঞ্জ সুরম্য নগরী।
Golahat and Dihiganj were beautiful places
যাহা চাঁদ সদাগরের ব্যবসা নগরী।।
was Chand Sadagars trading place
জয়া দেবী নামে এক দেবী আরাধয়।
He used to worship goddess named Jayadevi (Durga)
মনসা দেবীর সহ বিবাদ কর‍য়।।
Because of which He came in conflict with goddess Manasa
তিন্তিড়ী বৃক্ষের মূলে দেবীর দেউল।
Under a Tamarind Tree is the Shrine of goddess
বহু বণিক পূজে দেবীকে মানে বণিককূল।।
Many Traders worship her and have faith in her
সেই চাঁদ সদাগর রাজার সমীপে।
Chand Sadagar went to the King (Adisur)
দেবী পূজা লাগি ভূমি মাঙ্গে ভূপে।।
and asked for land, for building temples of Jayadevi
এক শত ষাটী বিঘা দেবীর কারণ।
For the godesses one hundred and sixty bighas
ভূ-সম্পত্তি মহারাজ করিলেন দান।।
of land was donated by the King
সে ভূমির কর না লইবেন আপনি।
No tax will be recovered from the land (Devottar land)
ডিহির অন্তর্গত বিংশতি গ্রাম গণি।।
of Twenty villages within the area of Dihiganj
নবদুর্গা রাঙ্গাবলী করলা যসুরী।
Nabadurga, Rangaboli, Karla, Jashohari, (Village names)
চৌকী কাটনাদী উহাঁনি ভিতরি।।
Chowki, Katnadi within Dihiganj

There is a temple of Jaimongala at Nabadurga, Golahat village near Kandhi (30km from Berhampore), and it is beleived that it was built by Chand Sadagar. The villages which were given by King Adisur as Devottar land to Chand Sadagar, viz Nabadurga, Rangaboli, Karla, Jashohari, Chowki etc still exist today.

go top

Rajbari Danga :: Excavation (রাজবাড়ীডাঙ্গা), Jadupur

[ Image A ]
With a view to identifying Karnasubarna, the traditional capital city of Shashanka with its stupas, monasteries and other monuments mentioned by Hiuen Tsang, the Department of Archaeology, University of Calcutta, under Dr. S. R. Das, conducted excavation at Rajbari Danga at Jadupur, District Murshidabad in 1962-63 AD. The site lies at a distance of 2.4 Km from the Chiruti railway station. The excavation revealed five phases of structures [Image A]. Noteworthy among these were: remains of a platform, two circular basements (probably of a stupa) and lime plastered steps in Phase III and four square structures showing carved brickwork and having pradakshina patha etc.. in Phase V. The structural remains of Phases I and II were represented by brick pavements and those of Phase IV by a wall running over the circular basements of the preceding Phase.

The archaeological remains found from the excavated site of Rajbaridanga points to the fact that Karnasubarna was an urban centre. It is likely that a number of rural settlements like Gokarna, Mahalandi, Saktipur etc came into existence around the capital city to cater to the daily needs of its citizens. On the basis of terracotta sealings and figurines, Phase I could be assigned to circa 3rd-4th century and Phase III to 6th-7th century A.D. The two subsequent Phases belonged to circa 8th-12th century A.D. Some of the seals recovered from the excavation bore the Buddhist formula and point to the existence of a Buddhist monastery. The plan of the monastery was designed on an ancient pattern, i.e. rows of cells round a central courtyard.
The most significant clue to the identification of the famous Lo-to-no-chi or Lo-to-wi-ti (লো-টো-মো-চি বা লো-টো-বি-তি) the Rakta-mrittikā Mahavihara (রক্তমৃত্তিকা মহাবিহার), described by Hiuen Tsang to be situated in the suburbs of Karnasubarna, the capital of Gauda in the 7th century. is given by a sealing excavated from Phase III. This sealing bears the Dharmachakra Deer symbol on its upper register and two lines of inscription on the lower part.
Line 1: Shri - Rakta[m]rttika - (ma)havaiha Line 2: rik - arya - bhiksu -[sanga] s[y]a.
[This is the seal of the community of the noble monks of the Great Monastery at the illustrious Raktamrttika]
Another fragmentary sealing bears three lines of inscription on the lower register.
Line 1: Raktangrtti (kayam) Line 2: (vi)har(e) (Arya) Line 3: bhiksu.
It is important to note that the period of the sealings tallies with the period of the visit of Hiuen Tsang.

