Ancient Archeological Site of Noapara-Ishanchandranagar

The archeological site of Noapara-Ishanchandranagar, located around three kilometers north of Chauddagram in the Comilla District of Bangladesh, is believed by some scholars to be the lost city of Karmanta Vasaka – the seat of the Buddhist Khadga dynasty in the 7th century Kingdom of Samatata. The site covers an area of over nine square kilometers on either side of the highway which connects Dhaka and Chittagong. The ancient Buddhist stupas found in the area support the viewpoint that this was once the center of Buddhist religious activity.

To the west of the highway is the Noapara village, which is smaller in size, while to the east, the site encompasses three villages – Rangamatia, Rajendrapur and Ishanchandranagar. To the east of the site is the border between Bangladesh and India’s state of Tripura. Located on raised mounds of compacted soil, the villages contain evidence of ancient ruins with heaps of bricks and debris found in numerous places. While it is believed that the ruins of a palace and administrative complex are buried in the area, this has remained unexcavated and what may actually lie there is a matter of speculation.

Two large Buddhist stupas in Noapara have been left to the mercies of the elements and are in a derelict condition, with dense vegetation partly covering them. Archeological excavations in 1988 uncovered many terracotta tiles covering its walls, which bear a strong resemblance to those found at Shalvan Vihara at Mainamati in Comilla – a Buddhist site which is better preserved and a popular tourist attraction. The stupa area is referred to as Bardhan or Bhajan Mura and is closely associated with the legendary king of the Comilla region, Bhavachandra.

A waterlogged sunken area lying to the west of Noapara is believed to have been an ancient river, which likely served as a natural border between kingdoms at the time. Local legends suggest that there is a palace and capital city in the area. As archeological activity in the area has been limited, this can neither be proven, nor disputed.

The northernmost village of the Noapara-Ishanchandranagar archeological site, Rangamatia, was mentioned three times as an ancient kingdom in the history of Tripura, Rajamala by Kailash Chandra Singha, and although the precise location has not been described, the document indicates that it was locate east of the Kamalanka Kingdom.

A recent a widening of the road reportedly saw the demolishment of a 300-year old Hindu matha, while in Noapara an ancient stupa was demolished to build a community health center, and so as development takes place in this region of Bangladesh, ancient history must give way to progress.