The most striking point of the budget this year is the outstanding focus of the government on developing the cultural heritage of India. Modi government has affirmed its commitment for the cultural and tourism sector which has immense potential.
It has announced establishment of ‘Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation’, accord with the status of ‘Deemed University’.
For the promotion of tourism, the government has also announced its plan to develop 5 archaeological sites as ‘Iconic sites’. Under this project, a museum would be established on each site showcasing the artefacts and other antiquities discovered on that site.
Rakhigarhi in Haryana, Hastinapur in UP, Sivasagar in Assam, Dholavira in Gujarat and Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu are the five sites under this project.
Rakhigarhi in Haryana
Rakhigarhi is a village in the Hisar District of Haryana, situated 150 kilometers to the northwest of Delhi. It is the site of a pre-Indus Valley Civilisation settlement going back to about 6500 BCE, as well as the mature Indus Valley Civilisation.
A team of Indian archaeologists have discovered through carbon dating of the skeletons that this site is even ancient than the Indus valley civilization. Research on this site has also discarded the age-old lie of ‘Aryan –Dravid theory’. A team under Professor Vasant Shinde of Deccan College of Archaeology, Pune had started the excavation on this site in 2015. The skeletons were discovered around 1 km from the site, scientist also conducted DNA test of the skeletons. The tests had revealed that the DNA was different from the DNA of the Aryans, debunking the theory that Aryans came from outside the subcontinent. According to an American scientific journal, ‘Cell’, the genome of people of Saraswati civilisation is not identical to the genome of Aryans. The report of the archaeologists also states that early (prehistoric) people of India learned farming, animal-rearing and hunting by themselves, without any influence. Developing this site would sensitise the world about the absurdness of the Aryan-Dravid theory.
Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh
Hastinapur is a city in the Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh. It is said to have been described in Indic texts Mahabharata and Puranas as the capital of the Kuru Kingdom. In fact, archaeologists excavating a site in Hastinapur have found artefacts that bear strong cultural resemblance to the descriptions in Mahabharata.
There are several places in western UP connected to the Mahabharata age. There is also a water reservoir or Draupadi Kund near this city. CCS University’s professor states that even today there are several evidences of Mahabharata. There is a banyan tree, which according to legend was planted by Bheem. A well is also revered here as the bathing place of the Pandavas. Interesting, in 2018, a horse-driven chariot was discovered from this site along with 9 skeletons and swords. ASI has claimed that these relics are of Mahabharata age. Jain community too revere this city as several Tirthankars were born in Hastinapur.
Sivasagar in Assam
Sivasagar is a city in, and the headquarters of, the Sivasagar district in Assam. The place gets its name from the lake Sivasagar, which is situated in the heart of the city. Assam was ruled by the Ahoms for six centuries in medieval India, and Sivasagar served as the capital of the Ahom Kingdom from 1699 to 1788. Various constructions and artefacts belonging to the kingdom have been discovered at the present-day archaeological sites in the region. The city was established by Ahom ruler Raja Siva Singha, it houses Sivasagar Sarovar, Sivadol, Vishnudol and Devidol temples along buildings like Rang Ghar. This could be elemental in the strengthening of cultural bonds with the North-east. In February 2017, Current Anthropology published what has been called a “treasure trove” of new discoveries based on a long-term study (2007-2014) of the north western Indus region. The Indus excavations (Dholavira) show how an ancient society coped with diverse and varied ecologies and a changing environment.
Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu
Adichanallur is an archaeological site in the Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu. Clay urns containing human skeletons have been famously unearthed from this site. The skeletons, which date back to at least 3,800 years, have Tamilian, Australoid, Southeast Asian, East Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean origins. According to researchers, this place is connected to the Pandya dynasty. The antiquities found here had been dated back to the Stone Age. Rare relics of iron, copper and evidence of a gold plate were discovered from this site.
Development of these marvellous sites would enhance the tourism as well as would promote the vibrant culture of the country. It would be a boon for the researchers worldwide to have access to such details of prehistory. Government’s project regarding the upliftment of these sites is commendable.