Beautiful stucco mouldings, terracotta lamps, two stucco heads belonging to the Gupta period and a copper chakra of circa 8th century A.D., terracotta figurines, including those of a votive nature and a female deity, constituted the other noteworthy finds. Amongst pottery, mention may be made of a few sherds of grey ware, painted in black, decorated ware showing such designs as crosses, triangles, wavy lines, cheques etc. and bottle-necked sprinklers. A few pieces of the Northern Black Polished Ware were also recovered from a pit, evidently out of any stratigraphical context. The history of the site encompasses three culture sequences, and, in terms of their characteristic, the sequence may be thus arranged ::

Period I : 'Characterized by the presence of plain and crude pottery and absence of inscribed seals'
(second-third to fourth-fifth century)
Period II : 'Rich cultural equipments distinguised by inscribed seals and other antiquities'
(fifth-sixth to ninth-tenth century)
Period III : 'Declining stage - marked off by the absence of seals'
(ninth-tenth to twelfth-thirteenth century)

Rajbari Danga Gallery

go top

Karnasubarna :: The Lost Kingdom

In the Vedic literature of Brahmanas and Aryankas of 800 to 600 BC, two countries viz. Anga and Vanga at the eastern part of India were mentioned. Anga was found to be at the east of Magadha and its capital was Champa (Near present Bhagalpur). During the Mahabharata period there Kingdoms like Gandhar, Madra, Bairat, Sindhu, Kasipa, Hastinapura, Indraprastha, Mathura, Panchala, Kasi, Koshal etc, and these Kingdoms were more or less independent. The similar ways Bengal as was also divided into many independent kingdoms like Dwar-Vanga, Pundra Vardhana, Karnasubarna (also known as Kan-sona কানসোনা, Karnabona Gadh কর্নবোনাগড় or Karna Gadh কর্নগড়), Gouda, Magadha, Radha, Samatata, Dandabhukti etc. Acording to Dr. Sudhir Ranjan Das (ডক্টর সুধীর রঞ্জন দাস) the urban city of Karnasubarna consisted of the following areas of Berhampore Sub-Division, Murshidabad District.
The urban city of Karnasubarna or Kan-sona (কানসোনা)
Sl Mouza JL No Area
1 Jadupur   (যদুপুর) 55 842.62 acres
2 Rangamati Chandpara   (রাঙামাটি চাঁদপাড়া) 50 219.24 acres
3 Pratappur Chandpara   (প্রতাপপুর চাঁদপাড়া) 59 258.75 acres
4 Chawk Chandpara   (চক চাঁদপাড়া) 58 78.19 acres
5 Chiruti   (চিরুটী) 49 280.42 acres
6 Sungai   (সুঙ্গাই) 61 677.18 acres
7 Samaskar   (সমস্কার) 60 565.17 acres
8 Majhira   (মাঝীরা) 29 536.99 acres
9 Char Khidirpur   (চর খিদিরপুর) 57 187.54 acres
10 Char Halalpur   (চর হালালপুর) 56 132.83 acres
11 Char Mahula   (চর মহুলা) 52 480.78 acres
12 Arazi Madhupur   (আরাজী মধুপুর) 31 1147.19 acres
13 Dabkai   (ডাবকাই) 32 208.75 acres
14 Kodla   (কোদলা) 33 836.24 acres
15 Arazi Chiruti   (আরাজী চিরুটী) 34 223.96 acres
16 Jagganathpur   (জগন্নাথপুর) 23 988.82 acres
17 Sahajadpur   (সাহজাদপুর) 24 812.01 acres
18 Bil Chowti   (বিল চৌটি) 28 279.97 acres
  T o t a l A r e a :   8774.65 acres or 35.5 sq Km

Rural area under Berhampore block consists of 17 gram panchayats, viz. 1) Bhakuri-I, 2) Haridasmati, 3) Niyallispara Goaljan, 4) Rangamati Chandpara, 5) Bhakuri-II, 6) Hatinagar, 7) Radharghat-II, 8) Chhaighari, 9) Madanpur, 10) Radharghat-I, 11) Satui Chaurigachha, 12) Daulatabad, 13) Manindranagar, 14) Rajdharpara, 15) Gurudaspur, 16) Naodapanur and 17) Sahajadpur. Urban area under this block consists of three towns: Cossimbazar, Goaljan and Gora Bazar. Berhampore Town and Daulatabad police stations serve this block. Headquarters of this block is in Berhampore, Murshidabad.
List of Villages :: Rangamati Chandpara Gram Panchayat
Sl Name
1 Majhira (Main Village)
2 Gobindapur
3 Arazi Madhupur
4 Dabkai
5 Kodla
6 Arazi Chhiruti
7 Chak Dangapara
8 Chiruti
9 Rangamati Chandpara
10 Pakamati Mahula
11 Char Mahula
12 Parhalalpur
13 Parkhidirpur
14 Jadupur
15 Char Halalpur
16 Char Khidirpur
17 Chak Chandpara

go top

Rakshashi Danga or Devil's Mound:: Excavation (রাক্ষসীডাঙা), Pratappur

This mound was discovered by K.N. Dixit in 1928-29 and was lying idle for 80 years, when on 22nd March, 2010, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the state's archaeological department started a joint excavation at Chandpara mouza in Pratappur village.

