Dakshin Dinajpur

The district of Dakshin Dinajpur has reasons to be proud of its rich historical and cultural heritage. It was a part of undivided Dinajpur district of erstwhile Bengal which was known as Pundra Vardhan Bhukti in ancient times.
According to Brihath Katha Kosh the famous Jain Guru of the Maurya Emperor Chandra Gupta was son of a Brahmin of Devakota in Pundra Vardhan. The eastern portion of Dinajpur was known as Panchanagari and Devakot was the capital, the ruins or which are still found in and around Bangarh in Gangarampur PS.
In the centre or Bangarh is a large heap of bricks said to have been the palace of Raja Bana. At Shivbati a little distance from the northeast corner of the city heaps of brick are said to be the ruins of a temple of Virupakshya Shiva. King Bana was a worshipper of Shiva. He excavated Tapan Dighi in Tapan PS to offer tarpan to Shiva.
About half a mile west from the northern end of the palace was a house where Usha, daughter of Bana, used to live. She was in love with Aniruddha, son of Krishna. Aniruddha fled with Usha, the road he followed is still called Ushaharan Road. However, Usha's love for Anirudlha brought about a total destruction for her father and his empire. On the other side of river Brahmani is a place called Narayanpur where the great battle between Krishna and Bana is said to have taken place.
About 10 miles away from Bangarh is a place called Kardaha in Tapan P.S. Here the palms of Bana been cut by Krishna in the battle are said to have fallen and furneral taken place. In the river bed of the Tangon near Bangshihari Police Station the stone relics of an ancient Temple are visible when the river water recedes.

A good number of places in the district are associated with the epic stories. In Mahabharata it is said that the Pandavas in incognito, took shelter in the palace of king Birat, ruins of which are seen at Bairhatta - a village in Harirampur PS. It's also said that here Kichaka, the army chief of king Birat, was killed by Bhima, when the former tried to establish illicit relations with Draupadi. A tank at Bairhata is still called Kichaka Kunda. Dehaband, an area full of mounds, about 15 km away from Birhatta is said to be the palace of Kichak. An ancient shami tree, a unique specis in this region, is also seen at the entrance of the village, in which Nakula is said to have kept the arms of the Pandavas hidden before entering the Palace.
A village in the locality has been named Pancha Bhaya (five brothers) after the Pandavas. A number of places like Karandighi. Karnajora. Karanji in the neighbouring area reminds their association with the great warrior Karna.

During the Mauryan period Jainism flourished in this area, mention has already been made about the famous Jain Guru Bhadra Vahu who travelled from present Gangarampur to Pataliputra. The river Punarbhava was then the main and one of the most important river routes from Pundra Bardhan Bhukti to Pataliputra and Indraprastha. Since then, this area was an important centre of Jainism. The Jain Prajna Pana mentions the name of Kotivarsa.
In the 6th and 7th century AD. many of the kings preceeding Harshavardhan were devotees of Sun god. There is abundant evidence of sun worship in this region.
In Tapan thana, an old sand stone image of Surya is kept which belongs to perhaps the 7th century AD. At Bairhatta, another piece of stone carved in the image of Surya was recovered. Mention may be made about a very recent recovery. During re-excavation of Bhabna Dighi at Kokil village in Harirampur Police Station by the Panchayat under JRY in June,1994, a very beautiful stone image of Sun god has come out which belongs to an earlier period around the 7th century AD.
Another beautiful black stone image of Surya about 3 (ft) high recovered from the criminals, has now been kept at Tapan Thana building. It is an exquisitely beautiful image, perhaps belonging to the Gupta period.