Category Archives: INDIA

Hilltop Buddhist Monastery Uncovered in Eastern India

Hilltop Buddhist Monastery Uncovered in Eastern India

The first hilltop Buddhist monastery of the Gangetic Valley has been found at Lal Pahari in Lakhisarai district of the state, said its excavation team director Anil Kumar. Excavated during a joint collaboration of the Bihar Heritage Development Society, a part of the department of art, culture and youth affairs and the Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, West Bengal, this finding is believed to be a great centre of Mahayana Buddhism.

The 11th-12th century common era (CE) monastery has some unique features rarely found elsewhere in the country and certainly not in Bihar. Besides wooden votive tablets found, it is the first Buddhist monastery which had a woman monk named Vijayashree Bhadra as its chief. She used to receive donations from Pala queen Mallika Devi.

A large number of metal bangles have been found and all its cells had doors, something unusual for the Buddhist monasteries excavated so far, suggesting that either it was exclusively for woman monks or a mixed one.

Excavated during a joint collaboration of the Bihar Heritage Development Society, a part of the department of art, culture and youth affairs and the Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, West Bengal, this finding is believed to be a great centre of Mahayana Buddhism.

The two burnt clay seals recovered from the site record the name Srīmaddharmahāvihārik āryabhikṣusaṅghasya (the council of monks of Śrīmaddhama vihāra). The language used is Sanskrit and the script is Siddhamātṛkā of about 8th-9th century CE.

The name is equally significant as it indicates how much prestige the Mahāyāna Buddhism enjoyed in early medieval Magadha.

The wooden votive tablets of 5.3×2.3cm each have the figure of a person, probably Buddha, sitting in Padmasana in Bhumisparsha mudra. The lintel at the entrance of the main sanctum sanctorum represents the two Bodhisattvas — Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara.

Anil, who is the head of the ancient history and archaeology department at Visva-Bharati in Santiniketan, said it’s the first ‘vihara’ in the state, which probably gave Bihar its name, like those found at Nalanda, Vikramshila and Telhara were ‘mahaviharas’.

Also, after Nalanda and Telhara in Bihar, any monastic sealing has mentioned the monastery name. While a number of mahāvihāras and in one instance a vihārikā is known from epigraphic and archaeological records of eastern India, no evidence of a ‘vihara’-level monastic architecture has been so far discovered from any part of Bihar.

The only parallel evidence is found in a monastery excavated at Jagjivanpur in northern Bengal, he said.

These findings will be significant in the understanding of the history of monastic Buddhism in early medieval Magadha in general and the history of the historically identified Kṛmilā region in Lakhisarai in particular. This evidence clearly proves that the monastery atop Lal Pahari at Jaynagar was a ‘vihāra’, he explained.

He said the interconnected cells, wooden door frames, three huge bastions on each side of the monastery, the discovery of dozens of wooden inscribed seals/sealings and the evidence of application of red, green, yellow, white and black colours on lime-plastered floors make the architecture of this monastery the first of its kind among the eastern Indian Buddhist establishments.

Anil said this was the first excavation project completed within 3 years in Bihar after getting a licence from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Bihar government in 2017. CM Nitish Kumar had inaugurated the Lal Pahari excavation site on November 25, 2017.

“We have documented 500 sculptures lying all around the site and brought 200 of them to Lakhisarai. The state government should urgently preserve these sculptures as Lal Pahari is one of the five protected monuments of Bihar government in Lakhisarai.

The other four are Satsanda, Bichhwe, Ghosi Kundi and Lai. The 6th site at Nongarh is also being considered for inclusion in the list,” Anil told TOI.

800-Year-Old Inscription Discovered in Southern India

800-Year-Old Inscription Discovered in Southern India

Archeologists have stumbled on a Chola period stone inscription at a lake bund in Mookanur village near Sankarapuram in Kallakurichi district in Tamil Nadu, India.

According to experts, King Vanenja Perumalana Vanakovarayan created the inscription about a canal and connecting lakes during Rajendra Cholan III regime in the Sagarai year 1182 (1260 AD).

“During his rule, a canal was built at the south side of Arni lake, and the canal was linked to a lake in Moorkanur.

