Chandraketugarh, a Lost Civilization, is a n archaeological site located beside the Bidyadhari River, about 35kms north-east of Kolkota, in the District of North 24 Parganas, near the township of Berachampa and the Haroa Road rail-head.
It is a fascinating place where a bustling town from the days of Emperor Asoka is buried under the present-day rice fields and village cottages. If you visit the place, you won’t see much at first. But, if you look down on the ground you are walking on, you’ll see something unusual. The ground appears strewn with a variety of ‘potsherds’. In fact, whenever the ground, at Chandraketugarh, is dug to build a house or to dig a pond, a variety of elegant and sophisticated artifacts is routinely unearthed.
All available information, points to a ‘mature civilization’ centred around a busy port, which started flourishing in this area more than 2,000 years ago. Indeed, it is thought to belong to the kingdom of a ‘mighty ruler’, of whom Alexander the Great was familiar.
Plutarch wrote about a powerful tribe called “Gangadirae” (Chandrakerugarh was known by this name to ancient Greek & Roman writers), living near a prosperous port “Gange” in the Gangetic Delta. From geographical descriptions, Chandraketugarh area can be linked to this port.
The inhabitants of Chandraketugarh achieved spectacular artistic refinement and created arty facts of exquisite beauty. Influence of foreign art raises intriguing questions. Years of excavation have revealed relics of several historical periods, although the chronological classification of the relics remain incomplete. The relics point to a rich cultural and social life. Finds include Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW) relics, later wares dated from about 400 BC to 100 BC and approximately contemporary with the Mauryan Period as well as from the more recent Kushanas and Gupta periods.
On a country road, at a place called Berachampa (the site of Chandraketugarh) about 38km north-east of Kolkota, we can see unassuming mounds of the kind we see everywhere in India. But these are no simple mounds. Buried under these mounds are the fortified ramparts of an ancient community ——– the fort of King Chandraketu.
There is no written record of this civilization. More mysterious is the fact that it vanished leaving no social memory in the surrounding area, other than some local myths. Yet, there is no doubt that the civilization reached a very high level of sophistication evidenced by the enormous amount of arty facts it is still routinely generating. WHY DID IT VANISH WITHOUT A TRACE ?