Nala Sopara

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Nala Sopara
Naleshwar Mahadev Mandir in Alkapuri, Nalsopara East
Naleshwar Mahadev Mandir in Alkapuri, Nalsopara East
Nickname(s): Sopara
Nala Sopara is located in Maharashtra
Nala Sopara
Coordinates: 19°24′55″N 72°51′41″E / 19.4154°N 72.8613°E / 19.4154; 72.8613Coordinates: 19°24′55″N 72°51′41″E / 19.4154°N 72.8613°E / 19.4154; 72.8613
Country India
State Maharashtra
District Palghar
Population (2001)
 • Total 564,664
Languages
 • Official Marathi
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 401 203 to 401 304
Telephone code 401203
Vehicle registration MH48
Vidhan Sabha constituency Nalasopara

Nala Sopara, associated with Shurparaka (lit. city of braves; Śūrpāraka) and formerly known as Sopara, is a town within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The town lies in the Palghar district of Maharashtra. The population of the city was 184,664 during the 2001 census. It also has railway station on the Western Railway Zone, approximately 35 km from Mumbai. It is governed by the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC). Nala Sopara is accepted by scholars as the Suparaka or Supparak of ancient India and was a busy trade centre and an important seal of Buddhism. It was also one of the administrative units under the Satavahanas and is mentioned in the inscriptions of Karle, Nashik, Naneghat and Kanheri.

History

Sopara

Sopara (सोपारा) (by some identified with the Ophir mentioned in the Hebrew texts[1]) was an ancient port town and the capital of the ancient Aparanta. The ancient port of Sopara was an important port in western India, which operated under the celebrated port of Cambay. The site of this ancient town is located near the present day Nala Sopara. In ancient times, it was the largest township on India's west coast, trading with Mesopotamia, Egypt, Cochin, Arabia and Eastern Africa.

The Mahabharata and the Puranas state that the Śūrpāraka was reclaimed from the sea for the dwelling place of Parashurama and it became a tirtha for this reason.[2] The finding of the relics in a stupa and the rock edicts (the fragments of the 8th and 9th major rock edicts) of Ashoka in 1882[3] prove the importance of this port town from the 3rd century BCE[4] to the 9th century CE. The Buddhist text Mahavamsa (VI, 46,47) states that the first king of Sri Lanka, Vijaya sailed from Supparaka (Sopara) to Sri Lanka.[5] Ptolemy mentioned this town as Soupara, and it was a major commercial centre during his time[6] According to the Jaina writers, Shripala, a mythical king married Tilakasundari, daughter of king Mahasena of Soparaka. Jinaprabhasuri (14th century) in his Vividhatirthakalpa mentioned Soparaka as one of 84 Jaina tirthas (sacred places). He also mentioned about an image of Rishabhadeva located in this city till his time.[7]

It has also been suggested that King Hiram of Tyre brought gold, precious stones and almug trees for Solomon from this city that was called land of Ophir.[8]

Excavations at Sopara

The stupa of Nala Sopara

In April 1882, Bhagvanlal Indraji, a noted archaeologist, numismatist and epigraphist excavated at the Burud Rajache Kot mound in Merdes village, near Sopara. The ruins of a Buddhist Stupa was found. From the center of the stupa (inside a brick built chamber) a large stone coffer was excavated which contained eight bronze images of Maitreya Buddha which belong to the c. 8th-9th century CE. This coffer also enclosed relic caskets of copper, silver, stone, crystal and gold, along with numerous gold flowers and fragments of a begging bowl. A silver coin of Gautamiputra Satakarni (Satavahana) was also found from the mound. The Bombay Provincial Government presented the Sopara relics to the Asiatic Society of Bombay. The coins and the artifacts found during the excavations at the site of this ancient town can still be viewed in the Asiatic Society, Mumbai museum. In an old Muslim graveyard near Ramkund, the fragments of 8th and 9th major rock edicts of Asoka were found. These rock edicts can be viewed in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai. The site was re-excavated by M.M.Qureshi of the Archaeological Survey of India in 1939-40, when several stone lintels and two small stupas were found on the south side of the main stupa in addition to a few sherds of plain glazed ware of the Muslim period. Anwar Munshi (1972) found a number of Satavahana lead coins at Sopara.[9] In 1956, a fragment of 11th major rock edict was found from a coastal village, Bhuigaon.[10] During an excavation in 1993, a ring well, fragments of Roman amphorae red polished ware and glass (all belong to the early centuries of the Common Era) were found.

