The state government of Tripura in northeastern India is promoting Pilak, a 1-year-old Buddhist archaeological site, as part of a cultural and religious tourism tour. Located in Jolaibari in the South Tripura district, Pilak is part of a chain of Buddhist and Hindu sites in the tri-border region of Tripura, Bangladesh (formerly East Bengal) and Myanmar's Rakhine State (formerly Arakan).
"It is a famous tourist spot in (southern Tripura) which is visited by people from different parts of the country," said the director of the state tourism department, TK Das. “We have created an archaeological tourist circuit, including Chhabimura and Udaipur in Gomati district, and Pilak in South Tripura district. There is an organized trip connecting the three sites. (Hindustan time)
The tourist circuit starts from the state capital Agartala and connects Pilak with Udaipur, a temple city formerly known as Rangamati, where the Tripureswari Kali temple, one of the 51 Shaktipithas, is located. It also includes Chhabimura, famous for its rock-carved panels on a steep hill wall on the banks of the Gomti River.
Pilak is home to a wealth of ancient Buddhist and Hindu carvings, including terracotta and stone temple plaques, two large stone images of Avalokiteshvara from the XNUMXth century, and a sculpture of Narasimha from the XNUMXth century. All these items are on display at the Government Museum in Agartala. Two bronze Buddha statues were also found at Rishyamukh near Pilak. These finds have helped show that the region originally had Buddhist kingdoms before Hinduism spread to the region.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has supervised the site since 1999. The ASI carried out excavations in the early 1960s when brick stupas were discovered. Following further investigations by ASI, statues of the Buddha and other Mahayana Buddhist sculptures have been found in Jolaibari and adjacent mounds.
Uttam Pal, executive engineer of the state tourism department, said the government plans to develop the site for Buddhist tourists from Southeast Asia and elsewhere.
"Since Pilak is declared an archaeological site, no permanent structures can be built within 150 meters of it, but many facilities have been created for tourists outside the restricted area," he noted. “Visitor attendance is remarkably good. The state government has built a tourist bungalow in Jolaibari, near the site. » (Hindustan time)
A senior ASI official added that a stupa had been excavated at Sundari Tila near Pilak under the supervision of ASI Superintendent P. Kumaran. “It is a life-size Buddhist stupa built in the 11th century modeled on the architecture during the reign of Palas of Bengal,” the official explained. (Hindustan time)
According to author and historian Panna Lal Roy, the predominant style among the rock-cut images and sculptures of Pilak shows influences from the Arakan region of Myanmar, the Pala and Gupta dynasties of Bengal, and the local styles resemble cast plates from Mainamati.
Pilak was once part of the Kingdom of Samatata in ancient Bengal. It is one of a series of archaeological sites in Bangladesh that include Mainamati and Somapura Mahavihara. The clay plaques, seals and earliest Hindu and Buddhist sculptures found here date from the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries.