Category Archives: India

In Mumbai’s nooks and crannies, reseachers are uncovering 1,000-year-old fragments of history

Yahoo News
Aarefa Johari
August 21, 2017

In the courtyard of a police training campus in Thane city’s Police Lines area is a small temple, one among hundreds of local Hindu temples scattered in the nooks and crannies of the Mumbai metropolitan region. Behind the temple, at the base of a large tree, lies an assortment of broken stone sculptures: two plump figurines carved on thick stone slabs, a Shiva Linga, an eight-inch disfigured head of a deity, a small Nandi bull and an intricately-carved slab of white stone depicting a meditating Mahavir.

Most devotees who visit the temple and sit in the shade of the tree barely give these discarded stone fragments a second glance.

Since 2016, however, three archaeology students from the city have taken particular interest in these forgotten stone artefacts. Over numerous visits, the students have cleaned, measured and photographed the pieces, and with the help of their professors, determined the approximate age of each object. While the Nandi bull and the Shiva Linga are perhaps more recent additions, the other stone slabs and figurines are from at least 700 or 800 years ago, dating back to the time when Mumbai and its environs were ruled by the Shilahara dynasty.

“We found this particular site by fluke, but ended up discovering such a rich store of local historical objects,” said Anuja Patwardhan, one of the three students who spent all of last year combing the streets of Thane city in search of the region’s undocumented archaeological heritage.

Patwardhan is among 40 archaeology students in Greater Mumbai who have participated in the Salsette Exploration Project, an ambitious academic research study that aims to discover and document whatever still remains of the pre-colonial archaeology of the Salsette region. Salsette refers to the larger island immediately north of the original seven islands of Bombay, extending from present-day Bandra, Kurla and Chembur to Thane in the north.

‘Surprised to see how much is still available’

The Salsette Project was started in early 2016 by three institutions: Mumbai University’s Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, the Archaeology department of Sathaye College and the India Study Centre Trust, an independent organisation dedicated to research on Indian history and culture.

Since then, two batches of archaeology students from these institutes have conducted ground surveys of the Salsette region, under the guidance of five faculty members heading the project. The researchers have sub-divided Salsette into five sectors, each under the charge of one faculty member and their team of students. The first batch of students completed their share of field work this April, and the project is now being carried forward through its second batch of students. Continue reading

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Kashmir’s lone museum opens for public

Outlook, 11 JUNE 2017

“There are many unique and rare collections in the museum For instance, the Gilgit manuscripts with painted covers of the seventh century regarding Buddhism, a rare bilingual birch bark document in Shardha and Persian of the 16th century relating to the purchase of land and a copy of Shahanama Firdausi (world’s longest epic poem written by a single poet),” he said

Srinagar, Jun 11 Kashmir’s lone Shri Pratap Singh museum is a treasure trove for art lovers, history enthusiasts and curious minds as it houses rare artifacts and items of historical significance, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the state.

Situated on the banks of river Jhelum in Lal Mandi area of the summer capital here, the museum was established in 1898 AD by then Dogra ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Pratap Singh, in his summer guest house, largely based on collections transferred from the state ‘Toshkhana’ (palace treasury).

A century later, the museum got a new building – adjacent to the old one.

Though it has not been completed yet, the museum was thrown open for public recently owing to widespread demands from different quarters.

The foundation stone of the new building was laid in 2008 by then chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and the construction project was handed over to the Police Housing Corporation (PHC), which was scheduled to complete it in two years’ time.
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Experts dig deep to trace the origin of Naga Buddha statues

The 1400-year-old Buddha idol was found recently at Banapur in Khurda district of Odisha.

THE ASIAN AGE. | AKSHAYA KUMAR SAHOO
Published : Jun 3, 2017, 4:03 am IST

The discovery was made by Prof. Anam Behera of Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, and his student Dakhineswar Jena.

Bhubaneswar: The recent discovery of Naga Buddha idol from Odisha’s Banapur area has inspired researchers to conduct further studies to establish if this cult of Buddhist sculpture was prevalent in the state or the statues were brought from other parts of the country. The discovery was made by Prof. Anam Behera of Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, and his student Dakhineswar Jena.

Not only in India, but in countries like Burma, China, Laos and Thailand, many statues are seen where the Buddha is depicted in meditation pose sheltered by a multi-headed snakes, which is depicted in Hindu mythology as Shesh Nag. In Buddhist literature, Buddha idols sheltered by multi-headed snakes are known as the Naga Buddha statues.

