Historical:: A REPORT ON SOME OBSERVATIONS MADE AT THE RUINS OF THE FORMER CAPITAL OF MITHILA IN THE TERAI OF NEPAL
A REPORT ON SOME OBSERVATIONS MADE AT THE RUINS OF THE FORMER CAPITAL OF MITHILA IN THE TERAI OF
Thomas O. Ballinger
University of Oregon
In March of 1958 this writer was afforded the opportunity of visiting and confirming an earlier report on the location and ruins of Simraongarh, former capital of the province of Mithila located in the Terai of Nepal. 1
The purpose of this paper is to bring to the attention of interested scholars the condition of this ancient site as it stands in the mid-twentieth century. The few examples of sculpture and carving selected to support visually the commentary serve as photographic documentation of the evidence on the surface at Simraongarh. It is likely that this material, as well as the few other examples of stone carving that subsequently found their way into the Kathmandu and Patna Museums, are the “idols” mentioned by Hodgson in bit earlier account:
“Some twenty idols, excavated from the ruins by pious labour of a Gosain, are made of stone, and are superior in sculpture to modern specimens of the art. Many of them are much mutilated and of those which are perfect, I had only time to observe that they bore the ordinary attributes of Puranic Brahmanism.” 2
The site lies fifteen miles to the south of the sub-Himalaya hill system. It is this lower range of the Himalaya that forms the southern boundary of the valley of Nepal, i. e. the Kathmandu valley. The geographical milieu of the Simraongarh area is a combination of dense growth and clearing with some cultivation adjacent to several small villages in the vicinity. This jungle area, known as the Terai, constitutes the northern terminal point of the vast Indian plain north of the Ganges River- For many centuries the inhospitable environment of the Terai has served as a successful barrier against invaders from the south.
In regard to the founding of and the eventual destruction of Simraongarh, histori cal accounts differ.3 It is well within reason, however, to use the first half of the twelfth century as the time when Naya Deva established the kingdom. Some two hundred years later King Hara Singha Deva reigned as sovereign, Dhana Bajra Bajracharya, in Itihas Samsodhan, offers a detailed account of this period.4 It is almost certain that prior to the Bengali campaign of 1381 the commander of the Muslim forces, Ghazi Malik Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, after assassinating the Sultan of Delhi (.1377 A. D.) swept into Tirhut and the Simraongarh area with the intent of total destruction of all remaining Buddhist and Hindu culture. The facial mutilation of all deities found on the stone carving is testimony to such zeal.
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Entry filed under: Reports.