The mound of Khana-Mihir or Baraha-Mihir on Prithiba road, Berachampa, North 24 Parganas, WB.
Part of the ancient archeological site of Chandraketugarh, which is thought to be a part of the ancient kingdom of Gangaridai that was first described by Ptolemy.
The legend of Khana (A medieval Bengali language poet and legendary astrologer between the ninth and 12th centuries AD, also named Lilavati elsewhere) centers around her association with Chandraketugarh (here, a mound has been discovered amongst ruins with the names of Khana and Mihir associated with it) and that she was the daughter-in-law of the famous astronomer and mathematician, Varāhamihira (505 – 587), also called Varaha or Mihira, a jewel among Chandragupta II Vikramaditya’s famed Navaratna sabha.
It is widely believed that Khana was Varahamihira’s daughter-in-law, and an accomplished astrologer, becoming thereby a potential threat to Varahamihira’s scientific career. However, she exceeded him in the accuracy of her predictions, and at some point, either her husband (or father-in-law) or a hired hand (or possibly Khana herself under great duress) cut off her tongue to silence her prodigious talent.
The history of Chandraketugarh dates back to almost the 3rd century BC, during the pre-Mauryan era. Artefacts suggest that the site was continuously inhabited and flourished through the Shunga-Kushana period, onwards through the Gupta period and finally into the Pala-Sena period.
Excavated brick structure at Khana-Mihir.
Archaeological studies suggest that Chandraketugarh was an important town and a port city. It had a high encircling wall complete with a rampart and moat. The residents were involved in various crafts and mercantile activities. Although the religious inclinations of the people are unclear, hints of the beginning of some future cults can be seen in the artefacts. Some of the potteries carry inscriptions in Kharoshthi and Brahmi scripts.
Image Courtesy and copyright: Biswarup Ganguly