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Chakma royal palace resurfaces in Kaptai Lake

A Correspondent, Rangamati

The remains of a century-old royal palace of the Chakma dynasty resurfaced for the second time in the Kaptai Lake after its submersion nearly forty-six years ago as the lake’s water level fell down drastically due to the long drought this year.The royal mansion went under waters of the Kaptai Lake when the then Pakistan government created the artificial lake by making a dam along the Karnaphuli river in 1960 to execute the Kaptai Hydroelectric Project.

At least 54,000 acres of cultivable land submerged by the dam water and around two million people lost their homesteads.

Earlier, the remains of the mansion surfaced in 1986.

Every day, a large number of curious people are gathering at the site to see the historical palace while many are taking photographs and videos.

Meanwhile, a section of unscrupulous people are reported to have been stealing from the sunken palace by night.

The construction of the two-storey royal palace building under then Rangamati mouza no 116 was completed in 1914 after 12 years’ work.

It gradually turned into the centre of traditional cultural activities of the 13 indigenous ethnic groups who have been living in the Chittagong Hill Tracts from time immemorial.

With the serious fall of the lake water level this summer, many big and small islands along with the historic royal palace resurfaced in the lake.

Every year, the water level of the lake falls down drastically in the beginning of summer season.

Although most local people are saying that the royal palace has resurfaced, others say that the building was situated around 1,600 feet away.

At the site of the surfaced remains, there was a Buddhist temple that was much smaller than the 100 feet X 50 feet two-storey royal palace, said Nirmolendu Tripura.

Besides, the temple had no tiles, he said, adding that if tiles are found there, it can be ascertained that it is the royal palace.

Nandit Roy, uncle of Devashish Roy (present king), however, told The Daily Star over phone that he had no doubt that it was the royal palace. The mansion was situated on the top of a hillock while the temple, about 1,600 feet away from the mansion, was on a low land, he said.

The remains of the royal palace, which no longer belongs to the royal family or Rangamati people, are a national asset, he said, adding that the government as well as people should come forward to protect and preserve the national heritage.

Preservation of the underwater palace requires expertise, and concerted efforts are needed to find out ways for its protection, Nandit said.

The remains of an earlier Chakma royal palace built by King Bhuban Mohon Roy are also seen in Rangunia in Chittagong district.



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