800-Year-Old Inscription Discovered in Southern India
Chola period inscription on canals found near Sankarapuram

Another canal, dug up at the south side of the lake in Moorkanur, was linked with a lake in Kaduvanur,” Villupuram Government Arts College History department professor T Ramesh says while explaining the inscription.

Moorkanur is now known as Mookanur, says S Rajagopal, another expert.  The archeology team which found the inscription consisted of professor Ramesh, his student Kumaraguru, Jothiprakash of Mundiyampakkam, and Mubarak of Villupuram.

Chola dynasty

The Chola dynasty was a Tamil thalassocratic empire of southern India, one of the longest-ruling dynasties in the world’s history. The earliest datable references to the Chola are in inscriptions from the 3rd century BCE left by Ashoka, of the Maurya Empire.

As one of the Three Crowned Kings of Tamilakam, along with the Chera and Pandya, the dynasty continued to govern over varying territory until the 13th century CE. Despite these ancient origins, the period when it is appropriate to speak of a “Chola Empire” only begins with the medieval Cholas in the mid-9th century CE.

Statue of Rajaraja Chola at Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur.

The heartland of the Cholas was the fertile valley of the Kaveri River, but they ruled a significantly larger area at the height of their power from the later half of the 9th century till the beginning of the 13th century.

The whole country south of the Tungabhadra was united and held as one state for a period of three centuries and more between 907 and 1215 AD. Under Rajaraja Chola I and his successors Rajendra Chola I, Rajadhiraja Chola, Virarajendra Chola, and Kulothunga Chola I, the dynasty became a military, economic and cultural power in South Asia and South-East Asia.

The power of the new empire was proclaimed to the eastern world by the expedition to the Ganges which Rajendra Chola I undertook and by naval raids on cities of the city-state of Srivijaya, as well as by the repeated embassies to China. The Chola fleet represented the zenith of ancient Indian sea power.

During the period 1010–1153, the Chola territories stretched from the islands of the Maldives in the south to as far north as the banks of the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh.

Map showing the greatest extent of the Chola empire c. 1030, shaded in blue represent conquered territories, shaded in pink shows areas influenced by Chola.

Rajaraja Chola conquered peninsular South India, annexed parts of which is now Sri Lanka, and occupied the islands of the Maldives. Rajendra Chola sent a victorious expedition to North India that touched the river Ganges and defeated the Pala ruler of Pataliputra, Mahipala.

He also successfully invaded the cities of Srivijaya of Malaysia and Indonesia. The Chola dynasty went into decline at the beginning of the 13th century with the rise of the Pandyan Dynasty, which ultimately caused their downfall.

The Cholas left a lasting legacy. Their patronage of Tamil literature and their zeal in the building of temples has resulted in some great works of Tamil literature and architecture.

The Chola kings were avid builders and envisioned the temples in their kingdoms not only as places of worship but also as centers of economic activity.

Gopuram Corner View of Thanjavur Brihadisvara Temple.

They were also well known for their art, specifically temple sculptures and ‘Chola bronzes’, exquisite bronze sculptures of Hindu deities built in a lost-wax process they pioneered; that continues (to a certain extent) to this day.

They established a centralized form of government and a disciplined bureaucracy. The Chola school of art spread to Southeast Asia and influenced the architecture and art of Southeast Asia.

The medieval Cholas are best known for the construction of the magnificent Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur, commissioned by the most famous Chola king, Rajaraja Chola in 1010 CE.

This bright metallic meteorite crashed in India, and it looks pretty cool

This bright metallic meteorite crashed in India, and it looks pretty cool

A meteorite-like object weighing about 2.8 kilograms fell from the sky in Sanchore town of Rajasthan’s Jalore district. The mysterious object, which is believed to be worth crores of rupees, created a one-foot-deep crater in the ground.

The locals informed the police and local administration about the incident. The local police said that several villagers heard an explosive sound when the object fell from the sky and they rushed to the field to see the meteorite-like object. It is learned that the explosion was heard as far as two kilometers. 

It was only after a while that we were able to find an object lying in a 30-centimeter crater. It fell only 100 meters from my house. We immediately notified the authorities,” said Ajmal Devasi, one of the many people who were left stumped by the object.

The meteorite, which stands out for its shiny metallic appearance, weighs around 2.78 kilograms.

According to local reports, it continued to emit heat even three hours after its fall, leading many residents of the area to think it could explode at any time.

This bright metallic meteorite crashed in India, and it looks pretty cool
Meteorite like object falls in Sanchor area in Jalore district at 7 AM on Friday, (June 19, 2020 ) The object weighs 2.78 Kg approx As per geologists, it is a metallic meteorite – very rare and most valuable.

After it had cooled down, the authorities collected the meteorite and put it in a jar for transport. The police have stated that it has been made available to experts for study and that more details about its origin and composition will soon be known.

Images of the meteorite were shared on Twitter, generating great amazement and a number of responses.

This event occurred a few days after a spectacular green fireball crossed the skies of Australia, taking skywatchers by surprise.

The object appeared shortly before 1:00 a.m. (local time) last Monday, according to witness reports from the Pilbara region of Western Australia, Northern Territory, and South Australia.

According to rough estimates, around 500 meteorites survive the entry through Earth’s atmosphere, reaching the surface of the planet each year. Despite this, no more than ten are recovered each year.

This is because many of these meteorites crash into the ocean or land in remote areas on Earth, crashing in places that are not easy to access.

Furthermore, some meteorites crash into the surface during the daytime, which means that they go undetected.

Astronomers can’t generally predict meteorite impacts because most meteoroids traveling in outer space are simply too small to detect.

According to NASA, it is estimated that around 48.5 tons (44,000 kilograms) of meteoritic material falls on Earth each day.

When a meteoroid survives its trip through the atmosphere and hits the ground, it’s called a meteorite.

1,200-Year-Old Sculpture Unearthed in Southern India

1,200-Year-Old Sculpture Unearthed in Southern India

The Hindu reports that an eighth-century A.D. sculpture of Lord Vishnu, one of the principal Hindu deities.

M. Maruthu Pandiyan of the Madurai Government Museum said the style of the sculpture corresponds to the Pandya dynasty, a Tamil-speaking group that ruled in South India and Sri Lanka as early as the fourth century B.C.

An eight century Common Era (CE) sculpture of Lord Vishnu, belonging to the Pandya period, was found at the western bank of the Gundaru river at Ulagani village of Kallikudi block in southern India by a team of researchers from Madurai Kamaraj University.

Madurai Government Museum Curator M. Maruthu Pandiyan and Udhayakumar, a researcher, checked the sculpture based on the information provided by Kannan, a Tamil student of a college affiliated to Madurai Kamaraj University, and Sangaiah, a professor from the college.

Mr. Maruthu Pandiyan said the features of the sculpture indicated that it belongs to the Pandya period. “Mainly, the sacred thread of the sculpture goes above the right forearm and a broad ‘kanthi’ (necklet) studded with big gems adorns the neck.

Similar sculptures of the Pandya period have been found in various places such as Thirumalapuram, Tirupparankundram, and Sevalpatti,” he said.

The sculpture has four hands. Among them, two arms are held up vertically. The right arm has a broken chakra and in the left arm a conch. “The chakra and conch are the main features of the Pandya period,” said Mr. Maruthu Pandiyan.

An eight century Common Era (CE) sculpture of Lord Vishnu, belonging to the Pandya period, was found at the western bank of the Gundaru river at Ulagani village of Kallikudi block in Madurai.

The village has also been mentioned in a book about the inscriptions of the Madurai district, which was released by the State Archaeology Department.

The book mentions that this village had an old name, ‘Kulasegara chathurvethimangalam or Ulagunimangalam.”

Also, a 13th-century Pandya inscription mentioned that the local village administrators had levied a special tax called ‘pasipaattam’ tax (a tax on fishing) for the renovation of the tank.

An Ancient society is 2,500 years older than the Egyptian Pyramids

An Ancient society is 2,500 years older than the Egyptian Pyramids

Ancient Egypt may appear as the epitome of an advanced early civilisation to many by its impressive pyramids and complex rules. However, recent research reveals the civilization of the Indus Valley in India and Pakistan, known for its well-planned settlements and outstanding art, before Egypt and Mesopotamia.

