History of Nalasopara

History of Nalasopara

Nalasopara, the city comes under Thane district of Maharashtra and remarkably secures its place in history with all the magnificent olden times. The name of the city has its roots in the term Shoorparaka, where Shoor means brave and Paraka means city, which was later called as Sopara.

During primeval time, it was a colossal city of Indian Western Ghats and was one of the major ports for foreign trading. India was trading with Arabia, Eastern Africa, Egypt, Greek and Rome via this port. The city seems to be developed even in 8th and 9th century AD and was a conspicuous Buddhist area, as the excavation in this area revealed the evidences of inscriptions from the era of Ashoka and the ruins of Buddhist Stupas.

A stone coffer was found from the center of the Stupa, which contained 8th to 9th century AD old eight bronze images of Maitreya Buddha. The artefact chest contained four more caskets of stone, crystal, silver and gold and there were plenty of gold flowers along with the thirteen pieces of an earthenware, which seems to be the remains of a begging bowl. From the mound, also locally known as the “Fort of a basket-making king”, a silver coin of Gautamiputra Satakarni was found as well.

This archaeological site in Nalasopara shows the glimpses of fourteen major Ashokan ordinance proving the proliferation of Dhamma (another term for Dharma amongst Buddhists) of Ashoka. The ordinance have been moved to the Ancient History section of the Prince of Wales museum. These fourteen ordinance were like rock hoardings placed at strategic points to spread Ashoka’s messages. The fragment of the 9th rock seems to be a massive octagonal block and the inscriptions on it is in Mauryan Brahmi writing. These stones have survived to tell the conceit history of a great emperor and an enlightening religion.

It seems that Ashoka has strategically used this city to spread his message all over the world, as it was a flourished port being used for overseas dealings. He sent a Greek Buddhist messenger, Dharmarakshita, to propagate the faith in the north-western region of India. This city is also believed to be the place from where Mahendra, the son of Ashoka, left to Sri Lanka with a bodhivriksha.

These days Nalasopara is a not so-famous place, the Stupa is lying abandoned and eroding day by day. Instead of all the negligence, the city secures an eternal place in the ancient Hindu, Jain and Buddhist literature. It also keeps a place in Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, which describes the navigation and trading opportunities along the coastal region of Red Sea with the Egyptian, African and Indian subcontinents. The glorious history of Nalasopara calls for a restoration and preservation work to retain the reminiscence of the nostalgic era.

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