|Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)|
Bangladesh , with capital at Dhaka, is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma (Myanmar) to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south. Together with the Indian state of West Bengal, it makes up the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. The name Bangladesh means "Country of Bengal" in the official Bengali language. The borders of present-day Bangladesh were established with the partition of Bengal and India in 1947, when the region became the eastern wing of the newly formed Pakistan, when it was called East Pakistan. However, it was separated from the western wing by 1,600 km (994 mi) of Indian territory. Political and linguistic discrimination as well as economic neglect led to popular agitations against West Pakistan, which led to the war for independence in 1971 and the establishment of Bangladesh.
- 1 History
- 2 बंगाल
- 3 वंग = बंग
- 4 Ancient Settlements in Bangladesh
- 5 Information in Gupta Inscriptions
- 6 Rajshahi District
- 6.1 Dhanaidaha copper-plate inscription of Kumaragupta I G.E.113. (AD 432)
- 6.2 Population structure and land lay-out
- 6.3 Kalaikuri – Sultanpur grant of Gupta year 120 (440 AD)
- 6.4 Jagadishpur Copperplate of Gupta year 128 (447 AD)
- 6.5 Paharpur Copper-plate Inscription of the Gupta Year 159 (=A.D. 478)
- 7 Dinajpur District
- 7.1 Damodarpur Copper-plate Inscription of the time of Kumaragupta I Gupta Year 124 (=A.D. 443)
- 7.2 Damodarpur Copper-plate Inscription of the time of Kumaragupta I Gupta Year 128
- 7.3 Damodarpur Copper-plate Inscription of the time of Budhagupta Gupta Year 163 (=A.D.482)
- 7.4 Damodarpur Copper-plate Inscription of the time of Budhagupta (=A.D. 476-94)
- 7.5 Damodarpur Copper-plate Inscription of the Gupta Year 224 (= A.D. 543)
- 7.6 Madanapala inscription of 2nd regnal year (1155 AD)
- 7.7 Madanapala inscription of 32nd regnal year (1185 AD)
- 8 Baigram Copper-plate Inscription of the Gupta Year 128 (=A.D. 439)
- 9 Mahasthan stone plaque Inscription
- 10 Khalimpur Copper plate of Dharmapala
- 11 The provenance of the Khalimpur
- 12 Topics of historical importance
- 13 List of rivers of Bangladesh
- 14 References
- 15 Further reading
The exact origin of the word "Bangla" or "Bengal" is unknown, though it is believed to be derived from Banga, the Dravidian-speaking tribe that settled in the area around the year 1000 BC. The kingdom of Gangaridai was formed from at least the seventh century BC, which later united with Bihar under the Magadha, Nanda, Mauryan and Sunga Empires. Bengal was later part of the Gupta Empire and Harsha Empire from the third to the sixth centuries CE. Following its collapse, a dynamic Bengali named Shashanka founded an impressive yet short-lived kingdom. Shashanka is considered the first independent king in the history of Bangladesh. After a period of anarchy, the Buddhist Pala dynasty ruled the region for four hundred years, followed by a shorter reign of the Hindu Sena dynasty. Islam was introduced to Bengal in the twelfth century by Arab Muslim merchants and Sufi missionaries, and subsequent Muslim conquests helped spread Islam throughout the region.
विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर ने लेख किया है .....बंगाल (AS, p.599): किंवदंती में इस देश के नामकरण का आधार इस प्रकार बताया जाता है कि [p.600]: प्राचीन काल में पद्मा नदी के दक्षिण में स्थित और हुगली और गंगा की दूसरी शाखा मधुमति के बीच के भाग को बंग या बंगा कहते थे क्योंकि यह भूभाग राजा बलि के पुत्र बंग के अधिकार में था. हुगली के ठीक पश्चिम के प्रदेश को लाहा कहा जाता था. कुछ काल पश्चात् इन्हीं दोनों भागों बंगा लाहा का नाम बंगाल हो गया (देखें बंग)
वंग = बंग
विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर ने लेख किया है .....वंग (AS, p.827) या 'बंग' बंगाल का प्राचीन नाम है। महाभारत में वंग नरेश पर पाण्डव भीम की चढ़ाई का उल्लेख है- 'उभौ बलभृतौ वीराबुभौतीव्रपराक्रमौ निजित्याजौ महाराज बंगराजमुपाद्रवत।'महाभारत, सभापर्व 30, 23. बंग निवासियों के युधिष्ठिर के राजसूय यज्ञ में कलिंग और मगध के लोगों के साथ आगमन का वर्णन महाभारत सभापर्व 52, 18 में इस प्रकार है- 'वंगाः कलिंगा मगधास्ताम्रलिप्ताः संपुड्रकाः दौवालिका: सागरकाः पत्रौर्णाः शैशवास्तथा।'
कालिदास ने रघु की दिग्विजय यात्रा के दौरान वंग निवासियों का युद्ध में परास्त होने का वर्णन किया है- 'वंगा नुत्खाव तरसा नेता नौसाधनोद्यतान् निचखान जयस्तंभान्गंगास्त्रोतोन्तरेषु सः।' अर्थात "रघु ने अनेक नौकाओं के साधन से संपन्न बंग निवासियों को बलात् विस्थापित करके गंगा के स्त्रोतो के बीच विजय स्तंभ गढ़वाये।"
महरौली के लौह स्तंभ पर 'चंद्र' नामक नरेश के अभिलेख में उसकी विजय का विस्तार बंग देश तक बताया गया है- 'स्योद्वर्तयत: प्रतीपमुरसा शत्रून् सवेत्यागतान, वंगेष्वाहववर्तिनोस भिलिखिता खड्गेनकीर्तिर्भजे...।' (नई खोजो के अनुसार इस अभिलेख का वंग शायद सिंध देश का एक भाग था।) प्राचीन काल में बंग सामान्य रूप से पूरे बंगाल का नाम था, किंतु कभी-कभी यह शब्द केवल पूर्वी बंगाल के लिए ही प्रयोग होता था।
'माधवचंचू' में बंग और गौड़ भिन्न प्रदेश माने गए हैं। सुह्य पश्चिमी-दक्षिणी बंगाल (राजधानी ताम्रलिप्ति) और समतट 'बंगाल की खाड़ी' के तटवर्ती प्रदेश का नाम था। 'राढ़' या 'राढ़ी' भी बंगाल का एक भाग ( बर्दवान कमिश्नरी) था।
'पुंड्र' गंगा की मुख्य धारा (ब्रह्मपुत्र-गंगा की संयुक्त धारा) के उत्तर में स्थित प्रदेश का नाम था। डाउसन (देखें क्लासिकल डिक्शनरी) के अनुसार प्राचीन काल में बंग भागीरथी के उत्तर में स्थित भाग का नाम था, जिसमें जैसोर और कृष्णनगर के ज़िले सम्मिलित थे। जैन साहित्य में बंग का कई स्थानों पर उल्लेख है। 'प्रज्ञापणा सूत्र' में बंग को अंग के साथ ही आर्यजनों का श्रेष्ठ स्थान बताया गया है।
Ancient Settlements in Bangladesh
If we look at the map of West Bengal, the sites yielding evidence for the emergence of a Chalcolithic–NBPW overlap phase can be seen to form clusters in the Birbhum, Bankura and Burdwan districts, south of the Varendra region– where Mahasthan and Bangarh would rise in the subsequent times as urban centers under the early Maurya rule. Although not substantial in number, these are signifiers of an emerging farming culture in Lower Ganga plains in the chalcolithic–iron phase of culture.
The dawn of early historical phase in Lower Ganga–Brahmaputra valley, comprising present West Bengal, Bangladesh and parts of Assam, is rather more obscure than it is in the Middle Ganga plains. The process began at least three hundred years later than that in the Mid–Ganga plains. The period therefore coincides rather with the rise of the Maurya rule, which probably extended to this region.
