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SOPARA

It was hard to belive that Sopara was an ancient urban center, that grew around the port of
Sopara 2300 years ago. Sopara is accepted by scholars as the Shuparaka or supprak of ancient
India and was a busy trade center and an important seal of Buddhism. .An ancient Buddhist text
called Divyavadana- an ancient anthology of Buddha tales compiled at the beginning of the
common era, narrates the story of this fabled visit of Buddha. References to the houses,
marketplace and monastery gives is a glimpse of Sopara which is described as a city with a
fortification, a moat and 17 gates It was also one of the administrative units under the
satavahanas and is mentioned in the inscriptions of Karle, Nashik, Naneghat and Kanheri. The
most important that an be seen at Sopara today is the stupa mound which is almost 90m
circumference with steep eastern sides on a brick base, rising more than 5m. the stupa is
surrounded by stone and brick foundation that define a rectangular enclosure entered on the east
and south. Small mounds indicate votive stupas. One of the main sources for understanding the
history of Sopara anf the stupa comes from the grants made by local traders in the early
Shilahara period. A circular stone coffer within the chamber disclosed a remarkable sequence of
caskets of different material, one placed inside the other. The outermost casket of copper
contained almost 300 tiny golf flowers, as well a semiprecious stones, stone beads, a small gold
plaque showing Buddha preaching and an unworn silver coin of a 2nd century satavahana king.
Eight bronze images of about 8th-9th centuries were arranged around the casket. The innermost
casket, of gold, contained pottery fragments, believed to be the pieces of the begging bowl of
buddha. Legends say Buddha visited the Sopara city with 500 of his disciples.
At Sopara coins of Satavahana king shri Yajnashri Satakarni (2nd century CE) was
found). Commerce, trade and faith came together and helped create an aura around the great port
of Sopara. While the first reference to the importance of Sopara comes from an Ashokan edict
dating back to the 3rs century BCE that was found here and is currently housed at the CSMVS
museum on Mumbai, there are frequent references to Sopara as an important commercial and
religious center. The port city witnessed a golden age, due to the lucrative trade with Roman and
Arab world. Traders coming to Sopara from different parts of the world and trading in luxury
goods such as ivory, silk, elephant and horses. This was not only a port city but also a
commercial center and administrative headquarters of North konkan.
The decline of Sopara started after the coming of the Portuguese in the 16th century CE. The
Treaty of Bassein signed on the 23rd of December 1534, between the Sultans of Gujarat who
controlled the region and the Kingdom of Portugal, wrote off the seven islands of Bombay and
the nearby strategic town of Bassein ( Vasai) and its dependencies to the Portuguese