Chirand, the place from where the civilization in Bihar originated

Bihar is a land of historical significance as various events that took place here has set the course of History. Like the first great Indian empire, Mauryan Empire, was centered in Patliputra (present day Patna). Bihar also was the home of one of the oldest university in the world, Nalanda University. Bihar was the place where Lord Buddha got his enlightenment around 350 BCE. Vaishali, a city in Bihar, was the world’s first republic. And this list goes on and on. The above paradigm is the reason that Bihar has always been the center of curiosity of a History lover.

Adding up to the above list is Chirand, a less known place near Chhapra which is a testimony to Bihar’s significance in history. Chirand is an archaeological site in the Saran district of Bihar. It is the first known site of the Neolithic age. It has a large pre-historic mound (a rounded mass projecting above a surface) containing various artifacts. The mound is known for its continuous archaeological record from the Neolithic age (about 2500–1345 BC) to the reign of the Pal Dynasty, which ruled this place during the pre-medieval period.

A total of 0.5 square kilometers (0.19 sq mi) of the area in the village comes under The Archaeological Survey of India, which mainly holds on the deposition of the Neolithic age. The mound is 1 kilometer (0.62 mi) in length with a deposit of 3.5 meters (11 ft) thickness. An archaeological department board near the protected site reads: “This place is of archaeological importance. Whoever will try to disturb it or damage it would be punished with a fine of Rs 5,000 or three years imprisonment or both.”

Some of the findings in the respected area are:

  • A cache of 88 Kushan period coins was unearthed at the site.
  • Twenty-five thousand potsherds made from clay and mica were unearthed at the site.
  • Wattle and daub huts made of mud and reeds with rammed floors, were found to be the habitation for the Neolithic people. These huts were built below the ground level but later changed to ground level.
  • Black and red ware pots and pans were unearthed at the site. Hearths and oblong shaped ovens were also found in a semi-circular hut.
  • Ornaments like pendants, earrings, bangles, discs and combs made from tortoise shell and ivory were also found.
  • Bone tools, mostly used for hunting, made from antler and long bones of deer and cattle were found in Chirand. It also has stone implements of Celts; Axes made up of quartzite, beast and granite.
  • Idols of Buddha were also found in the area.

Chirand has the second most number of artifacts related to the Neolithic period after Burzahom (Jammu & Kashmir) in India.

Chirand is said to be the place from where culture and civilization spread to the whole of Bihar. W. W. Hunter, a historian, known for publishing nine volumes of The Imperial Gazetteer of India, has recorded an account of this village which he visited in 1871.

The excavation done in this area is not just stratified in the Neolithic age but also touches upon the Chalcolithic and Iron Age settlements. The area also tells the story of the transition in human habitation patterns dating back from 2500 BC to 30 AD. On the top of the mound, there is a mosque, which was built by Sultan Abul Muzaffar Hussain Shah of Bengal in 1503 AD. The mosque reveals ruins of pilasters of Hindu Temples.

Chirand is also a witness to many other intriguing historical events. Like Ananda, a disciple of Lord Buddha died in Chirand. The King of Chero Dynasty, Mayurdhwaj ruled from Chirand as well.

Besides giving a glimpse into history, the place also gives you a wonderful experience of natural beauty. Chirand is situated on the northern bank of the river Ganga together with two other rivers Sarayu and Sone, which crosses the village at a distance of about a few kilometers away from the town. It even has a dry bed of river Gandak.

Chirand is located 14 kilometers south-east from Chhapra. Because of the various rivers surrounding the area, Chirand is very vulnerable to submergence and river erosion. A big part of the village including about 10 metres (33 ft) of the mound is near to submergence. The place needs better care and administration. And to do so, recently the state government proposed an annual festival titled ‘Chirand Mahotsava’ with the support of Chirand Vikas Parishad. A theme park depicting the different civilisations of Chirand is also being planned.

We hope that this unique and less-known place will get the care and preservation that it deserves so that we can stay in touch with and learn more about the origin of our civilization.

Featured image is used only for representational purpose.

Picture courtesy: DD Bihar
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