A continuity of settlements in certain sites hints at cultural evolution in the broad region we are discussing here, for example, at the two sites of Mangalkot and Pakhanna: At Mangalkot  in Katwa, Bardhaman (Burdwan District, cultural sequences spread from the Chalcolithic to the medieval times. Mangalkot is located on the banks of the Ajay river, a tributary of Bhagirathi. As such the Ajay–Kunoor rivers are significantly connected with the riverine communication network of eastern India. Brick structure comes from the Kushana period (1st - 3rd C. AD) onwards. More significantly, Mangalkot flares up into an urban settlement in the Sunga–Kushan phase. A continuity of cultural progress is not suggested here. However, the cluster of sites in the region, the rise of an urban node in this Radha region do signify a historical trend.
The cluster of sites that converge in the Radha region also include the Bankura sites, among whom, Pakhanna has been identified as having acquired urban dimensions along with Mangalkot. Situated near Susunia, on the south bank of Damodar river, Pakhanna witnessed the unfolding of chalcolithic village culture to urban culture of early historic period. B.D. Chattopadhyay has suggested that the pre–Gupta and early Gupta contexts in Pakhanna had a variety of antiquities, which may justify the site’s description as a modest urban centre in this temporal context.  These sites tell us about the possible transition of life from the simple village farming to trade–orientation and urbanity in some parts of the broad region of ancient Bengal.
In case of lower Ganga valley and the Brahmaputra Delta region, (ancient Bengal) trends of urbanity and even cultural efflorescence or political organizations in terms of ‘state’ formation took a little time longer to happen than the Middle Ganga plains, where urban experience began to grow momentum from the 6th century BC onwards. Evidence from Mahasthangarh, as well as Mangalkot reveals that it would be more reasonable to assume that such developments took place from the 3rd Century B.C. onwards. Moreover, the exact chronology is often difficult to make in case of the individual sites of West Bengal. But excavations at Bangarh and Mahasthan (Pundravardhan) revealed better chronological span. Urban centres of Mahasthan and the other sites like Chandraketugarh, Tamralipta, and Bangarh indicate pre-urban to urban settlements in early historic Bengal. The typical elements associated with the broader Early Historical Ganga Valley culture in the form of coins, terracotta art and the ceramics, especially the Northern Black Polished Ware, can be found here too. However, some traits indicate a certain individuality born out of indigenous expressions in the Lower Ganga – Brahmaputra region that we are discussing here. In case of most of the sites in Lower Ganga Valley a general upward trend in material culture begins notably with the Maurya period, where identified; and prosperity affected the society in a big way in the next phase i.e., the Sunga – Kushana phase. So it may be suggested that between the 3rd and the 1st centuries BC farming rural settlements had flourished in those regions where, in the Sunga Kushana times we note the rise of semi – urban or urban sites.
Chandraketugarh in North 24 Parganas, Tamralipta and Natshal in Medinipur, identified as nodal settlements in the deltaic region, attest to the rise of commerce and a rich material culture from the Sunga–Kushan times onwards, many of which sprang in the Gupta period. Clusters of sites in this sub-region comprising of the explored sites like Harinarayanpur, Boral, Atghara-Baishhata, Mahinagar, Hariharpur and others in South 24 Parganas and Panna in Medinipur, may actually indicate a proliferation of settlements with rising demographic and economic trends, associated with cultural and commercial growth with possible links to the genesis of administrative and commercial centres in the Lower Ganga plains in the early historical times. Wari Bateshwar in the Narsingdi District of Bangladesh could be taken to be an extension of this chain of pattern.
However, to understand this phenomenon of growth we have to take regional surveys at micro levels – district or thana being taken as units to explore the settlement pattern and other associated physical features.
The crux of the matter is that we should look for the hinterland support system, or the rural network/ cluster of sites within the pattern of which the urban centers developed. For this we have to explore the neighborhoods of such nodal sites like Mahasthangarh, Bangarh in northern Bengal, and the sites like Chandraketugarh or Pakhanna and Mangalkot in the Radha-Vanga region.
Information in Gupta Inscriptions
The Varendra region is particularly rich in early historic evidence, both in the form of sites with structural features as well as other historical information in the nature of inscriptions and literary references. In this article we are especially relating to the history of the Varendra region from the evidence of inscriptions and settlement archaeology to understand the trends of land use and material development throughout the early historical and early medieval times.
Recent explorations works in the Bogra and Malda districts throw some light on the settlement pattern in the Varendra region as we shall mention later in this paper. Moreover, it is easier to explore the possibilities of conducting studies on the settlement and land use paradigms of the early historical phase for Varendri especially since the archaeological evidence is rich. The ancient city of Pundranagara known from literature was located here and later the region evidently formed the core of the ancient administrative unit of Pundravardhana. In the absence of further historical data we may fall back upon the Bengal inscriptions of the Gupta period, which throw some light on the local life. Here we are restricting the discussion to the four districts that formed the core of the Pundravardhana Bhukti: Rajshahi, Bogura, Dinajpur and Malda.
We begin with the earliest inscription of the Gupta period. Since this comes from the Rajshahi District, we are going to first cover all the inscriptions from the same District in a chronological order so that a regional picture may be got.
Dhanaidaha copper-plate inscription of Kumaragupta I G.E.113. (AD 432)
Dhanāidaha inscription of Yr. 113 (432 – 33 AD) refers to Visaya Khada in Pundravardhana Bhukti.  The headquarters of the Visaya seems to have been in Pancanagari, situated in Pundravardhana Bhukti. 
The record is from the Natore Division of Rajshahi District and is the earliest record available after Mahasthan lipi. The record is largely damaged. The name of the village is not clear. The language is Sanskrit and the script late Brahmi of northern class.  For the first timhttp://www.jatland.com/w/skins/common/images/button_bold.pnge in Bengal we have a reference to land measurement and the fact that land was being considred as a valued property - ksetra. According to D. C. Sircar, this inscription as well as the later Damodarpur inscriptions of 444 and 447 AD were “essentially sale–deeds and not records of free gifts. They record semi – gifts, the state land being sold at a reduced rate to Brahmanas, etc., who purchased it with religious motives. The land was probably rent – free.”  There are a few important assumptions here: that the land was state owned under the Gupta provincial administration; that it was being sold at a subsidized rate; and that the land was previously rent free under nividharma, which was now being annulled and sold out to the donor so that he/ they may donate the land to a brahmana.
The Dhanaidaha inscription of AD 432–33 says that an officer called Visnu mentioned some details about a plot of land to the ryats, Brahmanas, the Mahattaras, the astakuladhikarana and a few others,  implying that these popular units as well as gramikas and mahattaras had a voice in matters relating to the purchase, disposal and administration of lands in the villages.
Population structure and land lay-out
The record gives details of a land transfer where the population and the structure of local administration is involved. It appears that an ayuktaka official approached the Kutumbins, the brahmanas and the mahattaras and the gramastakuladhikarana since he desired to purchase one Kulyavapa of land by destroying the nivi– dharma (the non - transferability of it). The land was being purchased for the making of it into a grant for a Vedic Brahmana.
B.D. Chattopadhyaya  points out that two significant facts emerge from this inscription:
- a) That the gramastakuladhikarana was not an all-comprehensive village body since different other social groups are also mentioned – like the Kutumbins, brahmana and mahattaras. The individual belonging to these categories are mentioned by names.
- b) Consent for the alienation of land was sought at the local level, involving the presence and acquiescence of individuals from various rural groups.
The reference to the prativesi Kutumba is not given importance by Chattopadhyay.  But it has the significance if we are to understand the lay-out of the area where the land was being acquired for making the grant. Prativesi Kutumba here refers to a community of cultivators (according to Chattopadhyay himself) in the vicinity.
