07. The River and the Raiders: Bengal, c. 1600—1800

The River and the Raiders: Bengal, c. 1600—1800


Gargi Chattopadhyay


The benevolent Bhagirathi-Hugli of the Ganga river system in the western Bengal, could turn into the worst annihilator by bringing about floods, land encroachments, facilitating retreating bed, hair pin bends and loops, obstructions in the bed, pollution and disease. This article attempts to explore the binary aspects of the river in the context of the two places situated along its bank. It is depicted vis-a-vis the destructive inroads of the Maghs and Firangis in Sagor at the delta where the river was the bringer of the scourge and the Bargi onslaughts in Kasimbazar at the upper reach of the Bhagirathi, near Murshidabad, where the river acted as an impediment to the onslaughts. Nevertheless both the raids would also be discussed in the greater perspective of Bengal as well to lend historical context as and when required. The opening period is seventeenth century as we find the early mention of the Portuguese and Arakanese rovers in Sagor at that time. The closing period is early nineteenth century as both the Bargis and Arakanese Portuguese ceased to be serious threats in the chosen spaces by that time.


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