The ancient habitation site lies 2 km away from the stupa which overlooks the dry creek on the south and on the east opens to Thane creek. A large quantity of Islamic Glazed Ware, Black and Red Ware were found at the site. It seems that during the Early Historical period Sopara was located on the mainland facing Agashi island on the north and Bassein to the south. The backwaters between the mainland and the island were suitable for the movement and anchorage of ships. Gas and Nirmal villages were once part of the creek. A number of tanks and architectural remains arc noticed in the areas adjoining these villages. All the ancient relics were found in the area between the stupa and the creek. Up to the 19th century this creek was navigable and ships of 20 tonnes used to ply here. The significance of the architectural pieces becomes more important when the surface findings arc taken into account. The area around Bhatela pond is a landing place or bunder, where even remains of a Portuguese jetty and customs house are seen. Exploration (1994) in the adjoining area has yielded Red Polished Ware and Glazed Ware. The evidence is further corroborated by a joint excavation in 1993 carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India and the British Academy, Hyderabad where antiquities of the Early Historical period (Satavahana and Kashatrapa period) — lead and copper coins, semi-precious stone beads, small fragments of Northern Black Polished Ware, amphorae pieces and Islamic Blue Glazed ware were discovered. An earthen wall and a fourteen coarse stone wall with varying sizes of stone blocks were also encountered during this excavation.[9]

It is clearly evident from the archaeological and literary sources that Sopara was the main entrepot dating from the pre-Asokan period up to the 3rd century A.D. and again from 9th to 13th century A.D. There is no evidence of cultural remains from 4th to 9th century and it seems that during this period Sopara had lost its importance. The main cause for the decline of the ancient port of Sopara was due to the effect of siltation caused by a rise in sea level. Further near-shore and off-shore marine archaeological exploration and excavation would be helpful to ascertain the extent of the ancient port city.[9]

Sopara Edicts of Ashoka

The following are translations of the fragments of the edicts found at Sopara by A.L. Basham and Romila Thapar.[11] In these edicts, Ashoka refers to himself as "Devanampiya"(Beloved of The Gods) and "Piyadassi" (The handsome one).

8th Major Rock Edict

"In the past, kings went on pleasure tours, which consisted of hunts and other similar amusements. The Beloved Of The Gods, the king Piyadassi, when he had been consecrated for 10 years, went to the tree of Enlightenment. From that time arose the practice of tours connected with Dhamma, during which meetings are held with ascetics and brahmans, gifts are bestowed, meetings are arranged with aged folk, gold is distributed, meetings with people of the countryside are held, instruction in Dhamma is given, and questions on Dhamma are answered. The Beloved Of The Gods, the king Piyadassi, derives more pleasure from this, than from any other enjoyments."

9th Major Rock Edict

"Thus speaks the Beloved of the Gods, the king Piyadassi: People practice various ceremonies in illness, at the marriage of sons and daughters, at the birth of children, when going on a journey - on these and on other similar occasions people perform many ceremonies. Women especially perform a variety of ceremonies, which are trivial and useless. If such ceremonies must be performed they have but small results. But the one ceremony which has great value is that of Dhamma. This ceremony includes regard for slaves and servants, respect for teachers, restrained behaviour towards living beings, and donations to sramanas and brahmans - these and similar practices are called the ceremony of Dhamma. So father, son, brother, master, friend, acquaintance and neighbour should think,'This is virtuous, this is the ceremony I should practice, until my object is achieved.'"

Demographics

As of 2001 India census,[12] Nala Sopara had a population of 184,664 and it is one of the well-known suburbs in Mumbai. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Nala Sopara has an average literacy rate of 79%, higher than the national average of 74.04%: male literacy is 77%, and female literacy is 82%. In Nala Sopara, 13% of the population is under 6 years of age. This area has witnessed very steep rise of population due to the cheapest property rates in the Mumbai suburban railway area, steep rise of property rates in Mumbai and being well-connected to Mumbai city by local train services. Sopara is becoming dense in population as residents from Uttarpradesh and Bihar are migrating in huge numbers in the eastern part of town.The western part of the town still have its glory as it contains more literate people

Among minority languages, Gujarati is spoken by 17.82% of the population and Hindi by 22.92%.[13]

Places of importance

Chakreshwar Mahadev Mandir

The Chakreshwar Mahadev Mandir (19°25′01″N 72°47′55″E / 19.416982°N 72.798733°E / 19.416982; 72.798733) is a very ancient shrine of Lord Śiva.[14] This is a relatively small temple and is noted as the holy place where Svāmi Samarth performed dhyānam, pratiṣhṭha of a Rām Mandir near-by and blessed a śiṣhya who undertook a sajīva samādhi at this very place. The temple lies at one corner of the Chakreshwar lake in Nalasopara West.[15]

The era of construction is not clearly known. However this is a siddha pradeśa, where many great sages attained mokṣha by serving the Lord. The temple was attacked by invaders and many of the idols were thrown into the nearby Chakreśvar Talao (lake). Many such old and rare idols were recovered later and put up in the current temple structure. The present structure is relatively new and small.

Transportation

Train Network, and Road Network connect Nalasopara with all the other area of Mumbai city. Train, Bus, auto and private taxi services are the mode of transportation. Now the land acquisition started for Mumbai Metro project. Real estate market is in upswing from few month now.