The third point made by Chattopadhyaya  is that there were two clear separable units in case of land use: Vastu or composite residential area and the Ksetra or the composite cultivation area within the defined village space.
The above data may be used to understand the land lay–out, man–land relationship as well as the structure of land organization in the vicinity of the already excavated archaeological sites.
In case of the Bengal sites it may be important to identify them within spatially defined zones and confining a site reckoning may not answer all our queries. Historical records like the above inscription supplies us with a modicum of an ancient zone, contemporary to the occupation period at the site being excavated. Moreover, the boundary of a site sometimes becomes fluid and even the size of the zone will vary depending on the mobility of the people and the range of contacts. So the landscape becomes important. The early historical inscriptions from Bengal afford a glimpse into the land–use pattern and hence a minute level survey could be attempted.
For this the space pattern has to be recognized taking in space use within given chrono–cultural paradigms:
The social use of space is patterned as:
Building up theories on:
a) The attrition of distance
b) Central places and polities.
Next comes the Kalaikuri – Sultanpur grant of Gupta year 120 (440 AD), discovered in the same district.  Dikshikar points out that the Śrngavera Vithi with its head quarter at Purnakausika was probably situated in Pundravardhana Bhukti. This grant was of 9 Kulyavapas of lands – 2 dronavapas of land were in village Gulmagandhika, seven Kulyavapas and six dronavapas were in Tapasapottaka and Dayitapottaka– (These two were in the Pravesya of Hastiśirsa) and in Citravatangara (in the Pravesya of Vibhitaka) and one Dronavapa of land was enclosed by an ancient moat, with the Vata river modern Bara-nai, a Tributary of Atrai, probably on the north and the borders of Gulmagandhika on the West.
The lands therefore may not have been a continuous field of cultivation. B.D. Chattopadhyay has seen in this grant the reflection  that:
- a) Villages were distinct with space occupied by villagers which were separate from the wider space in which the granted land was measured.
- b) Villages were not isolates. They were lying adjacent; or several villages were joined together for the purposes of fiscal assessment.  So the internal settlement structure were not dispersed but related to one another, both spatially and/ socially.
- c) All the villages came together on the occasion of the grant which the inscription records – (or rather the villagers, those canny or alert enough, were addressed by officials on the occasion of a grant).
So the above theory of a zonal understanding of the locus of a site comes in handy here, given the data available in the inscription. In this framework the social system is also important for the activity zone, for the settlement is defined by the socially understood space too. When the populations of adjacent villages have a socially/legally contiguous connectivity, the reading of the space use becomes complex and at the same time wider.
We have other important information throwing light on the pattern of land use and population. Scholars have put forward their readings of the value of land units mentioned in the Kalaikuri–Sultanpur Inscription. The exact measurement is not important. But the fact that a measurement was fixed and a value laid on this basis is significant and goes with the organization of land administration into growing categories like Visaya, Vithi, Pravesya.
- b) Structural features – ancient moat.
- c) Names of villages: Gulmagandhika, Tapaspottaka, Dayitapottaka, (these two linked with Hatisirsa), Citravatasigara (linked with Vibhitaka).
- d) Natural features – River Vata flowing to the north of the land on whose eastern border was the village Gulmagandhika. The moat was probably connected to the river.
- e) The term pravesya – no discussion on this is available. But it could mean that the vis-à-vis the two villages of Tapasapottaka and Dayitapottaka, the units of Hastisirsa was a bigger inlet – the former two being smaller units. According to V.R.R. Dikshitar, Pravesa and Prapa were “Small territorial divisions.” 
According to this inscription one Kulika Bhima and some other persons of the Srngavera Vithi who are described respectively as the kayasthas and pustapalas, requested the auyktaka and a number of other persons described as the vithi mahattaras and kutumbins to allow them to purchase specified pieces of uncultivated fallow land in these villages within the jurisdiction of the vithi at the rates prevalent in the area. The purpose was to grant the same as an aksayanivi to three Brahmanas who were well versed in the four vedas and belonged to the Vajasaney Carana with a view to enable them to perform their panca mahayajnas.  The inscription refers to the fact that the application for buying of land was referred to the Pustapalas for examination and report. When they reported that the application was in order and that the sale would not affect adversely the interests of the state, the Ayuktaka gave permission for the sale of the lands asked for. The rights of cultivators had to be kept intact.
Plans for explorations for site identification can include using data like the above.
Jagadishpur Copperplate of Gupta year 128 (447 AD)
It mentions the same officer (as in Kalaikuri inscription of 440-441 AD) Ayuktaka Acyutadasa. This time the communication comes from the Ayuktaka to the Chief (pradhana Kutumbins headed by brahmanas of the villages–brahmanadin– pradhana – Kutumbinah).
As B.D. Chattopadhyay points out  – the reference by personal names to the brahmanadi pradhana kutumbinah in association with the Vithi official and the adhikarana headed by him would suggest that they were active participants in transactions. But whereas seven years earlier the Kalaikuri plate refers to Vithi-Kulika, Kayastha and Pustapalas they are not referred in this inscription and as against eight Vithimahattara and 76 Kutumbi in Kalaikuri plate, only 4 Vithimahattaras and 28 Kutumbi are mentioned in Jagadishpur plate. We can draw the following hypotheses:
- (a) It may seem that smaller units had evolved, or
- (b) That there was a growing hierarchy among settlements concentrated in a few numbers.
- (c) The incidences of local participation were probably getting less.
Paharpur Copper-plate Inscription of the Gupta Year 159 (=A.D. 478)
The fourth important inscription of the period from the District is the one found at Paharpur.  This inscription was issued in the Gupta year 159 (479 AD), about 45 years later than the Dhanaidaha inscription.
The plate records the purchase and grant of a piece of land by a brahmana couple for the maintenance and the worship of Arhats and a resting place at the Vihara which was situated at Vatagohali in 5th century AD, under a Jaina teacher, Guhanandin. The Vihara, as suggested by Sircar, may have been a locally reputed establishment. The record mentions the Ayukatakas of Pundravardhana along with Nagarasreśthi and Puroga and the office of the city headquarters. Details of the units show a hierarchical zone of settlements, (of land administration/ settlement/ revenue collectorate?). Land was bought in Vata – Gohali, which is the lowest unit mentioned and which is located in Nitya Gohali attached to Mula Nagiratta Pravesya; land was also obtained from the lowest unit– the Prsthima Pottaka attached to Jambudeva Pravesya and Gosatamunjaka/ Gosatpuñjaka– all situated in the Palaśatta Parśva within the Nagiratta Mandala in the Daksinamśaka Vithi. According to Sircar, the Mula Nagiratta was the headquarters of Nagiratta Mandala. 
The pattern of administration might throw some light on the settlement question in terms of revenue assessment in the Gupta period and hence we may note the following facts obtained from this inscription: It mentions an administrative division called the Daksinamśaka Vithi in the Nagiratta mandala. V. R. R. Dikahitar  talks about the instance of this copper plate which, according to him indicates that if a city was also the District headquarters, probably its administration was carried on by the District Magistrate himself with the help of non-official District Council as in the case of the Kotivarsa Visaya of the Damodarpur Copper Plate. But as far as the evidence of Paharpur Copper Plate is concerned, it is indicated that if it was one other than the District Headquarters, its administration was carried out by a separate council.
It would be useful to observe this development in terms of settlement pattern, while exploring the region for possible early historical sites. Sircar also suggests that a Vithi might have been a term applied to a district on the banks of a river.
The inscription mentions four types of land categories based on use: khila or waste, śunyapratikara or land not yielding tax and samudayavajhya or land not yielding income in corps, and vastu or homestead.
In all these cases of land sale for future donation by the buyers it was the waste land of the ‘state’ that was sold at subsidized rates of two or three dinaras per kulyavapa.
The records generally talk about selling of those lands to those who intend to donate the land concerned for religious purpose that were either waste land never reclaimed: khila or those that have long been kept fallow: apratihata.
