Wednesday, January 25, 2012


The town of Ramu, on the South East coast of Bangladesh close to the rather better known seaside holiday destination of Cox Bazar, is, as we have remarked before, probably one of the most ancient towns in the whole of the Indian sub continent. But what makes it stand out most clearly, in an ever growing pantheon of ancient towns and cities in Bangladesh, is the fact that it is marked, by name, on Ptolemy’s 2nd Century CE map of the area.

Since the major dwellings and other buildings of what was once the Kingdom of Arakan, before being finally annexed by the British to the lands of Bengal in the mid 19th Century, were built almost entirely of wood, there remain few signs of the lifestyle of the aristocracy, or plutocracy, of the area.

At Sikderpara, close to Ramu, what is clearly the ancient burial ground of a Mosque that has been replaced, perhaps many times over the years, stand the decaying remains of these unusually fine Mazars, with legible dating to the early 19th Century.

The name Sikder, still to be found as a family name in Bangladesh, like so many of the family names, including the common Chowdhury, denotes a title, rather than simply a name, a landholder in the complex hierarchy of ancient administration and control.

The villagers tell that there used to be a rather grand wooden house which was the family home of those whose mortal remains lie in this burial ground, revealing in their decaying splendour the riches that were once an everyday sight of hereabouts.

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