With its impressive pyramids and complex rules Ancient Egypt may seem to many the epitome of an advanced early civilisation. However, new evidence suggests the Indus Valley Civilisation in India and Pakistan, famed for its well-planned cities and impressive crafts, predates Egypt and Mesopotamia

Experts now assume that it is 8,000 years old – 2,500 years older than commonly believed – and still considered one of the oldest cultures in the world. Their study also sheds new light on why the seemingly flourishing civilization collapsed.

A team of researchers from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Institute of Archaeology, Deccan College Pune, and IIT Kharagpur, have analyzed pottery fragments and animal bones from the Bhirrana in the north of the country using carbon-dating methods.

‘Based on radiocarbon ages from different trenches and levels the settlement at Bhirrana has been inferred to be the oldest (>9 ka BP) in the Indian sub-continent,’ the experts wrote in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal. 

They used also used ‘optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) method’ to check the dating and investigate whether the climate changed when the civilization was thriving, to fill ‘a critical gap in information … [about] the Harappan [Indus Valley] civilization.’

While more tests are required, the study suggests the Indus Valley Civilisation pre-dates those of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, which are also famed for their impressive ability to build organized cities.

It’s thought the civilization spread across parts of what is now Pakistan and northwest India in the Bronze Age and at its peak, some five million people lived in one million square miles along citadels built near the basins of the Indus River.

‘Based on radiocarbon ages from different trenches and levels the settlement at Bhirrana has been inferred to be the oldest (>9 ka BP) in the Indian sub-continent,’ the experts wrote in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal
Indian caretaker Hirabhai Makwana inspects the ancient bricks at the drainage site in the ancient town of Lothal. While more tests are required, the study suggests the Indus Valley Civilisation pre-dates those of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, which are also famed for their impressive ability to build organised cities

Pottery and metals discovered at various ancient sites in the region indicate the people were skilled craftsmen and metallurgists, able to work copper, bronze, lead, and tin, as well as bake bricks and control the supply and drainage of water.

Anindya Sarkar, a professor at the department of geology and geophysics at IIT Kharagpur, told International Business Times: ‘Our study pushes back the antiquity to as old as 8th millennium before present and will have major implications to the evolution of human settlements in Indian sub-continent.’ 

The archaeological sites at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan, show the ancient people were adept town planners and farmers.

Discovered in the 1920s, the Unesco site of Mohenjo-Daro is one of the largest and most advanced settlements of the Indus Valley Civilisation, with streets arranged round rectangular brick houses, two large assembly halls, a market place, public baths, and a central well.

Individual households got their water from smaller wells and wastewater was channelled into main streets, with some more lavish properties boasting their own bath and a second storey.

It’s thought the civilization spread across parts of what is now Pakistan and northwest India in the Bronze Age and at its peak, some five million people lived in one million square miles along citadels built near the basins of the Indus River
Indian caretaker Hirabhai Makwana inspects the ancient bricks at the Acropolis site. Experts have previously suggested the seemingly successful and advanced civilization was gradually wiped out when the Indus River dried up as the result of climate change

Experts have previously suggested the seemingly successful and advanced civilization was gradually wiped out when the Indus River dried up as the result of climate change. There are many other theories too, including an Aryan invasion, catastrophic floods, changing sea levels, societal violence, and the spread of infectious diseases.

But the team has come up with a new theory.

‘Our study suggests that the climate was probably not the cause of Harappan decline,’ they wrote.

While the ancient people relied upon heavy and regular monsoons between 9,000 and 7,000 years ago to water their crops, after this period, evidence at Bhirrana shows people continued to survive despite changing weather patterns.

‘Increasing evidence suggests that these people shifted their crop patterns from the large-grained cereals like wheat and barley during the early part of intensified monsoon to drought-resistant species of small millets and rice in the later part of declining monsoon and thereby changed their subsistence strategy,’ they continued.

However, changing the crops they grew and harvested resulted in the ‘de-urbanization’ of cities and no need for large food storage facilities. Instead, the people swapped to personal storage spaces to look after their families.

‘Because these later crops generally have a much lower yield, the organized large storage system of mature Harappan period was abandoned giving rise to smaller more individual household-based crop processing and storage system and could act as a catalyst for the de-urbanization of the Harappan civilization rather than an abrupt collapse,’ the team wrote. 

8th-Century A.D. Rock-Cut Temple Revealed in India

8th-Century A.D. Rock-Cut Temple Revealed in India

On the banks of the Arjuna River at Sivakasi ‘s M Pudhupatti village in India, a three-chambered rock-covered temple, believed to be 1,200 years old, has been identified.

The three-chambered historical site is on banks of Arjuna River at Sivakasi’s M Pudhupatti village; no idols, statues of god identified so far
 

The building, cut in the side of a limestone rock, was riddled with thickets and debris until a week ago when residents in the locality chanced upon it.

While archaeologists have identified the structure as a rock-cut temple,no idol, statue, or relief of gods or goddesses has so far been identified inside the temple’s three chambers — the garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum), ardhamandapam, and maha mandapam. A 20-feet long limestone mound marks the entrance to it. There are traces of cement on the walls and in the ceiling.

Archeologists believe these might have been part of the repair carried out by devotees around 100 years ago.

At several places inside the structure, the limestone is falling apart; there is a massive hole in the ceiling of the maha mandapam. Retired assistant director of the State Archeology Department Dr C Santhalingam said, “The temple is unique in three aspects.

First: It is a Sandhara-type of temple. There is no identified Sandhara-type rock-cut temple in India”. These temples have a circumambulatory passage (pradakshinapath) around the shrine.

Not all temples have these passages, said sources. “Second: The temple has two circumambulatory passages; this is very rare. While one passage moves in a clockwise direction from the ardhamandapam, the second one is adjacent to the mahamandapam,” he added. 

“Third: The temple is carved entirely out of limestone,” he said. The stone is considered an inferior type owing to its features. “This is the reason why there is no artistic design, sculpture, or carving in the temple. However, there are niches on both the sides of the entrance to the garbagriha.

Moreover, there is a stone naga statue in the garbagriha,” said Santhalingam. The residents might have placed it there over a century ago to offer worship. The interior of the structure and the surrounding riverbank were cleaned by the local body.

‘From the Pandian Era’

The temple belongs to the early-Pandian era, around 8th century CE. It is similar to the Valli cave temple in Tiruchendur, which is carved out of sandstone, a rock similar in features to limestone, Santhalingam said. 

India: Archaeologists found 9,000 years old city beneath the surface of modern-day Dwarka

India: Archaeologists found 9,000 years old city beneath the surface of modern-day Dwarka.

The discovery of the legendary city of Dvaraka which is said to have been founded by Sri Krishna is an important landmark in the validation of historical relevance of Mahabharata. It has set at rest the doubts expressed by historians about the historicity of Mahabharata and the very existence of Dvaraka city.

It has greatly narrowed the gap of Indian history by establishing the continuity of the Indian civilization from the Vedic age to the present day. The discovery has also shed welcome light on second urbanization in the so-called ‘Dark age’, on the resuscitation of dharma, on the resumption of maritime trade, and use of Sanskrit language and modified Indus script.

Incidentally, scientific data useful for a study of sea-level changes and effects of the marine environment on metals and wood over long periods has also been generated by underwater exploration. All this was possible because of the dedicated and daring efforts of marine archaeologists, scientists and technicians of the Marine Archaeology Centre of the National Institute of Oceanography

Dwarka Exploration

Dwaraka is a coastal town in Jamnagar district of Gujarat. Traditionally, modern Dwaraka is identified with Dvaraka, mentioned in the Mahabharata as Krishna’s city. Dwaraka was a port, and some scholars have identified it with the island of Barka mentioned in the Periplus of Erythrean Sea.

Ancient Dwaraka sank in the sea and hence is an important archaeological site. The first clear historical record of the lost city is dated 574 A.D. and occurs in the Palitana Plates of Samanta Simhaditya. This inscription refers to Dwaraka as the capital of the western coast of Saurashtra and still more important, states that Sri Krishna lived here.