Rakshashi Danga রাক্ষসীডাঙা is surrounded by Sanyasi Danga সন্ন্যাসীডাঙা, Rajbari Danga রাজবাড়ীডাঙ্গা, Bhimki Tala ভীমকিতলা and Nilkuthi Mound. This mound is 4.5 metres higher than Rajbari Danga which is nearby. Several wall segments forming three-room units that measure about 10m x 8m each, a narrow passage and signs of an entrance have been uncovered. The bricks used here are hand-made, about 30-36 cm long, 26 cm wide and 5-6 cm thick, such as those used in the pre-Pala era. Some of the bricks are decorated. Excavation revealed a rich haul of dull red pottery, small clay pots, objects of shell, a clay seal, pieces of stucco and lamps. The pottery fragments are home utensils like woks and bowls. Utensils for daily use made of iron and copper have also been found. Burnt clay horses, elephants and peacocks have been found here too. The clay seal found here contains inscriptions resembling that of the 3rd Century Brahmi script. According to Susmita Basu Majumdar, of Department of Ancient Indian History & Culture (Calcutta University), this Seal dates back to 7th Century and was not a Royal seal.

From Rakshashi danga three idol heads were found. According to archaeologists these were not part of any other idol, they were worshipped by the people as idol heads itself. According to Sri Amal Roy, the superintendent of the state archaeology department team "It is not yet known whether these heads are of any deity or not... Since the site is very near to Karnasubarna, the Capital city of Shashanka, this place may be a part of the 7th century Karnasubarna metropolis. "The objects resemble the finds at Deka. Taken together the area could grow into a tourist hotspot once we manage to uncover it fully"-- Amal Roy. (The Deka site is 35 km from Rakshashi Danga site and dates back to 6th Century)

Rakshashi Danga Gallery

go top

How to Reach

Located on the Katawa - Azimganj rail line, Karnasubarna is best reached via Berhampore. It is best to take a local bus to Khagra Ghat Station, followed by a local train ride to Karnasubarna (earlier Chiruti চিরুটী) Station.
 By Road : One can also hire a car and take the route from Berhampore Uttar Para more (turn left) Jadupur More.
Berhampore Bus stand to Uttar Para more - 2 Km
Uttar Para moreto Jadupur more - 9.8 Km
 By Rail : Berhampore Bus stand Khagraghat Station Karnasubarna Station (Chiruti) Rajbari Danga.
Berhampore Bus stand to Khagraghat Station - 4.5 Km
Khagraghat Station to Karnasubarna Station (Chiruti) - 11 Km
Karnasubarna Station (Chiruti) to Rajbari Danga - 2.4 Km.

[Location Map : 24°01'35"N 88°10'40"E].
Download Route Map :: karnasubarna-map.pdf
References :
  • [1] Kie-lo-na-su-fa-la-na : In Chinese. Kin 'rh, "gold-ear" The town of Rangamati north of Murshidabad, stands on the site of an old city called Kurusona-ka-gadh, supposed to be a Bengali corruption of the name in the text. Back
    [ Si-Yu-Ki: Buddhist Records of the Western World, by Hiuen Tsiang, translated by Samuel Beal 1825-1889 ]
  • [2] "To the south-east of the great city 6 or 7 li, on the south side of the Ganges, is a stupa about 200 feet in height, built by Asoka-raja. When in the world, Tathâgata in this place preached for six months on the impermanency of the body (anatma), on sorrow (dukha), on unreality (anitya), and impurity.... Moreover there is a little stupa, containing the hair and nails of Tathâgata. If a sick person with sincere faith walks round this he obtains immediate recovery and increase of religious merit". Back
    [ Si-Yu-Ki: Buddhist Records of the Western World, by Hiuen Tsiang, translated by Samuel Beal 1825-1889 ]
  • Bengal District Gazetteers, Murshidabad - By L.S.S. O'Malley (1914)
  • Si-yu-ki, Buddhist records of the Western world (1884) - By Hsuan-tsang ca.596-664 translated By Samuel Beal 1825-1889.
  • Studying Early India: Archaeology, Texts and Historical Issues - By Brajadulal Chattopadhyaya
  • Indian Archaeology - 1962-63 A Review, Edited by A Ghosh, Director General of Archaeology in India
  • The literature of Bengal - By Romesh Chunder Dutt (1895)
  • Buddhist monuments - By Debala Mitra (1971)
  • History Of Bengali Language And Literature (1911) - By Dinesh Chandra Sen

Page Updated : September 29, 2012 03:59 am