A Muslim man’s dream has helped uncover what archaeologists believe may be the remains of an 11th century temple under the Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital (MMCH) complex in the Panbazar locality here.
The temple could be part of a pre-Ahom (Assam between 5th and 13th century) civilisation whose remnants have been found buried elsewhere under this state capital. One such site is Ambari, part of which houses the Guwahati Press Club.
The MMCH authorities had last week engaged a contractor to pull down the dilapidated residential quarters within the hospital complex to accommodate the Regional Diagnostic Centre being built under the National Rural Health Mission.
Demolition specialists Nazrul Islam, Imtiazul Ali and Jehirul were halfway through their assigned job when they came across a half-buried stone pillar. Imtiaz then claimed that he had a dream in which he was surrounded by serpents and a sage-like character asked him not to demolish the stone.
Next day, they dug around the stone and found seven snake motifs at its base. They stopped work and informed the contractor as well as MMCH officials about the stone. They were asked not to “talk nonsense” and to carry on with their work.
“But we did not demolish the pillar as it appeared to be the remnant of an old temple,” said Nazrul. Imtiazul even lit incense-sticks and earthen lamps around the stone-pillar and offered flowers. A priest from a nearby temple later declared that the stone pillar was an ancient Shivalinga. It led local residents turning the site into a makeshift shrine.
However, the state department of archaeology wants the site to be protected from zealots. “There’s no evidence yet that the stone was a Shivalinga, but a preliminary study points to pillar being the remnant of a large 11th century stone temple,” said director H.N. Dutta. Datta has written to the Metropolitan Deputy Commissioner and State Health Department to reserve a portion of the infirmary for archaeological excavations.