Part three: Land of the Hills
Paharpur is a valley in Naogaon, Bangladesh.
The name translates to “land of the hills” and is home to one of the most important historical monuments in the country; the preserved ruins of the Somapura Mahavihara. An intricate and beautiful collection of Buddhist monasteries, they were erected by the second king of the Pala empire, Dharmapala, and his successors between the 7th and 8th century. Damage to the ruins is consistent with fire, but does not indicate a mass burning – the monasteries were likely abandoned as the Muslim invaders gained control of the land.
Today we gaze upon its remnants in utter admiration – an awe-inspiring relic in the melting pot of culture that is the Indian subcontinent.
I am a fire kindled
By kings of old
The powerful thwarted inevitably
By the omnipresent river that is time
The land of the hills
The crackle of my fire therein resounds
Brighter and brighter it grew
As the lineage of kings succeeded
Songs are sung
Through inscriptions by which I am adorned
Ballads intricate with the tales of the enkindlers
A legacy preserved by my indistinguishable flame
So fitting it seemed
An ironic turn of events
That calamity beseeched me in the form of fire
The invaders a herald of the old kings’ expiration
My fire burns everstill
The hallowed walls of my ruin
An eternal memoir of those who came before
A spectacle grand
I am not bound to succumb
To the test that is time
The fires of culture and history
The grandiosity of my ruin
Infinite, boundless, timeless.
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