For future reference in case of settlements studies in the vicinity of Paharpur these data may be used to understand how the land could have been developed. According to Sircar  Gohali may be identified with Goalbhita near Paharpur. It is obvious that Paharpur Vihara was at a chromosomal stage as a Jaina establishment in the days of the Gupta rule, while it was to develop as a big center of Buddhism under the Pala rulers. The settlements lay out that provided the hinterland support to the future development of Somapuri Vihara might be found in this pattern: both in the sense of administration–cum–revenue earning as well as the social community–clientele who provide private patronage to religious establishments, far more important than the patronage of political authority or state for sustained development.
The five Damodarpur Inscriptions come from the Dinajpur District. 
Damodarpur Copper-plate Inscription of the time of Kumaragupta I Gupta Year 124 (=A.D. 443)
Damodarpur (in Dinajpur District) Copper Plate No.1 of Kumaragupta I (443-444AD) is probably the most important for a knowledge of local administrative pattern and is the most popular source for historians. It refers to Visayapati Kumaramatya Vetravarman, who was appointed by (tanniyukta) the Uparika Ciratadatta, Governor of Pundravardhana Bhukti. Vetravarman being in-charge of Kotivarsa Visaya (dist.) administered the government of the locality in the Administrative Board in company of Dhrtipala, the nagaraśresthi, Bandhumitra, the Sarthavaha, Dhrtimitra - the Prathamakulika and Śambapala - the Prathama Kayastha.  They were seen to come together and consult on the sales of land.
Damodarpur Copper-plate Inscription of the time of Kumaragupta I Gupta Year 128
The second inscription was also issued in the times of Kumaragupta I in the Gupta year 128.  Apart from all the officials mentioned in the first Damodarpur Inscription we have the additional reference to the Pustapala Risidatta. Pustapalas are mentioned as record keepers and receivers as well as presenters of petitions.  The most interesting information gathered from this particular inscription is the reference to hattapanakaiśca: understood as marketplace along with shops and shed for watering cattle by D.C. Sircar,  who disagrees with F.W. Thomas’ reading of a word in line 10 in the second side as arahatta and his translation of the meaning of the set of words as- “drinking places with Persian wheels.”  The reference evokes a picture of local life and land use pattern.
Damodarpur Copper-plate Inscription of the time of Budhagupta Gupta Year 163 (=A.D.482)
The third inscription was issued in the time of Budhagupta, in Gupta year 163 (482 AD).  It describes the process of buying land by one individual - Nabhaka, a resident of the village Candagrama. He put in a request (for buying) of a plot of land, to the mahattaras, the astakuladhikarana, the gramika and the Kutumbinas of Palaśvrndaka (grama/visaya?), the brahmana and other residents after enquiring into their welfare. The information of buyer’s request went from Palaśvrndaka through its astakuladhikarana to the Mahattaras and Kutumbinah as well as gramikas and general population of brahmanas and śudras of Candagrama. Candagrama itself probably did not to have its own astakuladhikarana.
These Damodarpur Copper Plates  taken together, reveal the procedure with regard to buying and gifting of a land by an individual for charitable purpose: 
- “First, the donor made an application to the government officers for the purchase of a specified piece of land. It was usually addressed to the Pusta Palas who were the keepers of the Records of the Government, and constituted a body of three persons. In the course of his petition, the petitioner was expected to state that his gift was to be according to nividharma, the land in question was Khila as an yet - non ploughed and not given to anyone, and was free of revenue and that the price to be paid was according to the rates prevailing in the village. As soon as the petition was received, the Pustapalas  placed the matter before four groups of people in the village concerned, namely the mahattaras, astakuladhikarana, gramikas  and the Kutumbinas. (These officials/important personnel were in Palaśvrndaka) and they informed the brahmanadi anya śudra prakrti and Kutumbinah of the Candagrama of this transaction. The inscription contains the information that when the plot of land was measured for the purpose of sale, it was done together by the mahattaras, officers and others, and householders –“mahattarastakuladhikaranamgramika – kutumbinaňca.” 
Apart from these administrative details, which again imply the possibility of visualizing a paradigm of hierarchy in settlement growing under the Gupta rule in this part of early historical Bengal, there are a few more interesting points to note: Again it is the waste land of the state that was being sold for donation purpose. But this time at an even lower rate: two dinaras (usual subsidized price was three dinaras). One of these khila tracts was located in the north of the Vayigrama Parśva. That may be situated adjacent to the Bogura District. These indicators may throw light on the geographical lay of the land. So far as actual archaeological data is concerned some ancient mounds like the Chalaner dhap, Naria Dhap, Godhar Dhap in village Palasbari near Mahasthan (because this inscription refers to land bordering on Vayigrama in Bogra District), have been held to possibly represent the cluster of villages in Palaśvrndaka unit of this inscription.
Damodarpur Copper-plate Inscription of the time of Budhagupta (=A.D. 476-94)
The fourth inscription is even more interesting: It was issued in the time of Budhagupta (476–94 AD).  This time the land that was being earmarked for sale to the donor was located in the forest area it was demarcated by a pond in the east and the Ribhupala pond in the south. The land lay in the Dońga grama.
Damodarpur Copper-plate Inscription of the Gupta Year 224 (= A.D. 543)
The fifth Damodarpur Copper Plate  belongs to the Gupta year 224 (543 AD) The seal starts with a clear official note of issue “Kotivarsadhisthanadhikaranasya”– Once more the land to be sold to the donor, who will donate it later was chosen from samudayavahyaprahata – untilled and not yielding revenue; khila – ksetra or untilled. The land is bought for three dinaras a kulyavapa. But this land also included a vastu land. Probably an important departure from earlier practice.
The District saw the rise of one of the most flourishing urban sites in the Early Historical Bengal, which continued to exist as a nodal center in the Early Medieval period.
K.G. Goswami suggests that  Vaijayanti, Devikotta and Kotivarsa of the ancient and medieval fame were the same. He cites Bloch reporting (Annual Report of Archaeological Survey, Eastern Circle, 1900 – 01, Appendix A, p. v) that: “Debikot near Gangarampur Police Station was an important frontier post” in the Medieval times and that its ruins may represent an ancient settlement. When Buchanan Hamilton visited the site in 1833, he reported  that the ruins of ‘Bannogar’ occupied the east bank of the Punarbhava which at this point flew from the north – east to the south – west for about 2 miles, beginning a little above “Dumdumah”. Goswami reports the vast area to be full of mounds of various sizes. The citadel mound was identified with Devikot – about 2000 ft square according to Alexander Cunningham.  Goswami in 1938 reports the citadel to be about 1800 ft X 1500 ft and surrounded by a ditch on 3 sides – north, east and south.  The center of the area of Debikot was the Rajbari Mound at the heart of which probably the old palace was located. The main city may have spread to the north and east of the citadel. Excavations in the citadel area revealed five cultural phases representing Maurya – Sunga to the Medieval times. The city had a modest beginning but was clearly getting organized as an urban center in the Sunga – Kushan phase. Goswami comments about the distinct sign of prosperity at this stage (C 200 BC–C 300 AD), which according to him was linked up with “growth and development of trade and communications”.  The site is not merely an individual habitation but probably represents a centre in a conglomerate of settlements, possibly rural, as, in the words of B.D. Chattopadhyay, it qualifies as a nodal center.  It is possible that political and economic changes took effect within this time, where the relations within a hierarchy of settlements would be defined. In fact, as B.D. Chattopadhyay  has offered, the development of a hierarchy of settlement pattern indicates the evolution of urbanism in any given context K.G. Goswami, the excavator of Bangarh had linked up the prosperity noted at that site for the Sunga – Kushana phase with growth and development of trade and communications.  Here too the same logic of center – periphery or market center – productive hinterland model would have to be referred.
The first and the fifth Damodarpur inscriptions refer to certain features that may clarify the land use pattern within Kotivarsa Visaya illuminating farming and rural hinterland lay out in the Gupta times near Bangarh, when apparently the urbanity around Bangarh was on the wane but the locality stood as one of the major rural administrative headquarters. The fourth Damodarpur Copper Plate, however, refers to localities near Vayigrama in Bogra District, as we have already seen.
B.D. Chattopadhyaya in his more recent work has talked about this “regional rural network”.  He takes the case of Bangarh and Mahasthangarh as landmarks in the zonal complex of Varendra around which rural network has to be visualized.
It is true that for understanding the continued evolution of settlements in the Varendra region, or the core region of the Pundravardhana Bhukti of the Early Historic times, one has to take in the two major settlements – Bangarh and Mahasthangarh together with Paharpur, as possible nodal points or rural headquarters (as from time to time we note decadence of urbanity but continuation of rural blocks) – as they may have fluctuated between, as fundamentally creating a zone of settlements in the Rajshahi, Dinajpur, Bogra Districts. But it is not only important to note how urban settlements were supported by the rural hinterland. One has also to note the clusters of rural settlements as productive units supporting religious centers like Paharpur, even if we are to accept that the ruins at Paharpur do not represent an urban enclave. We shall see later how even in the absence of major nodal centers clusters or linear patterns of rural settlements thrived in this part of ancient Bengal and studying this phenomenon would throw much more light on the general pattern of land use and efflorescence of material culture in a region like Bengal of old. In view of the available information in inscriptions it may be possible to look the other way round than focusing primarily on major archaeological sites as the starting points. We may try to start with the kind of rural organization hinted at in these sources and the land – use pattern often glimpsed from them. Goswami refers to a structurally poor strata at Bangarh at the Gupta level  and Mahasthan revealed indistinct structural features before the Gupta period, which indicate urbanism only in the Gupta phase. However, the regional history does not circulate only around the urban paradigm. Both Kotivarsa of the Gupta times and the Mahasthan of the pre – Gupta times were important in local history – as we see in the inscriptions.
Madanapala inscription of 2nd regnal year (1155 AD)
The information from inscriptions also throw light on the early medieval period scene in this District. Two inscriptions belong to the reign of Madanapala found at Rajibpur in the village Sibbari, adjacent to the Bangarh Mound. The first plate was issued in the 2nd regnal year of the King 1155 AD probably, if the 18th reganl year is held as 1161 AD). 
The land mentioned in this record was said to be situated in the village of Budhavada in the Avrtti of Śringatika in the Abhoga of Krta–hala–kula–bhumi. S. C. Mukherjee translates: the coastal land subjected to cultivation.”(side 1, line 37) This was an agricultural land and was said to yield a rent of thirty puranas– the Trimśatika bhumi. This is an indication that in the Pala period land to be donated was taken from rent paying agricultural land too. We also hear of a few new administrative units: Avrtti and Abhoga. Interestingly the King is said to donate the land in the name of Buddha, after taking a bath in Ganga, to a Brahmana priest belonging to the Aśvalayana Śakha of the Rgveda. (side 2, lines 49–51)
Madanapala inscription of 32nd regnal year (1185 AD)
In the second inscription of the 32nd year of the reign of Madanapala, the land that was donated was “bounded by the homestead land lying in the southern part of Budhavada palli which was attached the granary (kosthagara) of Devikota to the homestead land measuring 35 chains in the pallis of Yakha (Yaksha) Mundakha or Yaksa named Munda, Piśaca Kala and Yakha (Yaksha) Vidusa (Vidura?) and up to the land of Nandipala lying in the boundary of Varandapalli, attached to Vangadi. The gift–land was situated in the Halavarttam-andala of the Kotivarsa–visaya of the Pundravarddhana- bhukti (II, 33-4).
The names of the palli’ s, which may be smaller divisions than villages, are suggestive. Are they tribal units? Nandipala of Varandapalli, however, was within caste – fold, as the name indicates. The presence of the Kosthagara is obvious - Bangarh being a nodal center and a prosperous city in the Pala times, as evident from structural remains. Bogra District
Next go on to the Baigram Copper Plate inscription of the time of Kumargupta I after this. This record belongs to an earlier time than the 4th Damodarpur Copper Plate inscription, which refers to the region near Vayigrama as we have seen above. Since the two copper plates refer to adjacent regions they could yield a significant piece of information about land administration. The purchased piece of land in Chandagrama lay bordered on Vayigrama (Baigram).
Baigram Copper-plate Inscription of the Gupta Year 128 (=A.D. 439)
Vayigrama of this inscription was said to be situated in the Paňcanagari Visaya. In this case the application is for the purchase of land made by two brothers: Kutumbi Bhoyila and Kutumbi Bhaskara who lived in the locality of three named villages of Trivrta, Śri gohali and Vayigrama. The application was made to Kumaramatya Kulavrddhi, the Visayapati, who was ruling from Paňcanagari, the headquarter of the district  The reason for the request was the creation of a provision  for repair of a temple and the supply of things required for worship such as scents, incense, light, flowers etc. The application was for the purchase of a specified measure of follow land which was
- (1) not paying any rent or revenue to the state
- (2) It was an uncultivated waste land without any vegetation cover.
- (3) It was not enjoyed by an private individual to whom compensation would have to be paid if it was in his possession.
The pustapalas or record keepers of the local administrative Adhikarana examined the whole question and recommended the sale of the government land. The following points were the factors why the application was approved by them.
- (a) the lands were lying fallow and without any vegetation.
- (b) they were capable of yielding revenue to the king.
- (c) there could be no objection to the sale on the ground that it would result in financial loss to the king.
- (d) but the king was likely to gain materially from the sale besides spiritual gain in the shape of dharma; and
- (e) that the lands were situated in areas which would not affect adversely the cultivation of the settled lands.
The communication of application was conveyed by the Kumaramatya Kulavrddhi, head of Pancanagari visaya, to the visayadhikarana and to ‘village householders, along with the brahmanas and others and the Chief-officers (Samavyavaharins) of the two localities of Trivrta and Śri gohali, connected with the village named Vayigrama.
According to B.D. Chattopadhyay  there was not even probably an astakuladhikarana in these localities for the inscription ran:
- “Vayigramika-Trivrta-Śrigohalyoh-Brahmanottaran Samvyavahari – pramukhan gramakutumbinah Kuśalamanuvarnya bodhayati Vijnapayati.”
But as he mentions  – the Damodarpur Copper Plate of 482-82 refers to an astakuladhikarana in the nearby Palaśvrndaka and to have included in its network several villages of the locality. The evidence from Baigram copperplate may therefore indicate the extensions of administration in newer regions, where as yet full administrative paraphernalia had not developed. R.G. Basak has been cited by B.D. Chattopadhyay  that
- "Kotivarsa was perhaps a more important visaya where Government had to keep better administrative arrangement for the Visay – adhikarana than in Pancanagari of this grant, which may have been a newly formed district at the time.”
Important points may be the following: (1) growing rural settlements and (2) increasing administrative units.
Other associated points to be noted include:
- (1) trend of Sanskritization
- (2) lay of the land
- (3) importance of land-use for cultivation or grazing on a priority basis.
Land donation for religious purpose comes last in this list.
The Visaya Khada had its headquarters at Pancanagari.  Is it the same Pancanagari mentioned in the Dhanaidaha inscription of yr. 128 or 447 AD? In that case we may think in terms of adjacent clusters of villages which were referred to in the three inscriptions: the Dhanaidaha, the Damodarpur copper plate of Budhagupta’s times and the Baigram inscription – covering regions within the three adjacent modern districts of Rajshahi, Bogra and Dinajpur. As far as units of administration are concerned, it seems from a study of the Gupta period inscriptions that villages had been in existence with an already developed local cadre of leaders in the persona of mahattara and Kutumbinah. The village network and land utilization in this region seems to have been in gear. It is important to understand this pattern of land occupation and use in the contiguous unit that was obviously adjacent to each other covering Rajshahi, Dinajpur and Bogra, where distinct nodal points like, Bangarh, Mahasthangarh and Paharpur had developed by the middle of the Early Historical times.
