Ancient Bhismaknagar Fort lying on tatters

By Pradeep Kumar

ITANAGAR, Feb 26: Important ancient archeological site –  Bhismaknagar Fort -, located 29-km from Lower Dibang Valley district HQs Roing is lying in shambles so also the nearby tourist lodge.

The Fort adorned with pottery was built with clay bricks by Vidarbha King Bhismak in 8th century BC and was the site of Chutiya Kingdom who had ruled the area during 12th to 16th century. Bhismaka was the vassal of King Jarasandha of Magadha.

The site was a stronghold of the Chutias. Bhismaknagar has been identified with Sadhayapuri (or Svadhayapuri), the political centre of Chutia Kingdom. Based on inscription of bricks, it is assumed to be capital of Chutia king Lakṣmīnārāyaṇa of early 15th century. Bhismaka was vassal of King Jarasandha of Magadha. The paleographical analysis of the inscription supports this dating.

Bhismaknagar central complex extended over an area of 1860 square meters and displays three halls, six ingresses and two extension rooms. There is also a two-meter high stone wall inside the complex. The architecture of the fort displays the medieval culture. While quarrying the fort the enormous pieces of work of art like potteries, terracotta figurines, terracotta plaques and decorative tiles were preserved.

Princes Rukmini, daughter of King Bismak, had fallen in love with Lord Krishna for his virtue, character, charm and greatness. Rukmini’s parents wanted to marry Rukmini to Krishna but her ambitious brother prince Rukmi, strongly opposed and proposed her marriage to his friend Shishupala,  crown prince of Chedi, a close associate of ruthless Emperor Jarasandha and hence an ally of Rukmi.

Krishna eloped Rukimini in his chariot to his kingdom Dwarka in Gujarat, according to Mahabharat and Puranas. However, Rukmi had chased and fought with Krishna to be defeated. Krishna had spared his life at the plea of Rukmini, but as punishment had shaved his head as a visible sign of defeat. Rukmini, known as principal wife and queen of Lord Krishna, is in true sense is the daughter of Arunachal Pradesh. Thus, Bhismknagar draws lot of tourists and researchers from far and wide.

“Regrettably, the lodge is ravaged and every window, door, ceiling and other well designed wooden and RCC shelf are ransacked and left abandoned for last 15 years. The secluded site is well connected with double lane road, if the lodge is renovated would offer solace to the visitors”, a local resident said.

The much hype of tourism promotion policy of this hilly state is only in paper and physical infrastructures are in poor shape. Many tourist lodges build in interior pockets of Arunachal Pradesh are crying for attention, most of which are abandoned, dilapidated or in miserable shape.

Eastern Arunachal with double lane highway (National Highway-13) has generated tremendous scope for growth of tourism but unfortunately the once well built lodge lying abandoned is proof of the ineffective policy. Thus, this historic Bhismaknagar site needs better upkeep and should be well maintained along with the tourist lodge.

“Visit to Bhismanagar reminds the historic Ahom run in the foothills, but each time I go I end up coming back to home less satisfied and more disturbed because of lack of better maintenance of these valuable assets. The Govt should act seriously to promote and preserve historic sites, which has tremendous scope for growth of tourism”, one of the tourists said.

Meanwhile, another tourist lodge in the same district near Barogollai beyond Mayudia is also rotting.

On 21.09.17, Mumbai-based Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Speech and Hearing Disabilities’ NE nodal officer Prof Ranjit Bhattacharya and Kolkata-based lecturer Anupam Das and professional counsellor Pallas Dutta along with NYP president H P Biswas had visited the fort had visited the fort but were aghast at the prevailing condition of the heritage site.

Overgrown bushes block the entrance gate and the structures of the fort, a symbol of past glory and indicating the high standard of civilization, were covered by grasses reflecting total negligence, they rued.

When tourists have been attracted to the site because of its historical and mythological relevance, it is the bounden duty of those who matter to maintain the site for state’s tourism sector to flourish, they remarked.

Indeed, a mythological tale floats around the lands inhabited by the Idu Mishmi tribe that claims to be associated with the Krishna-Rukmini legend. Hindu mythological traditions are far more complicated and deep rooted. (With inputs from Bishnu Rana)

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