Schools (Alphabetical Order)

  • New Orchid English High School
  • Adarsh Education Society's Kapol School
  • Agape Pre School
  • Avdhoot Bhagwan Ram English High School
  • Avdhoot Bhagwan Ram Vidyalaya
  • B.N.Memorial High School
  • Chandresh Lodha Memorial High School
  • Divine Life School
  • Divine Providence High School
  • Evergreen High School
  • GD Ideal High School
  • Gurukul English High School
  • Holy Angels School
  • Holy Mary English School
  • Holy Cross High School, Nirmal
  • Indira Gandhi school & jr.college
  • Infant JDivine Life School
  • Infant Jesus High School
  • Iris School & Junior College
  • JBS High School
  • Kanchan High School & Junior College
  • Khrist Raj High School
  • Kids Corner
  • KMPD High School
  • Little Flowers English High School
  • Little Star Play Group Nursery
  • Lokmanya High School & Junior College
  • Mother Mary's English High School
  • Mount Mary's High School
  • New English School, Sopara
  • Nutan Vidyalaya
  • Pancham High School & Junior College Of Arts & Science
  • Purushottam School
  • Rahul International School
  • Rana Pratap Madhyamik Vidyalay & JR. Collage (Santosh Bhawan)
  • Raja Shivaji vidyalaya
  • Reckon Public Academy
  • RK International School
  • Rosary International Boarding School
  • Ryan International School
  • Sacred Heart High School
  • Shivaji Vidya Mandir High School
  • Saraswati High School
  • Seth Vidya Mandir
  • SKC school
  • Smt.K.L.Tiwari College of Architecture.
  • Sopara English High School
  • St. Aloysius High School
  • St. Anthony High School
  • St. Augasthi High School
  • St. Francis De Sales High School
  • St. Joseph & Mary Convent School
  • St. Lukes English High School & Junior College
  • St. Mary's English High School
  • St. Paul High School
  • St. Willibrord International School
  • Sudarshan English High School
  • Summer Field School
  • Thakur Vidya Mandir High School
  • The Krayons Pre Primary School
  • Treehouse School
  • U.S Ostwal English High School and Jr. College
  • Vinay Vidyalaya
  • Vidya Varidhi Vidyalaya & Jr. College
  • Vidya Bhushan Hindi Vidyalaya
  • Vidya Bhushan Marathi Vidyalaya
  • Zulekha Begum Balumiyan Zakaria English High School
  • Nirmal vidyalaya, Niraml school

Industrialisation

The eastern part of Nala Sopara is highly industrialized, with small and medium scale units producing a wide variety of goods. Many industries are setup in nallasopara

See also

References

  1. ^ 1 Kings 9:28; 10:11; 22:49; 1 Chronicles 29:4; 2 Chronicles 8:18; Job 22:24; 28:16; Psalms 45:9; Isaiah 13:12
  2. ^ Pargiter F.E. (1922, reprint 1972) Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, Motilal Banarasidass, Delhi, p.201
  3. ^ Times of India article on Sopara, 18 November 2001
  4. ^ Thaper, R. (1997). Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, ISBN 0-19-564445-X, pp.5,236
  5. ^ Thaper, R. (1997). Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, ISBN 0-19-564445-X, pp.82,135
  6. ^ Thaper, R. (1997). Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, ISBN 0-19-564445-X, p.236
  7. ^ "Chapter 19 Places". Thane district Gazetteer. Government of Maharashtra. 2006 [1982]. 
  8. ^ A L Bashman, The Wonder That was India, Picador Press India
  9. ^ a b c "Onshore and Nearshore Explorations along the Maharashtra Coast: with a View to Locating Ancient Ports and Submerged Sites". citeseerx.ist.psu.edu. Retrieved 2015-12-07. 
  10. ^ Ghosh, A. (ed.) (1993) [1956]. "Indian Archaeology 1955-56 - A Review" (PDF). Archaeological Survey of India. p. 29. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  11. ^ Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas (Third Edition);Oxford University Press;Pg.380-381
  12. ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  13. ^ "51st REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER FOR LINGUISTIC MINORITIES IN INDIA" (PDF). nclm.nic.in. Ministry of Minority Affairs. 15 July 2015. p. 151. Retrieved 15 February 2018. 
  14. ^ "Chakreśvar Mahādev Mandir (Nalasopara, Thane)". Tīrtha Yātra. 18 March 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2016. 
  15. ^ "Nalasopara - Buddhist Stupa & Chakreshwar Mahadev Temple - a cycling expedition". Tok. Retrieved 26 May 2016. 

External links

  • Sopara
  • A Case Study of Sopara
  • Kanheri Caves
  • Ancient History of Thane
  • Archaeological Survey of Western India
  • Onshore explorations at Sopara and Kalyan
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