Mahasthan stone plaque Inscription
Usually identified as the ancient Pundranagara,  Mahasthan stone plaque Inscription, composed in Pali, refers to Pudanagala or Pundranagara) there is ample evidence to indicate the evolution of a high material culture at Mahasthan with the commencement of the Maurya rule  In case of Mahasthan we have the Maurya inscription which throws light on organizational development in the region. The inscription refers to an emergency condition for which an order is given to open the storehouse or granary – dhaniyam or dhaniyikahi and distribute food grains to the community – Samvańgiyanam or Samvangiya. The inscription also mentions kothagala and kosam. This clearly indicates the existence of a treasury or granary and a general store at the place. Not only that the record also talks about mustard and sesamum to be received from Suma, Sulakshmi and Pundranagara. This may hint towards the existence of two other settlements nearby. We may presume production and accumulation of crops etc and the accumulation point converges at Pundranagara. For this to develop we have to think of several local productive units. Suma nd Sulaksmi may have been two of them.
The continuing excavations at the site at present indicate that between the 3rd and mid – 1st centuries BC there was an outburst of material production. This phase has been named the period of “the capital city”.  This epithet ascribed to Mahasthan imply also the prior presence of a hinterland of which the city would be the capital.
A number of ancient mounds dot about the main city’s peripheries, fanning out in a semi circle of a 5 mile radius . On excavation from 1928 – 29 onwards temples, remains of various secular buildings, Buddhist monasteries (Vasu Vihara) belonging to early historical to early medieval times. The main citadel of Mahasthan has to be understood in the light of these peripheral features.
Shah Sufi Mostafizur Rahman has reported the case of Bogra District.  A large number of sites now stand identified for the Early Historical and Early Medieval periods in the District. Most of these are situated on the Barind tracts and are marked by mounds with burnt brick structures. Identification of sites all over the district was partly helped by the oral tradition of epithets for places (geo - linguistics) like dhap, dheep, bari, than, medh, bhita etc. As Mostafizur Rahman concentrates on the geophysical features in understanding the settlement lay – out of the Mahasthan region, it would be useful to look at the historical data offered by the inscriptions noted above.
In Bogra about nine Northern Black Polished Ware sites and five sites for the early historical phase, while for the early medieval times the number goes up as much as to 90. Among these 53 are below one hectare notably small villages. On the larger side, five sites are more than 10 hectares, indicating mega – villages or towns. There is a concentration of about 76 sites around Mahasthan, which formed a nucleus of a cluster. This kind of nucleated pattern probably also stands true for Bangarh in Dinajpur.  The growing number of sites, if put in a proper time frame and a clear chronology, might throw light on the extension of agriculture, growing land – use and increase in demographic structure. The inscriptions provide inner details of these structures. This we shall see in case of the District of Malda for the Early Medieval phase.
Khalimpur Copper plate of Dharmapala
Malda is the venue of the Khalimpur Copper plate of the Pala ruler Dharmapala and the Jagajjivanpur Copper plate of king Mahendrapala, as well as the magnificent structure of the Nadadirghi Vihara. A glimpse at these evidences might illuminate how the lay of the land had been in the Early Medieval times, subsequent to the period we have so long been concentrating on.
Khalimpur is a village in the District from where the most important inscription of Dharmapala of his reigning year 32 was recovered. The main intention of this inscription  was to notify about a landgrant made to the support the worship/temple of Narayana built in “Shubhasthali” and for the upkeep of his worshippers – a Brahmana from the Lata country and a group of priests. The grant was made by the Mahasamanta Narayanavarman and the order was issued to the Mahantaprakaśa Visaya of the Vyaghratati Mandala and the Sthalikatta Visaya of the Amrasandika Mandala, both within the Pundravardhana Bhukti. (note the clear hierarchy of unit formation in these times) Apart from the well -known facts about the reign of Dharmapala, the inscription also provides interesting information about some local features, physical and human. A few villages and their borderlands are described.
The first is the Krauncasvabhra village in Mahantaprakaśa Visaya in Vyghratati Mandala. The lay of the land is like the following: To its west flows the Ganginika. In the north lies the temple of Kadambari and a date palm tree (conspicuous landmark). In the northwest lies the ala (artificial embankment) constructed by Rajaputra Devata. This embankment goes towards the lime orchard. In the east lay the embankment constructed by Vitaka, which goes towards an artificial lake. The punyarama bila is mentioned. The next description cannot be successfully translated. Three other villages have been mentioned in this connection: Rohitabati, Pindarabiti and Jotika. Two other places: Uktarajota and Devikasimabiti Dharmayojatika have also been mentioned. What these names represent are open to question. But they may refer to plots of land, well defined by name, whether villages or even smaller or bigger units.
The second village Mada - śalmali was described as bounded in the north by Ganginika once again (the two villages are adjacent). In the east the river probably meets Ardhasrotika – another stream? The expression goes: “ardhasrotikaya amrayanakolarddheyanikamgata tatopi ....” B. D. Chattopadhyay  reads this portion as the following: on the east the small river (Ganginika) meets the ardhasrotikaya on whose shores flourished mango and other trees – the village extends up to this point. The southern boundary of Madaśalmali is marked by the Kalikaśvabhra village. There were water courses lying to its west extending up to Gańginika.
Then comes the village Palitaka. In its south lay Kanadvipika - sandy shores? Or as B.D. Chattopadhyay reads it: Kana Dvipika or small island. The course of the river Kosthiya flows to the east of the village. In the north was the Gańginika. (Mada - śalmali and Palitaka face the Gańginika in the same direction) In the west of Palitaka is the Jenadayika (land of Jenanda?). There was some presumption about the location of the Vyghratati Mandala, which some thought was located in Southern Bengal. However, there is no certain clue. It is very likely that the above places were all located in the Malda District where the plate was found buried.
Next the boundaries of the village Gopipalli, situated within the Sthalikatta Visaya in Amrasandika Mandala have been described. To its east lay the western boundary of the Udragrama – Mandala. To the south lay jolaka  which, according to B.D. Chattopadhyay, was probably marshy land, There is a fair chance that these Visayas were adjacent since the lands were donated for the same cause to the same group of Brahmanas were located in these villages. We are again referring to the learned opinion of B.D. Chattopadhyay, which goes a long way to support our perspective and plan of action for studying the settlement situation and land use pattern in the Varendra region. He has referred to this landgrant in connection with his theory that in most cases the rural settlements figuring in landgrants are described as being situated near natural surface water sources. He comments (ibid), “It stands to reason then that colonization of new areas and creation of large scale settlements in them would be planned keeping in view their proximity to natural water courses.” Apart from this propensity to land use extension in areas rich in natural surface water sources, we find that the Pala period inscriptions from Varendra in general contain more specific land demarcations with specific features – both natural and artificial. This may in fact reflect a more intensive land use pattern in the region with more population and clear demarcations indicating also a closer administrative control. This is also apparent from the numerous officials mentioned in the Pala inscritptions as local personnel. The Khalimpur inscription lists the following: (The grant was conveyed to)
- Rajarajanaka, Rajaputra, Rajamatya, Senapati, Visayapati, Bhogapati, Sasthadhikrta (revenue collector), Dańdaśakti, Dańdapaśika, Cauraddharanika, Daussadhasadhanika, Dutakhola, Hastaśvagomahisajabikadhyaksa (elephant, horse, cattle and kine, sheep and goat supervisors), Nakadhyaksa, Baladhyaksa, Tarika, Śaulkika, Gaulmika, Tadayuktaka, Viniyuktaka, Rajapadajibinah, Cata, Bhata – all royal officials; Jyestha Kayastha, Mahamahattara, Daśagramikadi, Visayavyavaharinah, Pratibasinah, Ksetrakara, Karanika – local contingent.
