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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Time to focus on tangible evidence of Gurugram’s built heritage

Findings reveal the possibility of unearthing more archaeological remains from sites within the district and need to consolidate them to tell Gurugram’s history.

gurgaon Updated: Jul 22, 2019 08:05 IST
Shikha Jain
Shikha Jain
Excavations in these settlements show findings of painted greyware and pottery, thereby establishing evidence from the late Harappan period and even artefacts that date back to Kushana, Sunga, Gupta and medieval periods.
Excavations in these settlements show findings of painted greyware and pottery, thereby establishing evidence from the late Harappan period and even artefacts that date back to Kushana, Sunga, Gupta and medieval periods.((Representative image))
         

Not much remains of the built heritage seen in the Gurugram city or the district, except for one or two Islamic and largely colonial-period monuments. However, this creates an urgent need to focus on the tangible evidence of earlier historical periods of Gurugram that exist in the various artefacts excavated from settlements in the Gurugram district.

The Gurgaon Gazetteer records important archaeological sites excavated in the district, specifically in the settlements of Dhankot and Hathin mentioned in the Gurgaon tehsil and Ata and Sayid in the Nuh tehsil. Excavations in these settlements show findings of painted greyware and pottery, thereby establishing evidence from the late Harappan period and even artefacts that date back to Kushana, Sunga, Gupta and medieval periods.

Dhankot is a significant archaeological site in the district located on the Gurgaon-Farrukhnagar Road, from where painted greyware and pottery were excavated. Even Buddhist remains have been found in this site. The Gazetteer mentions that this place was visited by Lord Buddha. It’s known as Thullkothia (Dhoolkot) in the ancient Buddhist texts. Burnt bricks, terracotta beads, shell and glass bangles were also found in Dhankot excavations.

The rural settlement of Sayid about 3kms from Gurugram city, on the Gurgaon-Dharampur Road, also records findings of painted greyware, apart from two copper artefacts.

Hathin near Palwal also records painted greyware, but the most interesting element here belongs to the Sunga period. It is a Yaksha that depicts legends concerning Buddha’s life. It is embedded in a red sandstone railing dating back to the Sunga period.

The Gazetteer also records other findings in Malab, Sangel and Ujina sites, which were earlier in the Gurgaon-Nuh district, but now fall in the newly formed Mewat district. Interestingly, these areas have revealed coins from Kushana and Islamic period and stone plus terracotta sculptures of Mahisasurdamini, Vishnu, Varaha etc. from the Kushana, Gupta and medieval periods.

Although these archaeological findings are mentioned briefly in the Gurgaon District Gazetteer, more details about these are available from the excavation records of the Archaeological Survey of India and in the research publications of Indian Council of Historical Research and archaeologists such as Devender Handa as well as unpublished PhD works at Kurukshetra University.

The Department of History, Jat Memorial College at Rohtak has published some important research works by Vivek Dangi on Jain artefacts of Haryana, including the Gurugram district. While much research has been carried out on the Hindu and Buddhist remains in Haryana, the role of Jainism in Haryana is much less explored. Dangi lists 28 Jain sites of Haryana in his research that yield evidence of Jainism in the region with 2 of these (Ata and Kasan) being located in the Gurugram district.

The village of Ata is situated 5kms east of Sohna on the Sohna-Hathin Road. It seems that the construction of a new road in this area in 1975 revealed the presence of several sculptures of Jaina Tirthankaras. Two of these sculptures are now housed in a local temple at Aya while the rest are in the custody of the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Haryana.

Ata served as an important centre of art and architecture during the Gurjara-Pratihara period. Two sculptural masterpieces, one representing Uma Maheshvara seated on Nandi and another representing Jain Tirthankara Adinath of the medieval period, were significant findings from Ata.

The settlement of Kasan in Gurgaon district is also equally important. Kasan is one among the three Jain sites in Haryana where bronze sculptures were found. This is an ancient site close to the Kasan village. During the excavation of this archaeological site on August 26, 1997, eight bronzes of Jaina Tirthankars were found. These eight bronze sculptures include one of each of Mallinatha, Munisuvrata, Abhinandannatha, Anantnatha, Adinatha, while the rest three bronze sculptures are of Parsvanatha.

Today, all of these bronze sculptures have been installed in Shri 1008 Mahavir Swami Digamber Jaina Atishay Kshetra at Kasangaon.

These findings clearly reveal the possibility of further archaeological remains from these sites within the Gurugram district and the need to plan future excavations. It is also important to consolidate these piecemeal findings to communicate the history of Gurugram district to the larger public.

(Shikha Jain is state convenor, INTACH, Haryana Chapter, and member of the Heritage Committees under the ministries of culture and HRD. She is the co-editor of the book ‘Haryana: Cultural Heritage Guide’ and the director of DRONAH)

First Published: Jul 22, 2019 00:41 IST

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