A rare 2.5-foot rock-cut idol — similar to those in the UNESCO-listed Elephanta Caves — dating roughly between the eighth and 10th century AD, was found near the eastern express highway at Majiwada in Thane, during construction of a building.
Historians and archaeologists say the site has many small remains of more such idols and structures and this may have been an ancient temple precinct. They have now appealed to the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) to allow them to excavate the site to learn more.
Construction workers said they found the idol a few days ago when they were digging to lay the foundation for a building project, but on Tuesday, locals alerted historians and archaeologists, who rushed to the site, found it was a very rare idol and alerted TMC officials who took possession of the idol.
First to reach the site were senior historians from Thane, Dr Dawood Dalvi and Sadashiv Tetwilkar. The idol is now in the Thane Art Gallery and will likely be part of the museum that has been proposed in Thane.
“It appears to be a very old idol — the exact age will be clear after the carbon dating process, but this kind of a three-faced idol is a rare find in Maharashtra,” Tetwilkar said.
Senior historian Dalvi said: “The idols seem to belong to a period between the eighth and 10th century AD, and from the remains we have found, it looks like the site of an ancient temple precinct.”
“The idols are a living example of the glorious historical importance that the city had during the ancient era,” he added.