Sisupalagarh is one of the most ancient archeological structures in eastern India, situated near Bhubaneswar the capital city of modern day Orissa. In the ancient times Orissa was Kalinga and supposedly Bhubaneswar was the capital . To understand the antiquity of Sisupalagarh, we need to understand the nomenclature of this ancient structure. Sisupalagarh is in fact Sisupala and garh and Sisupala is the name of an ancient King of the Mahabharata era and Garh means a fort .
As per the sacred Maha Bhagabat Puranna::: In the Dwapara yuga a prince was born to King Dhamaghosa and Queen Srutadava ( sister of Vasudeva who was the farther of Lord Krishna) a king of the Chedi dynasty. This prince was named Sisupala and incidentally this prince was a cousin of Lord Krishna. As per our Puranas , many legends and stories are associated with this king Sisupala . One such Legend is that Sisupala was in love with Rukmini, the most beautiful damsel of those times. Sisupala had many romantic dreams of this girl and desired to marry her. On the other hand , Lord Krishna , the then lover boy and a Casanova of the era, enticed Rukmini, eloped and married her. This annoyed Sisupala extremely who in a fit of rage abused Lord Krishna in an open court ,to the extent that Lord Krishna slew Sisupala by beheading him then and there. Puranas speak of King Sisupala being a general of the Kourabas in the great Mahabharata War against the Pandavas.
History mentions about King Kharavela being a Chedi king and having his Palace at Sisupalagarh after extensive renovation of the older one. Though the Chedi Dynasty was from Madhya desa or midland India, in the past some Chedi Kings migrated to the eastern coast and set up their Kingdom.
Hence taking into account the Chedi Dynasty Kings, Sisupala being a powerful Chedi King and Sisupalagarh being his Fort, the association with Lord Krishna and The Great War Mahabharat wherein Kalinga warriors fighting for the Kourabas under the generalship of King Sisupala, Todays Sisupalagarh is an antique of (or may be beyond ) the Mahabharat era or about 3137 B.C. Subsequently King Kharavel did extensive rennovations to it and built his Maha Vijaya Prasada. The Great Victory Palace. This is as per the inscriptions on Hatigumpha, Udayagiri, Bhubaneswar of present day.
As per eminent and established archeologist Dr.B.K.Rath, the archeological finds from that place like pieces of pottery, vessels, building materials etc have been carbon dated and date back to more than ten thousand years old.
Articles recovered on excavation by Archiological Scociety of India.
As we travel towards river Daya on our way to Puri from Bhubaneswar , we cross the small river Gangua and come across a left turn only about a mile from Gangua. This left turn takes us to our Sisupalagarh through a winding narrow country road. We go through a very old village and reach the excavated western gate of the fort. Larger than usual size laterite stone slabs used for the construction of the fort walls and gate make up for all the construction material that is visible.
Eminent Historian and Archeologist Sri N.K.Sahoo has done elaborate exploratory work at this place and his book on the subject Kharavela is an invaluable reference . He mentions as The fort is almost square in plan, each of its sides being almost three quarter of a mile long. It thus encloses an area of over half a square mile which accommodated the royal house hold, military and administrative establishments. The contour of the fort walls suggest that there were corner towers rising high into the sky while traces of eight large gateways , two on each side are also found. The pottery of that period which was wheel turned was plain and devoid of any decorations and it appears that residential houses were all made of earth and perishable material.
Of the eight gates, this gate on the western side was excavated in 1948. The laterite blocks measure 6x2x1 feet. The longer arm of the laterite stone gates flank measure 160 feet and the shorter arm 63 feet while the width is 27 to 28 feet. The passage flanked by the two longer arms takes the form of a slow rising ramp about 25 feet wide and provide accesses to the interior of the fort. There were two gates, one near the entrance and the other further back at a little over 100 feet apart. These were probable of wood hence no remains have been found but door sockets could be traced. Each gate is about 13 feet wide and high enough to allow elephants and chariots to pass.
Adjacent to the inner gate is the ancillary passage, 5 feet three inches wide built into the northern flank. This passage could have been used by pedestrians while the main doors were closed. Well formed laterite steps at the inner side of the gate on both flanks provides easy accesses to the top of the high rampant wall tops. A large sized rectangular laterite stone tub at mezzanine level on the inside of the southern flank near the main gate could be located. This may be for storage of water.
The 30 feet rampant wall running away to the north and south, now covered with earth and wild growth are the un excavated portions of the perimeter defense system awaiting further exploration.
About a 100 yards inside the perimeter of the fort, straight towards east from the excavated western gate, was the foundation part of probably a guard house. Rectangular in shape with about three rooms, the remains of a foundation of large laterite stone slabs, could be noticed till only about two years back. Now this structure is lost among many building construction activity in the vicinity.
As present day land occupation and house construction activity has stepped up along side the insensitivity of our urban civic bodies and urban population, it has indeed become a difficult preposition to locate age old remains of such an ancient civilization. Literally one has to search hard for such artifacts among the fast upcoming concrete jungle. Few years hence , we may find Sisupalagarh only in books.
We now proceed to the center of the fort area, which is about 400 / 500 yards from the western gate towards east. This is the unexcavated area where still stands the sowla khamba sixteen pillars of the structural hall. Among rice fields and mounds of earth are the 14 remaining laterite monolithic pillars, standing almost 15 to 20 feet tall. Ravages of nature and man may have had its effect but still the monolithic pillars are majestic. There are socket hole at the top of these pillars suggesting of additional fixtures of wooden beams for the upper stories and the roof. The shape, size and socket holes etc give us an idea about the architectural style of those times.
Only about a distance of 200 feet , towards south eastern direction from the pillared area, we come across a large and well built pond. With high embankments on all four sides this rectangular pond measures approximately 150 x 100 feet and known as the Rani Pokhari / Chedi pokhari or the Chedi Queens Pond. The size , shape and proximity to the palace site indicates of a distinct status of this ancient pond.
On further enquiries at the hamlet on the bank of this pond revealed the finding of a laterite stone LINGUM structure of about 3 feet in height and almost 3 feet in circumference from the center of the pond about 26 years back. We also notice a serpentine form spiraling upwards on this LINGUM. Villager speak of more such images in the pond which they have felt with their feet while swimming across in the pond.
Indeed its but obvious for such a large water body to exist near such a palace. This Rani Pokkhari or Chedi pokhari till date finds no mention in any of our History or Archeology texts. Thus remaining a neglected part of this important archeological site, calls for immediate attention of concerned bodies. We shall initiate some exploratory ground work with local assistance and throw more light on this ancient water body and encourage professional excavatory work in this direction.
In short the end.