Simraungadh, also known as the heart and soul of open history, art and culture, is in Bara district, Province No. 2. It has successfully preserved and promoted the historical monuments by embracing Nepal’s past. It is the municipality having four Village Development Committees i.e., Golaganj, Amritgunj, Hariharpur, and Uchidin.
Simraungadh, located 20 km southeast of Kalaiya, the district headquarters of Bara, is 4.5 km east-west and 6.5 km north-south. At an average altitude of 300 to 500 meters above sea level, it covers an area of about 26 square kilometers. It is 28km away from Birgunj and 90km away from Kathmandu.
The Government of Nepal has identified 100 places with strong potential for tourism and launched a program to develop them as tourist destinations. Under this, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has also selected Simraungadh in Bara district as one of the 100 new tourist destinations to be promoted.
Simraungadh was established in the Upanishad period and Puranic period as a center of Hindu culture in the ancient Bideha or Mithila region. After a long hiatus, in 1097, Nanyadeva, the general of the Chalukya king of Karnataka, conquered Mithila and made the forest of Simal his capital, which is known as Simraungadh today.
There is a popular fact about Simraungadh related to the forest of Simal, which is mentioned in Gopalar genealogy. In that genealogy, this place is mentioned as ‘Simrawangarh’, which means ‘fort in the forest of Simal’. This forested area of Simal seems to have been changed from Simaravangarh to Simraungadh. The word ‘Simanagarh’ is even mentioned by the Italian priest Casiano, who visited the Kathmandu Valley from 1739 to 1754.
After Nanyadev made Simraungadh the capital of Mithila, the Karnataka dynasty seems to have ruled here from 1097 to 1327. After Nanyadev, Ganga Singh Dev, Narasimha Dev, Ram Singh Dev, Shakti Singh Dev, Bhupal Singh Dev and Harisingh Dev ruled as the last king. In the history of Mithila, this period is called the Golden Age. During this period, the development of religious, cultural and art literature reached its peak.
During the reign of Harisinghdev, the last king of Tirhut, in 1326, when the emperor of Delhi, Gayasuddin Tukalak, destroyed Simraungadh, the king and his nobles moved north. King Harisinhdev died while entering the Kathmandu Valley at a place called Tinpatan in Sindhuli. After his death, a representative of Gayasuddin Tughlaq moved from Simraungadh, the capital of Mithila, to Darbhanga, India.
In the 16th century AD, Lohang Sen, the youngest son of King Mukunda Sen of the Palpali Sen dynasty, conquered the area and then Tirhut came under the rule of the Sen kings of Makwanpur. After that, in the campaign of unification of Nepal led by Prithvinarayan Shah, the Gorkhali army defeated Sen Raja Digvardhan Sen and captured the region. From that time until now, Simraungadh has been integrated into Nepal.
Excavation of Simraungadh
Simraungadh was excavated in 1991, 1992 and 1994 under the auspices of the Department of Archeology and the Italian Government, following instructions from the then King Birendra to study and research the archeological remains. During the excavation, archeological, religious and cultural relics of pre-Karnataka and Karnataka period were found.
The old remains of Simraungadh are still found everywhere. Here you can find burnt rice, pottery, and ornaments. A stone box in Hariharpur VDC, a broken stream of spider shape in Kachorwa village of this area is mysterious. The characteristic of this box is that it gets stuck inside as you dig. Only the outside of this box, which is very artistic, can be seen. The rest is buried in the ground. The locals call it a black box, but they still don’t know what it is.
Thus, the Simraungadh area seems important from an archeological point of view. Even today, the locals believe that the stone idols of this region have divine power.
Tourist Attractions in Simraungadh
- Kankali Temple
The Kankali temple in the middle of Simraungadh is built in the style of a peak built of bricks. The temple is surrounded by a quadrangular building with a spire rising to the top. The idol of Kankali in the temple is carved on black stone. The statue’s round face, large eyes, and strong chest reflect the characteristics of the time. A big fair is held here once a year on the day of Ram Navami in the month of Chait. Normally, the order of devotees is daily.
- Ranibas Temple
About a mile and a half west of the Kankali temple is Ranibas where the temple of Ram Janaki is located. Located in the present Amritganj VDC, this temple gives a further introduction to the architecture of Simraungadh. The main temple is built on a three-tiered belt with an open circumference around it. Metal idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are installed inside the temple. In front of them are statues of Jung Bahadur, Hiranyakumari and Jagat Jung Bahadur.
- Jharokhar Pokhari
This pokhari is also known as Kachorwa pokhari. It is artificial pond which occupies the total land of 87 acres. This pond is believed to be 800 years old, which is the largest man-made pond in Nepal.
- Ishara Pond
Ishara Pond is in front of the Kankali Temple. It is said that the pond is named after King Shiv Singh’s daughter Ishwori Singh.
The temples here can be considered as the second place of the cultural heritage of Simraungadh. However, the idols here, which have succeeded in introducing the overall art and culture of Mithila, Nepal, are on the verge of extinction due to lack of protection. Most of the idols here were mutilated and destroyed during the Muslim invasion. The idols which are left, continue to be stolen and lost. A few years ago, with the help of the Department of Archeology, the idols of the Kankali temple complex were housed in the temple premises. In the similar way, other valuable items should also be placed in the museum to preserve for another generation.
Topics of archaeological and historical significance in Nepal still have much to explore. It is necessary to find and investigate the condition of such heritages left by our ancestors. Without the excavation and equitable evaluation of this region, the search for the history of Nepal’s art will remain incomplete. The joint efforts of the Government of Nepal, local bodies, individuals and organizations are needed to find the valuable items of this region, which has the potential for massive village tourism.
-Article written by: Kusum Kharel for Land Nepal