We have to visit Sisupalgarh I told myself as I think I make my 50th trip to the city of Bhubaneswar. Being quite close to Kolkata and which also happens to be one of my workplaces it’s not uncommon for me to keep visiting this city both for work as well as for pleasure. For some reason or the other, I have always managed to miss a chance to visit Sisupalgarh. This time however I was determined to make it happen.
The word “Garh” is synonymous with forts across India, be it Nahargarh, Kumbhalgarh, Jaigarh especially in Western India and similarly out here also Garh refers to a forth which once stood here in ancient India.
Location of Sisupalgarh
Surprisingly it is just a few kilometers from the capital city of Bhubaneswar and can be easily accessed by booking an Auto or by hiring a cab with your mobile app. If it were a weekend then it would just take less than half an hour to reach this place.
To be precise it is just 10 kilometers from the center of the town thus it is a short drive away. The only challenge perhaps is locating the two sections once you reach Sisupalgarh as asking the locals for directions is a really bad idea and I am sure they will tell you a completely different route confidently.
Getting a cab was a breeze and within minutes of booking the cab had arrived to pick us up and within 20 minutes we had reached Sisupalgarh according to our GPS on our mobile. We asked some locals and each one of them pointed in a different direction. The board from ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) clearly indicated that we were in the vicinity. We left the app cab and decided to explore the vicinity on foot and sometimes using GPS maps on our mobile.
First Sign of Sisupalgarh
By following our instincts, we could locate the first site, which was the Monumental Gateway. This section has clear Laterite Blocks measuring up to 1.8 meters. While most of these sections either are below the ground or have weathered away, some sections do measure up to 18 of such blocks. Just by looking at these sections one can assume how big and magnificent the original structure must have been.
Search for the Sisupalgarh Pillars
The most famous visual reference that one can find online on Sisupalgarh is the lone standing stone pillars thus the next adventure was to find these pillars and here things turned really confusing. Initially we tried to ask around the houses if there were any ancient stone pillars to which none agreed thus I had to resort to showing reference images on the mobile screen. Some did recognize these but were unable to explain the correct direction due to the obvious language barrier.
Finally, there was one elderly man who seems to know what we were looking for but his expressions were priceless. His reaction after seeing the photo on the phone was that of sadness and regret, for a moment we thought that these do not exist anymore then later did we understand that he was actually trying to convey the fact that this place is very easy to locate.
Somehow, with hand gestures, he told us a rough idea as to where these were and finally we set off to locate the stone pillars. The stone pillars are locally known as “Shola Khombo” which literary translates into sixteen pillars, even though we could not trace all the sixteen pillars there must have been in the past which might have collapsed over the years.
These were located in the middle of a field and we could see them from a distance but as we tried to approach them, we realized that these ancient stone pillars were located in the middle of a field, which in turn was filled with knee-deep stagnant water with a thick layer sludge at the bottom.
We were first very confident that we would be easily able to walk to the middle and it is then I remembered what a local had warned us earlier that there were snakes all around this area due to the stagnant water. Without giving a second thought, we just turned back towards dry land.
We might have to come back during the dry summer season when the water might dry out for easy access.
History of Sisupalgarh
There has been a constant debate amongst historians as to the real origins of Sisupalgarh. What historians have still not been able to pinpoint is the exact date around which this place would have flourished. However there are rough estimates which place Sisupalgarh as one of the earliest settlements in this part of the continent.
Initial excavation work was done in the year 1948 followed by some more work in the 1960s after which not much has been done till early 2000.
The date reference of Sisupalgarh is taken from the inscriptions at “Hathigumpha” (elephant cave) located at Udayagiri & Khandagiri caves. One of the inscriptions refers to this place as “Kalinga Nagari”. As per radiocarbon dating of the artifacts found at this site during excavation work gives a rough date around 1000 BC to 1 BC. But significant increase in population was seen during 3 – 4 B.C.
All these if you sum together make this place very significant in the history of settlements in this country as well and the continent as a whole.
I had traveled to Sisupalgarh along with another blogger – Trekkers of the East.
Location of Sisupalgarh on Map
Other Blogs on Odisha
Diamond Triangle of Odisha -Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri, Udayagiri
Barabati Fort – Lost and Forgotten
Tribal Museum Bhubaneswar
Netaji Birthplace Museum – Cuttack
Odisha State Maritime Museum Cuttack
Daytrip to Chilka Lake from Puri
Daytrip to Raghurajpur Village