Sunday, May 1, 2011

Remnants of Mauryan-era stupas found in Girnar forest

The Hindu : States / Other States : Remnants of Mauryan-era stupas found in Girnar forest
Union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh has asked Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to undertake a thorough archaeological survey of the Girnar reserve forest and the Gir sanctuary in Junagadh district in the Saurashtra region of the State.

In a letter dated April 21, Mr. Ramesh said he was giving the advice on the suggestion of a noted historian from Delhi University Nayanjot Lahiri, who recently visited the reserve forest and found the remnants of two “stupas” which she believed could be of the Mauryan dynasty.

Mr. Ramesh said Dr. Lahiri located one of the stupas, locally known as Lakha Medi, near the Bhordevi temple inside the forest.

The historian reckoned that the stupa must have been about 50 feet high. Its core was of solid bricks, similar to the “Sanchi Stupa – I” (Madhya Pradesh) and the “Stupa at Piprahwa” (Uttar Pradesh), believed to be of the Mauryan era.

She had also found many loose bricks around indicating there could have been other stupas in the vicinity. But what was more alarming was that the bricks from the stupas were being taken away by the locals for renovating the temple.

“Therefore, it is urgent, that there is a complete survey of the stupa with accurate line drawings and photographs followed by careful archaeological conservation,” Mr. Ramesh said.
Better stupa

The historian located another “stupa,” locally called “Rathakot,” near another temple known as “Jina Baba ki Madi,” beyond Hasnapur dam in the Girnar reserve forest. This stupa was found to be in a much better condition.

Mr. Ramesh said Dr. Lahiri believed that if a proper survey was carried out, the reserve forest and the sanctuary could become famous for not only being the only abode of the Asiatic Lions, but also of the country's “historic heritage.”

The survey would require close cooperation between the State Forest Department and the Department of Archaeology.
‘Coral Atlas'

Meanwhile, a first comprehensive “Coral Atlas” of the State — giving not only the figures and extent of the coral reefs across the State's coastline, but also the details of the habitat scenario in each of the reefs — has been released by the State government. The Atlas was prepared by the State-owned Gujarat Ecology Commission with technical assistance from the Bhashkaracharya Institute of Space Applications and Geo-Informatics.

According to Principal Secretary of the State Environment and Forests Department S.K. Nanda, the Atlas would serve as an important baseline in the preparation of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan for Gujarat initiated by the Union Environment Ministry. “It is also a contribution to the State's earnest efforts towards sustainable development,” he said.
Website launched

Along with the Atlas, a dedicated website on Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project was also launched by the State government. The Atlas was the second publication of the GEC after the “Mangrove Atlas of Gujarat” last year featuring thematic maps of mangrove distribution along the State's coastline.

“The initiative by GEC is an attempt to come out with the baseline documentation on the natural heritage in order to ensure effective management of the coastal zone in line with the rising developmental activities on the coastal belt,” GEC member-secretary E. Belaguruswamy said.

Keywords: Jairam Ramesh, Girnar forest, Mauryan-era

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