Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

2 - The Port of ‘Samandar’ in the Northern Bay of Bengal and its Maritime and Coastal Linkages (c. 800-1500)

Saturday, July 7
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Rudraksha, Lower Ground Floor

The Moroccan traveler al Idrisi in ‘The delight of those who seek to wander through the regions of the world’ (Nuzhatu-l Mushtak) of the mid-12th century c.e., writes, “Samandar is a large town, commercial and rich, and where there are good profits to be made…it stands upon a river which comes from the country of Kashmir. One days sail from this city, there is a large island well peopled and frequented by merchants of all countries…." With this graphic description of the port of Samandar as a prelude, this presentation will address the nature of the port of ‘Samandar’ and explores its linkages with countries of Southeast Asia, north-western Myanmar’s upstream and downstream in particular. The port is associated always in Arabic/Persian sources with bahr Harkal or the sea of Harikela (northern Bay of Bengal). The Silsilat al-Tawā̄rikh composed by Sulayman Tajir in 851 CE is the earliest known source that refers to the Bay of Bengal as Bahr-i-Harkand. There is a general consensus that Chittagong initially flourished as a Buddhist center c. 9th/10th centuries, when Arab Muslim geographers and merchants began to throng the port of Samandar in Chittagong. The presentation will address the key role played by the coasts of Southeastern Bangladesh and North-western Myanmar as initial centers of Buddhism that later embraced Islam, as these transitions were foundational to wider Bay of Bengal networking with the Southeast Asia regions to its east.

Suchandra Ghosh

University of Kolkata, India

Presentation(s):

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2 - The Port of ‘Samandar’ in the Northern Bay of Bengal and its Maritime and Coastal Linkages (c. 800-1500)



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