The first archaeological excavations at Dwaraka were done by the Deccan College, Pune and the Department of Archaeology, Government of Gujarat, in 1963 under the direction of H.D. Sankalia. It revealed artefacts many centuries old.

The Marine Archaeological Unit (MAU) of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) conducted a second round of excavations in 1979 under the supervision of Dr S. R. Rao (one of the most respected archaeologists of India). An emeritus scientist at the marine archaeology unit of the National Institute of Oceanography, Rao has excavated a large number of Harappan sites including the port city of Lothal in Gujarat. He found distinct pottery known as lustrous red ware, which could be more than 3,000 years old. Based on the results of these excavations, the search for the sunken city in the Arabian Sea began in 1981. Scientists and archaeologists have continually worked on the site for 20 years.

The project for underwater exploration was sanctioned in 1984, directly by the then Prime Minister for three years. Excavation under the sea is a hard and strenuous task. The sea offers too much resistance. Excavation is possible only between November and February, during low tide. The sea has to be smooth and there should be bright sunshine. All these requirements effectively reduce the number of diving days to 40 to 45 in one season. In order to make the maximum use of the time available, divers use echo sounder to get a fairly accurate idea of the location and the depth of the object underwater.

The side-scan sonar offers a view of the seafloor. The sonar signals sent inside the water return the signals. Reading of the signals reveals the broad nature of the object underwater. Underwater scooters, besides the usual diving equipment like scuba, were also pressed into service. Between 1983 and 1990, S.R.Rao’s team came across discoveries that cemented the existence of a submerged city.

In January 2007, the Underwater Archaeology Wing (UAW) of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) began excavations at Dwaraka again. Alok Tripathi, Superintending Archaeologist, UAW, said the ancient underwater structures found in the Arabian Sea were yet to be identified. “We have to find out what they are. They are fragments. I would not like to call them a wall or a temple. They are part of some structure,” said Dr Tripathi, himself a trained diver. Dr Tripathi had said: “To study the antiquity of the site in a holistic manner, excavations are being conducted simultaneously both on land [close to the Dwarakadhish temple] and undersea so that finds from both the places can be co-related and analysed scientifically.”

The objective of the excavation was to know the antiquity of the site, based on material evidence. In the offshore excavation, the ASI’s trained underwater archaeologists and the divers of the Navy searched the sunken structural remains. The finds were studied, dated and documented. On land, the excavation was done in the forecourt of the Dwarakadhish temple. Students from Gwalior, Lucknow, Pune, Vadodara, Varanasi and Bikaner joined in to help the ASI archaeologists.

Explorations yielded structures such as bastions, walls, pillars and triangular and rectangular stone anchors.

In 2001, the students of National Institute of Oceanography were commissioned by the Indian Government to do a survey on pollution in Gulf of Khambat, seven miles from the shore. During the survey, they found buildings made of stones covered in mud and sand covering five square miles. Divers have collected blocks, samples, artefacts, and coppers coins, which scientists believe is the evidence from an age that is about 3,600 years old. Some of the samples were sent to Manipur and oxford university for carbon dating, and the results created more suspicion since some of the objects were found to be 9,000 years old.

It is indeed overwhelming to find that what had been discovered underwater at the bay of Combat is an archaeological site, dating back to 7,500 BC and older than any previously claimed oldest sites of civilization.

Findings at the Dwarka excavation site

Marine archaeological explorations off Dwarka have brought to light a large number of stone structures. They are semicircular, rectangular and square in shape and are in water depth ranging from the intertidal zone to 6 m. They are randomly scattered over a vast area. Besides these structures, a large number of varieties of stone anchors have been noticed along with the structures as well as beyond 6 m water depth.

These findings suggest that Dwarka was one of the busiest port centres during the past on the west coast of India. The comparative study of surrounding sites indicates that the date of the structures of Dwarka may be between the Historical period and late medieval period. The ruins have been proclaimed the remains of the legendary lost city of Dwarka which, according to ancient Hindu texts, was the dwelling place of Krishna.

The underwater excavations revealed structures and ridge-like features. Other antiquities were also found. All the objects were photographed and documented with drawings – both underwater. While underwater cameras are used for photography, drawings are done on boards – a transparent polyester film of 75 microns fixed with a graph sheet below. The graph sheet acts as a scale.