With these indications it may not be wrong to assume that the Early Medieval village settlements were probably more well demarcated and the grama–to–Bhukti hierarchy was more clearly laid out. This might make it easier to explore the sites of this period and make the interregional correlations easier to understand.
The provenance of the Khalimpur
The provenance of the Khalimpur places may be a problem as Vyaghratati Mandala is held by some to belong to Southern parts of Bengal (we are not too sure about that), but the Jagajjivanpur plate  belongs clearly to the Malda District. Therefore let us look at this piece of evidence. This plate refers to Mahendrapala making this grant from the victorious camp at a place called Kuddalakhataka. The granted land is called nandadirghok – odranga. Gouriswar Bhattacharya comments that udranga was a renatble land perhaps situated on the banks of a water tank. The land was said to be located in Visaya Kuddalakhataka in Pundravardhana Bhukti. The inscription refers that King Mahendrapala was conveyed that Vajradeva the Mahasenapati has caused to build a monastery in Nandadirghik – odranga and has requested the king through a duta to grant him the udranga for the worshipand other religious activities of the Buddha Bhattaraka. The King then informs that the udranga was granted for the purpose under bhumicchidra – nyaya and requests the officials present to approve the grant and asks the neighbouring cultivators to provide for the necessary upkeep of the establishment. Now we look at the lay of the piece of land granted. “The gift – land is bounded by the half – stream of the Tańgila river (the modern Tangan?) in the east, the half stream of the Kubja Jote (canal) leading up to the homestead land of Narayana in the southeast (probably the residence of General Narayana, father of General Vajradeva) lying in the middle of Kasiggada embankment in the south, from the small stream or fountain rising from the waters (of the Tangila?) to the ant - hill and the aśvattha tree the Jamba – vasaka (Jambavasaka?) channel as well as the amalaki trees lying at an interval of six nalas, separating the western part by an embankment lying near the bel tree on the western bank of the Little Nanda lake (Mahananda - a small branch of Mahananda?), in the west, and between the half stream of the Tańgila and Nanda lake (a dried water course of the Mahananda turned into a lake) the tract lying to the south of the north eastern corner (or a kunda) in the north.” 
S.C. Mukherji makes some close identifications:  The Tangila of the inscription can be the modern Tangon, which flows through the region The Mahananda flows near Bulbulchandi not far from the Tulabhita mound where the Nandadirghi monastery lay. The Punarbhava also flows close past the site. The Nanda lake may be the Nandagarer Bil near Tulabhita. The neighbouring cultivators who have been notified through the inscription along with the officials and others belonged to farmsteads nearby. Let us look at the list of addressees: They are Rajanaka, Rajaputra, Kumaramatya, Bhuktipati, Visayapati, Senapati, Uparika, Tadayuktaka, Viniyuktaka, Dandika, Dandapaśika, Cauraddharanika, Daussadhasadhanika Khola, Duta, Gamagamika, Abhitvaramana, Hasti- Aśva – Ustra – Nauvala – Vyaprtaka, Go – Mahisa–Aja–Mesa– Adhyaksa, Chata, Bhata, Sakha Adhikarika, Visayavyavaharinah, and then – Brahmanas, prativasinah, ksetrakaran– the local community. How many of the royal officials are ornamental inclusions in the list and how many were involved in local administration is of course a matter of guess. However, Śakha Adhikarika and Visayavyavaharinah are important inclusions denoting the existence of local branches of administration in Kuddalakhataka Visaya. This also implies a sizeable revenue yielding community in the locality and that in turn means a growing land use pattern.
Lastly we refer to the important paper of Sheena Panja  in which she examines the geo – physical features and the settlements pattern in the Malda District – to throw light on the development of a spatial relationship between settlements and their environs from a holistic angle.
This work is particularly important to refer to in this paper because it is one of its kind for the Early Medieval history of Bengal and also because it lends our perspective the support of a theory developed via the methodology of archaeology. She cites evidence gathered through explorations and surveys. Several important sites have been located in the District within 7 main regions categorized by her according to geo – ecological features. Most importantly, she has clearly noted a few main settlement - patterns in Malda. The first - a center – surroundings or nodal pattern like that observed at Mahasthangarh and Bangarh. The second variety is what Panja calls a ‘semi compact’ pattern with a main area and surrounding mounds or habitations, however, without any real nuclaeus as such. The third pattern included isolated sites as mounds dotting the landscape. A fourth noticeable pattern is a linear and dispersed one, but in this case the number of sites is much less.  These different patterns convey different rationale for existence of the sites, different inter - settlement relations and resource utilization practices. Not all places developed nodal centers or cities. That is why it is more important to note the general settlement pattern, important to look for sites of various sizes and structural importance – to understand the history of the socio – economic development in the region as a whole and not the isolated instance of an urban settlement– a perspective we had discussed above in page 16 of this article.
A problem raised by Panja about site relationship is the lack of settlements in the region intermediate between the bigger complexes like Bangarh and Bairhatta, Bangarh and Mahasthan or between smaller complexes like those at Amati and Bairhatta or Amati and Pichli etc.  This does pose a problem in the way of understanding why there should be a gap and what it meant. She explains this factor partly by suggesting possibilities of site burial or destruction of sites due to active depositions and variations of fluvial pattern or channel system in this “very dynamic fluvial terrain.”
However, the information in the inscriptions, no doubt restricted to a few cases only, nevertheless offers the chance to look at how cultivation and waste fields lay vis–a–vis channels and rivers, embankments built by people, use of space near streams etc, bringing in a new dimension in those specific cases where such information is available in inscriptions. We have the scope for understanding the activity of the people on land not only in terms of settlements but also land use in the vicinity of settlements.
The Jagajjivanpur Plate illuminates a detailed lay – of land. With this information we may look at the archaeological data at and near Jagajjivanpur. The Tulabhita Mound boasts the magnificent structure of the Nandadirghi monastery. There are a few other mounds close to the site, with possibilities of an elaborate establishment at Jagajjivanpur. A habitation site has been identified at Gomratala south of Jagajjivanpur. Lonsa, west of Jagajjivanpur, Raniganj on the southeast on the bend of the Tangon, the mounds we noted at Sajnadighi – are still awaiting to be searched for further clue. Other sites like the one underlying the village of Khatil, or those at Maralu or Mangalpura along the bank of Tangon, on the west of Jagajjivanpur – all may yield important information about the settlement history in the Habibpur locality of the District. The sustenance of a major monastery at Jagajjivanpur may stand explained in the light of the existence of these habitation sites, populated by farming communities in the vicinity. The kind of space use, resource mobilization, social fabric, administrative paraphernalia, religious life– all may be illuminated through a meticulous study of the sources (historical, archaeological and oral tradition) available to make possible a holistic history of a region. The history of the people of Bengal, as R.C. Majumdar and Nihar Ranjan Ray had once intended, can be illuminated in a more meaningful way through such links made between the written word and the physical remains.
- This content is based on article SETTLEMENTS IN ANCIENT BENGAL:SOME OBSERVATIONS by Nupur Dasgupta: Professor, Department of History, University of Jadabpur, Kolkata. We have taken this article here for the study of Gupta Inscriptions.
Topics of historical importance
- Chandra Gomin
- Somapura Mahavihara
List of rivers of Bangladesh
- Atrai River
- Balu River
- Bangali River
- Baral River
- Bhairab River
- Biskhali River
- Brahmaputra River
- Bura Gauranga River
- Buriganga River
- Chiknai River
- Chitra River
- Dakatia River
- Dhaleshwari River
- Dhansiri River
- Dhanu River
- Dharla River
- Dhepa River
- Feni River
- Ganges River
- Garai River
- Gomti River
- Gorai-Madhumati River
- Halda River
- Ichhamati River
- Jaldhaka River
- Jamuna River
- Jinai River
- Kaliganga River
- Kangsha River
- Karatoya River
- Karnaphuli River
- Kazipur River
- Khowai River
- Kobadak River
- Kopothakho River
- Kumar River
- Kushiyara River
- Mahananda River
- Manu River, Tripura
- Modhumoti River
- Mathabhanga River
- Meghna River
- Muhuri River
- Nabaganga River
- Naf River
- Nagar River
- Nalia River
- Padma River
- Punarbhaba River
- Pusur River
- Shitalakshya River
- Surma River
- Teesta River
- Titas River
- Tulshiganga River
- Turag River
 A Ray, Mangolkot: An ancient Township, N. K. Bhattashali centenary Volume, (Delhi 1984), Debala Mitra and G. Bhattacharyya (eds.), pp. 285-91.
 B.D. Chattopadhyay, Studies in Early History, (Delhi, 2003), p. 81.
 Epigraphica Indica, XXI, p. 79; R.G. Basak, ‘Dhanaidaha Copperplate Inscription of the time of Kumaragupta I: the year 113’ in EI, Vol. 17, 1923, pp. 345-48.
 V.R. R. Diksitar, The Gupta Polity, (Delhi, 1993 reprint), p. 255.
 D.C. Sircar, Select Inscriptions, Vol. I, (Delhi, 1993 reprint), p. 287.
 D.C. Sircar, op. cit., 287, f.n. 6.
 E.I. XVII, p. 346.
 B.D. Chattopadhyay, Aspects of Rural Settlements and Rural Society in Early Medieval India, (Calcutta 1990), p. 37.
 Ibid, p. 21.
 D.C. Sircar, ‘Kalaikuri Copper Plate Inscription of the Gupta year 120’, The Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol. 19 (1943), pp. 12-26.
 B.D. Chattopadhyay, op. cit., p. 22.
 D.C. Sircar’s note in N. B. Sanyal, Sultanpur Copperplate inscription’, EI, Vol. 31 (1955), pp. 57-66.
 V.R.R. Dikshitar, op. cit., (Delhi 1993 reprint), p. 23.
 IHQ, Vol. 19, pp. 17, 21, etc.
- D.C. Sircar, Epigraphic Discoveries in East Pakistan, pp. 8– 14, 61– 63.
 B.D. Chattopadhyay, op. cit., (Calcutta 1990), p. 40.
 K.N. Dikshit, EI, XX, 61 ff; D.C. Sircar, Select Inscriptions, Vol. I, 359 ff.
 Ibid, p. 360.
 V.R. R. Dikahitar, (Delhi 1993 reprint), p. 265.
 D.C. Sircar, Select Inscriptions, Vol. I, (Delhi 1993 reprint), p. 360.
 R.G. Basak, The Five Damodarpur Copperplate Inscriptions of the Gupta Period, EI Vol. XV. (1919-20), pp. 113-45.
 R.G. Basak, E.I., Vol., XV, p. 130.
 R. G. Basak, EI, XV, 133 ff; K.N. Dikshit, EI, XVII, p. 193.
 EI, XV, 136. Read discussions in V. R. R. Dikshitar, Gupta Polity, (Delhi, 1993 reprint), pp.. 260– 61.
 D.C. Sircar, Select Inscriptions, Vol. I, (Delhi, 1993 reprint), p. 294.
 D.C. Sircar, op. cit., 294, f.n. 2.
 R.G. Basak, EI, XV, 135 f.
 EI XV, pp. 113 ff.
 V.R. R. Dikshitar, op. cit., (Delhi, 1993 reprint), p. 260.
 EI, XV, p. 136.
 Ibid, p. 139.
 Damodarpur Copper Plate of Gupta year 163, first side lines 2–3. From D.C. Sircar, Select Inscriptions, Vol. I, (Delhi, 1993 reprint), p. 333.
 R.G. Basak, EI, XV, 138 f.
 R.G. Basak, EI, XV, 142 f.
 K.G. Goswami, Excavations at Bangarh (1938–41), Ashutosh Museum Memoir, No. 1, (University of Calcutta, 1948), p. 2.
 Buchanan Hamilton, “A Geographical, Statistical and Historical description of the District of Dinajpur, 1833, Martin – eastern India, Vol. II, p. 661.
 Alexander Cunningham, ASR, Vol. XV, pp. 95f.
 K.G. Goswami, op. cit., (University of Calcutta, 1948), p. 2.
 Ibid, pp. 11, 34.
 B.D. Chattopadhyay, Studying Early India, (Delhi 2003), pp. 75–76.
 Ibid, pp. 72– 73.
 K.G. Goswami, op. cit., (University of Calcutta, 1948), pp. 11, 34.
 B.D. Chattopadhyay, op. cit., (Delhi 2003), p. 70.
 K.G. Goswami, op. cit, (University of Calcutta, 1948), p. 10, B.D. Chattopadhyay, op. cit., (Delhi 2003), p. 75.
 S.C. Mukherji, The three recently discovered copper plates of the Pala Period, Pratnasamiksa, Vol. I, 1992, p. 174.
 R.G. Basak, ‘Baigram Copperplate inscription of the Gupta year 128’, EI, Vol. 21 (1931-32), pp. 78-83.
 E1, XXI, p. 81.
 V.R. R. Dikshitar, op. cit., (Delhi 1993 reprint), p. 262.
 B.D. Chattopadhyay, op. cit., (Calcutta 1990), p. 39.
 R.G. Basak, “Baigram copperplate inscription of the Gupta year 128’ in EI, Vol. XXI, (1931-32), pp. 78-83, cited in B. D. Chattopadhyay, op. cit., (Calcutta 1990), p. 38.
 E.I. XXI, p. 79.
 D.R. Bhandarkar, EI, XXI, pl. II, p. 85; D. C. Sircar, Select Inscriptions, Vol. I, (Delhi, 1993), reprint, pp. 79-80.
 B.D. Chattopadhyay, op. cit., (Delhi 2003), p. 74; Nazimuddin Ahmed, Mahasthan: A Preliminary Report of the Recent Archaeological Excavations at Mahasthangarh, Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Bangladesh, Dacca, 1975.
 J. F. Salles, M.F. Boussac and J.Y. Breuil (eds.), ‘Mahasthangarh, (Bangladesh) and the Ganges Valley in the Mauryan Period, in Sheena Panja and Gautam Sengupta’, Archaeology of Eastern India, (Kolkata 2003), pp. 533 – 549.
 Shah Sufi Mostafizur Rahman, “The Early Historic and Early Medieval Archaeology of Bogra District, Bangladesh, in Gautam Sengupta and Sheena Panja”, Archaeology of Eastern India (ed.), (Kolkata 2002), p. 192.
 Ibid, p. 200.
 Aksay Kumar Maitreya, Gaudalekhamala, new print, (Kolkata 2004), pp. 15-16.
 B. D. Chattopadhyay, Aspects of Rural Settlements and Rural Society in Early Medieval India, (Calcutta 1990), p. 32.
 Gouriswar Bhattacharya, The New Pala Ruler Mahendrapala, Pratnasamiksa, Vol. I, 1992, pp. 165-170.
 S.C. Mukherji, The three recently discovered copper plates of the Pala Period, Pratnasamiksa, Vol. I, 1992, p. 172.
 Ibid, pp. 172 – 73.
 Sheena Panja, “Understanding Early Medieval Sites of North Bengal, in Gautam Sengupta and Sheena Panja”, Archaeology of Eastern India (ed.), (Kolkata 2002), pp. 227– 265.
 Ibid, pp. 245-46.
 Ibid, p. 246.