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The Dhumghat-Ishwaripur fort

The Dhumghat-Ishwaripur fort complex, more commonly referred to as the Dhumghat Killa, is a medieval river fort in the Satkhira district of the present-day Bangladesh. The original fort of Dhumghat was situated at the strategic position of the confluence of the Jamuna river (a tributary of the Padma river, not to be confused with the Jamuna river in Northern India) and the Ichhamati river. The fort had extensions running along the two riverbanks, including walled pavilions comprising of the Ishwaripur village as well as the Jahajghata port or the naval base. Founded on an island at the confluence of the two rivers, the fort had natural protection from all four sides, and strong currents in the confluence zone made it impossible for any boat to approach the fort unnoticed. The back end of the fort was made impregnable because of the expanse of the Sundarvana mangrove forest, and the marshy lands along the rivers and tunnels used to make it extremely uncomfortable for people from outside the region to move deep towards the fort. Dhumghat, close to the city of Jessore, served as the capital of the legendary Bara Bhuiyaa King, Raja Pratapaditya, and along with the numerous temple complexes in Ishwaripur and the ruins of the old fort and the naval base, provides a spectacular insight to the pre Mughal era of Bengal.

The History of Dhumghat

The history of Dhumghat is extensively linked with the greater history of Bengal. The first reference of Dhumghat and Ishwaripur is found in the 2nd century AD, when chronicles of foreign traders from northern India and the South East Asia, while describing the flourishing maritime trade routes of south Bengal and the rich kingdom of Gangaridi between the Ganges river and the Padma river, mentioned the ancient port of Ishwaripur and the old mud fort of Dhumghat protecting the trade outpost. Dhumghat fort worked as a naval stronghold in the 6th and 7th century AD for King Sasanka of the Gauda Kingdom in south Bengal, against the continuous invasions of Bhaskarbarman of Kamrupa or modern-day lower Assam as well as those by Emperor Harshavardhana of North India. After the death of King Sasanka, Dhumghat lost its prominence as an outpost till the rise of the Pala Empire. The second Pala Emperor, Dharmapala, and his son, Emperor Devpala, built the stone ramparts of the fort of Dhumghat and extended the fort walls across both sides of the riverbanks, including the Ishwaripur complex into it. This way the port, the village and the island fort came inside the same outer walls, and the village served as a protected food supplying hinterland for the fort during any siege. These walls, still visible at the outskirts of Ishwaripur, date back to the 8th century AD. Under the Sena rule in Bengal, the temples were renovated and the Dhumghat fort continued to protect the trading vessels to and from the other parts of Bengal and Assam, and stayed as a strong trading outpost in the river network of southern Bengal. (more in the History section)

The Fort as we see today

The outer fort walls on both the banks of the Ichhamati river still exist and gives the idea of the height and the strength of the Dhumghat Fort. Inner Walls of the fort as well as the Palace courtyards exist on the island at the confluence of the Jamuna river and the Icchamati river. Ishwaripur as well as the nearby town of Pratapnagar named after Pratapaditya have several intriguing architectures for a tourist to visit this includes the Jam-e-Mosque built in 1703 under the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb, the Chandra Bhairab Temple, a triangular shaped temple complex built during the Sena Period, and the five domed Tenga Mosque built by the Mughal Subedar of Bengal and maternal uncle of Emperor Aurangzeb, Shaista Khan. Ishwaripur is also famous for the Jeshoreshwari Kali Temple which was built during the Gangaridi Kingdom of the 2nd Century AD and rebuilt several times hence after. The Temple is associated with the legend of “51 Sati Pith”, making it one of the greatest Hindu pilgrimage centers. The modern 100 door temple which can be seen close to the Dhumghat fort ground was built during Raja Laxman Sena’s reign in the late 13th century. Also important for a visitor is the Hamman Khana built by Pratapaditya with two big and four small domes as well as the Govindadev Temple built in 1593 by Basanta Ray. One can also see the ruins of the Jahazghata Port close to the fort ground.

Opening Hours

From 7:30 am to 6:30 pm

Open on all days of the week except for Fridays.