One or two divers take the dimensions and the third draws the pictures. The Public Works Department routinely conducts dredging in these waters to keep the Gomati channel open. This throws up a lot of sediments, which settle on underwater structures. Brushes are used to clear these sediments to expose the structures.

Until recently the very existence of the city of Dwarka was a matter of legends. Now, that the remains have been discovered underwater, and with many clues seeming to suggest that this, indeed, is the legendary Dwarka, the dwelling place of Lord Krishna.

A 2,200-year-old inscription discovered in Southern India

A 2,200-year-old inscription discovered in Southern India

In unveiling the forgotten but glorious history of India’s Telangana state which was a part of Asmaka Mahajanapada, the predecessor to an Empire, researchers found an inscription on a rock in Maltumeda village in Nagireddipet Mandal in Kamareddy district written in Ashokan Brahmi script from the 2nd century BC.

This is believed to be older than Dulikatta, Kotilingala, and other inscriptions, which belong to 1st century AD.

A team, comprising MA Srinivasan, a research scholar from Osmania University working on Buddhist archaeology in Telangana, Y Bhanu Murthy, former chief caretaker, Telangana Heritage Department, and B Shankar Reddy, an avid enthusiast of archaeology and surveyor by profession, discovered a label inscription (minor inscription) consisting of five letters in Brahmi script and Prakrit, the language of that period in the village.

Researchers found an inscription written in Ashokan Brahmi script of 2nd century BC on a rock in Maltummeda village of Nagireddipet mandal in Kamareddy district.

The inscription, ‘Madhavachanda’, is on a big boulder on a small hillock on the south of the village, around 500 meters away from the Manjeera river. It was read and certified by the Director, Epigraphy, at the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) in Mysore confirming that the latest finding could be the earliest inscription in Telangana to date.

Another significant aspect is that this strengthens the significance of archaeological sites like Bodhan and Kondapur, which are on the Manjeera-Godavari valley, through which the genesis and growth of the Satavahana Empire can be traced.

Mid-Godavari – The cradle of Telangana’s civilization

“Telangana is a part of Asmaka Mahajanapada that spread from north to south of Telangana, with mid-Godavari as its core area.

We have recorded evidence that kingdoms and civilizations flourished in those times from Asmaka Mahajanapada,” Srinivasan told ‘Telangana Today’. He pointed that no one bothered about the antiquity of Telangana after its merger with Andhra Pradesh and for decades, the concentration was more on Amaravati and Andhra Pradesh.

Rewriting of the Telangana history started only during the last one or two decades. Many researchers wrote about many areas and a lot of evidence was brought out, he added.

The team, which was scouting for early historic sites of ancient Telangana in the Manjeera valley, came to know that there were rock paintings in Maltummeda.

“This confirmed that there were habitations since the Neolithic period in that area. We hoped that we might find evidence of the Satavahana period such as bricks,” he said.

“Shankar Reddy found the rock inscription and informed us. We cleaned it suspecting that someone in the recent past may have made that carving on the rock.

We realized that there were five letters. We took the photographs and sent it to the ASI in Mysore and they confirmed that it was a 2nd century BC inscription,” Y Bhanu Murthy added. The team of enthusiasts frequently visited another site in Demikalam, 10 km from Maltummeda, where there is a cave temple.

What is more significant is that the ASI in Mysore has confirmed that the inscription was 2nd century Brahmi, Ashokan Brahmi to be more specific.

This is Brahmi of Ashoka times and the style is similar to that of rock carvings of Ashoka times. “We don’t understand much of what the inscription is trying to convey. Is Madhavachanda a name of a person or a location? Which religion did he belong to? Or is he saying it is my hillock? We don’t know, we must also search literary text to understand the context of Madhavachanda.

Definitely, it was the early Satavahana period. Satavahanas ruled between 220 BC and 225 AD for nearly 445 years.

The team members said the ASI must take care of the site to protect and estampage the inscriptions to make a replica of it to preserve and publish it. They hoped that the ASI would build a shed or fencing to protect the inscription from direct contact of visitors.