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5


CONCLUDING REMARKS

It is regrettable that the pre-Muslim architecture of Bengal has not survived the test of time, but the skeleton it has left to us in the form of material remains and inscriptional and literary references are sufficient to build an imaginary picture which must have been glorious and inspiring. From the evidences we have it is not possible to delineate clearly the styles that were developed by different peoples in the different periods of history. Nor is it possible to make a clear distinction between the Hindu and Buddhist architecture that adorned the country for centuries. On the contrary a homogeneity is always noticeable, and it is on the basis of this continuity that the architecture of ancient Bengal is generally reconstructed. That Bengal at one time was the focal point of Indian architecture is apparent not only from the literary accounts and inscriptional references but also from the profound influence it exercised on the architecture of South-East Asia. That the current of architectural movement which once started in Northern India and Orissa reached a period of glory in Bangladesh before it crossed to south-East Asian countries is amply testified by the excavated remains in the various sites only touched upon, and by the numeral architectural members used in the subsequent Muslim monuments. It is worthwhile to mention that hardly there is an important monument of the Sultanate Bengal where spoils of older monuments are not seen in the form of pillars, beams, doorway lintels, jambs and sills, decorative panels, window frames and even mihrab facings. Almost all of them are in black basalt from Rajmahal hills. It is interesting that whenever a stone tablet was found useful but engraved with deities, it was used either by defacing the deities or by putting the front side with the godheads in the core of the wall, the back side then being used as the face elaborately carved with various designs permissible by the cannon-law. Hundreds of mounds, large and small, strewn in the various parts of the country have not yet been unearthed.4

It is not known what exactly are lying underneath these sites. But needless to say that more will be known certainly after the opening of these sites.


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4 In Mainamati alone there are about 50 such mounds. One of the largest mounds of the country is now to be seen at Nauda in Rajshahi. It occupies an area of about 10 acres of land and is estimated to be about 30m high in the centre. As it appears the mound covers the ruins of a vast Buddhist monastery with a gigantic temple in the middle of the courtyard.



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