Ancient ruins of Bamuni Hills, Tezpur, Assam
Bamuni Hill, Tezpur : Introduction
Assam, the beautiful north-eastern state of India has many ancient ruins, indicative of its glorious past. The ruins are scattered over a large area of Assam. One particular spectacular example can be seen near the present day city of Tezpur, the headquarters of the district of Shonitpur. It is the ruins of an ancient temple. Lying on a low hill called Bamuni Hill on the right bank of the mighty river Bramhaputra, these ancient relics silently display an awesome array of stone sculptures, waiting to be seen & explored by the lucky ones who visit this place.
This archaeological site is centrally protected.
Bamuni Hill : Location
Tezpur is the district headquarters of the district of Shonitpur in the north-eastern state of Assam, India. Connected to the major cities of Assam & other parts of India by rail, road & air, Tezpur is easily approachable. The Bamuni Hills ruins are located at the eastern fringe of the city, by the side of Bramhaputra. The ruins are very close to another important landmark of Tezpur, the famous temple dedicated to the goddess Bharabi Mata.
Bamuni Hill : The Mythology
According to legend, this was the palace where Anirudh, nephew of Lord Krishna was imprisoned by king Banasura, the father of Usha with whom Anirudh had fallen in love. Banasura did not approve the love affair, & he also imprisoned his own daughter Usha in a nearby hill known as Agnigarh.
Bamuni Hill : History
As per the ASI (Archeological Survey of India) inscription, the ruins of the Bamuni Hills belong to the period of 10th-12th century AD. Another view is that the ruins of Bamuni Hills are not of a later period than the 8th – 9th century A.D.( sonitpur.gov.in/archaeology.htm).
The architectural style points towards the art work of Gupta Period.
Who constructed the temple of the Bamuni Hill?
The answer is not clear.
The historical account of Assam begins with the establishment of Pushya Varman's Varman Dynasty in the 4th century in the Kamrupa Kingdom. The kingdom reached its zenith under Bhaskar Varman in the 7th century. Bhaskar Varman died without leaving behind an issue and the control of the country passed to Salasthamba, who established the Mlechcha Dynasty. After the fall of the Mlechchha dynasty in the late 9th century, a new ruler, Brahmapala was elected, who established the Pala Dynasty. The last Pala king was removed by the king of Gaur or Bengal, Ramapala, in 1110. The fall of subsequent kings and the rise of individual kingdoms in the 12th century in place of the Kamarupa kingdom marked the end of the Kamarupa kingdom and the period of Ancient Assam.
So, it is likely that the temple of the Bamuni Hills were created by some ruler of the Pala Dynasty. However, the history is silent regarding the identity of the creator.
The ruins of Bamuni Hill
As one approaches the hill, one can see a huge collection of rocks intermingled with stone architectural ruins including decorative pillars, stone beams & bars , stone artifacts of different sizes & shapes with excellent artwork. A major draw is a cross- shaped bracket lintel ornamented with horned Kirtimukha panels contains the figures of 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Other things which draw attention include floral & geometric designs, figures of gods & goddesses, dancers, musicians & animals of different types.
It is likely that the temple was of Nagara or North Indian style of temple architecture.
The different sculptures indicate that the temple was dedicated to Lord Vishnu as the chief deity.
Stone sculptures of Bamuni Hill
A famous quote says : “Time flies, you say? No, time stays, we fly”. It is actually the fact of life. The ruins of the Bamuni hills echo this truth. Time is still going on, but the era when these ruins were grand temples & buildings, with the people staying there, are no more. Even the History is mute about them. But the ruins are there, to be visited by people of these days, & days to come.