According to Prof. Nrusingha Sahoo, a researcher who has discovered many Buddhist sites in Odisha’s Jajpur district, it is yet to be established if the three Naga Buddha statues found in Odisha — two in Ratnagiri of Jajpur district and one in Bolangir district — were made by Odia sculptors or imported from other parts of the country.

“It requires further studies to establish if Naga Buddha statues were built in Odisha also. As far as I know, our researchers have sought the assistance from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and State Museum for further research on the statue,” says Mr Behera.

Sculpture at Odisha’s Ratnagiri. Naga Buddha Sculpture at Odisha’s Ratnagiri.

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On first state holiday for Buddhists in city, grand Purnima plans in store

TNN | Updated: May 10, 2017, 11.03 AM IST

KOLKATA: Buddhists in the city have a new reason to rejoice. After decades of appeals and requests to the state government, right through the regime of Congress to Left Front and now Trinamool Congress, this is the first time that a state holiday has been declared on Buddha Purnima on Wednesday. This is the 2561st birth anniversary of Lord Buddha — the biggest annual occasion for those of this faith. The city has a little over 5,000 Buddhists and at least 35 monasteries.

The two oldest Buddhist monastery-cum-congregations are the Mahabodhi Society (established in 1891 by Anagarik Dharmapal, a venerated monk from Sri Lanka), and Bauddha Dharmankur Sabha that was established by Kripasaran Mahasthabir from Chittagong, just a year later. Both have joined hands for a unique celebration that started on Tuesday, also celebrating the 156th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.

A light-and-sound show was organized at College Square that wove Tagore creations like ‘Malini’, ‘Chandalika’ and ‘Notir Puja’ — that have Buddha as the central theme. The show, designed by theatre group Rupnagar, will be on for the next seven days. The event saw a large turnout of people from the community in the first public programme in Kolkata to celebrate Buddha Purnima. “Now we look forward to the Centre declaring it a national holiday. A large number of South Asian countries have already done that. India should take a cue from Bangladesh, where the heads of state make arrangements to celebrate with senior monks of different Buddhist orders,” said Bhikshu Bodhipala, head of the Dharmankur Sabha.

Members of the community along with monks in the different monasteries participated in the grand preparations for Buddha Purnima ceremonies. Giant brass statues of Lord Buddha were cleaned up and arrangement of fruits, incense sticks, candles and vegetarian food was made for mass feeding. “We encourage people from all communities to visit our monasteries and be part of our festivities. Buddha’s is a message of peace that we are here to spread,” said Hemendu Bikas Chowdhury, general secretary of the Sabha and vice-president of the Society.

Monks and community members will visit Moghalmari, near Dantan in West Midnapur, on Wednesday morning. This is where a 5th century Buddhist vihara is being gradually unearthed by the state archaeology department. The excavation started in the early part of the last decade and it is assumed it might date back to the post-Gupta period.

“This is an extremely prestigious excavation and would have changed the history of ancient Bengal as we know it. However, it is unfortunate that the excavation has stopped because necessary permissions are not coming from the Archaeological Survey of India. On the occasion on Buddha Purnima, we appeal to the ASI to help start the excavation. It is of great significance to Buddhists and we hope that the work starts soon,” Chowdhury added.

A documentary film on Moghalmari, made by Abhishek Ganguly, will be screened thereafter. The celebrations will end with an all-faiths meet in the city.

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3 years after bifurcation, AP still waits for its share of antiquities

Sulogna Mehta | TNN | Updated: May 18, 2017, 02.23 PM IST

VISAKHAPATNAM: At a time when museums are coming up in Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts, the one in the port city is hit by acute manpower shortage. Moreover, three years have passed since the bifurcation of AP, but thousands of antiquities belonging to AP including lakhs of coins are yet to be divided between the two states and still remains with the State Archaeology Museum in Hyderabad.

“Work is under way to set up a district archaeology museum at Vizianagaram, opposite the joint collector’s bungalow. The building is complete and we are expecting it to be inaugurated within a couple of months,” K Chitti Babu, assistant director of department of archaeology and museums, said, adding that apart from three galleries, the museum will also house a ‘Hall of Fame’ and portraits of eminent personalities and royalties from Vizianagaram.

The galleries will showcase prehistoric and excavated materials from Buddhist sites, bronze sculptures, and coinages belonging to various dynasties including those belonging to the Satavahanas, Romans and colonial era, Chitti Babu said.

“The museum will require funds worth Rs 22-24 lakh, which is being released in a phased manner. There has also been a proposal to set up another museum in the old Dutch building in Srikakulam,” he added. However, the museum in the port city has acute staff shortage. “We need at least 20-25 employees including night tourist guides, administrative and clerical staff and attendants,” Chitti Babu said and referred to another problem faced by the archaeology museums in AP.

“Thousands of objet d’art excavated or found in AP have not been divided region-wise and hence they cannot be displayed in the state archaeology museums. After bifurcation, a committee was supposed to be constituted for dividing the antiquities between the two states and proposal was sent to the government from the archaeology department to constitute this body, but still it has not materialised,” he added.

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Anthology to bring history of Ghantasala to light

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A smiling Buddha idol found in Ghantasala in 2014.

The Hindu
T. Appala Naidu
APRIL 27, 2017 00:00 IST

It will be released at Ghantasala Archaeology Museum on May 9

An anthology will be brought out by the State government on Ghantasala, a prosperous sea-borne trade centre where Buddhism flourished between the 1st century and B.C and 3rd century A.D. Marking Buddha Pournami to be celebrated on May 9, the Tourism Department in support of Buddhist monks and Krishna-district based historians will release the anthology, chronicling the rise and fall of the Buddhist site, which was first reported by renowned Archaeologist Boswell (1870-71).

According to available literature, a mound (112 meters dia and 23 feet height) in Ghantasala was first excavated by archaeologist Alexander Rae, bringing the structural remnant of a Mahachaitya to light. Deputy Speaker Mandali Buddha Prasad on Wednesday told The Hindu that the anthology on the Ghantasala village and its Buddhist connection would be released at the Ghantasala Archaeology Museum on May 9.

Historians, archaeologists, epigraphists and others including academicians who shared their association with the Buddhist site will contribute their work to the anthology. Narratives on the limestone panels, coins, antiquities and sculptural panels found here during the early excavations would be documented. Presently, the village has two locations — Museum and mound — which attract the visitors from across the globe.

Conservation

A smiling Buddha statue which was sighted by the locals in an agricultural field was handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India in 2014 while a Buddha stone foot was collected from a mound and being conserved in the village.

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Karumadikuttan beckons pilgrims, tourists

R.Ramabhadran Pillai ALAPPUZHA MAY 06, 2017 06:36 IST

Kerala Buddhist Council is organising Buddha Purnima celebrations at Ambalappuzha

Karumadi, a sleepy village in Ambalappuzha, will resound with chants of Buddhist monks on May 10. A number of Buddhists will gather on the premises of a pilgrim centre where a statue, known as Karumadikuttan, has been installed.

The three-ft high black granite statue, in a sitting posture, has its left half missing. The statue has been considered by historians as part of the remnants of Buddhist culture that existed in the area centuries ago. Recognised as that of Lord Buddha, the statue is believed to be of the period between 10th and 12th century.

The statue was found from Karumadi Thodu, a stream, and was installed at the present location by Robert Bristow, a British engineer in 1930s, according to historians.

The left side of the statue is believed to have been damaged in an attack by an elephant. Though a part of the missing section was recovered from the neighbourhood, there was disapproval on affixing the same on the statue. Dalai Lama visited the site in 1965.

The site was renovated by the government two years ago. The site is at present under the Department of Archaeology.

The Kerala Buddhist Council is organising this year’s State-level Buddha Purnima celebrations in association with the department at the venue, N.Haridas Bodh, organising secretary, said.

Kerala has at least a lakh Buddhist followers, with 20 ‘sanghams’ in various districts, he says. “Buddhist monks from different States and a large number of Buddhists will assemble at the place. Chantings, meditation, and discourses will be organised as part of the celebrations,” he said.

The place is a tourist itinerary and hundreds of domestic and foreign tourists visit the place, said Karumadi Murali, former vice-president of the Ambalappuzha Block panchayat, the chief of a committee formed to renovate the pilgrim centre.

“The 10-cent site is inadequate to contain the increasing flow of tourists. A proposal to hand over more than one acre of poramboke land adjoining the site to the Department of Archaeology is pending with the authorities,” he said.Karumadikuttan beckons pilgrims, tourists

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