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Gurugram could be home to a centre to showcase sites from Harappan civilisation

Gurugram and its surrounding archaeological sites in Haryana are largely unexplored, for, their potential ancient heritage and much more lies beneath the ground than on the surface

gurgaon Updated: Sep 17, 2018 03:46 IST
Shikha Jain
Shikha Jain
Gurugram
Gurugram,Harappan civilisation,Shikha Jain
Shikha Jain, Director of Preservation and Urban Design during the interview with Hindustan Times at her office, South City1, in Gurugram, India, on Wednesday, May 30, 2018. (HT Photo)

A three-hour drive from Gurugram can take one back in time, 6,000 years to be precise, to the largest Harappan site and necropolis of Rakhigarhi.

Who were the people of Haryana and Northern India? Where did they come from? Are we still linked to them? Do we have traces of their DNA, or the rites and rituals in our society that can establish Harappan or Sindhu Saraswathi civilisation as the longest living civilisation, showing continuity unlike other world civilisations of Rome, Greece or Bablylonia? Can our newer cities such as Gurugram learn something from the old Harappan settlements like Rakhigarhi? These are some of the questions being explored by archaeologists and other experts in relevant fields across the world, following the emergence of Rakhigarhi as an international field laboratory over the last five years.

Gurugram and its surrounding archaeological sites in Haryana are largely unexplored, for, their potential ancient heritage and much more lies beneath the ground than on the surface. With advanced LiDAR survey technologies and expert archaeological and geological studies, it is possible, today, to showcase the towns and people of the Harappan period through an interpretation centre/ museum using augmented reality and other digital tools.

Archaeologists have traced maximum number of archaeological sites (1,840 out of 2,340) in Haryana (much more than the neighbouring states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujrat or across the border in Pakistan) which coincide with the Ghaggar basin.The recent one is Rakhigarhi, which was traced by Prof. Vasant Shinde, vice-chancellor, Deccan College and other sites such as Bhirrana, Farmana and Girawar were excavated earlier by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). More recently, excavations were carried out in Kunal by the Haryana State Archaeology and the National Museum.

According to Dr. BR Mani, director general, National Museum, the Haryana government needs to adopt policies for protection of its various Harappan sites before they vanish with increasing development. Prof. V Shinde has suggested that 65-70 hectares of archaeological area be protected at the earliest before timeless heritage sites around Rakhigarhi are lost forever.

While the Haryana government is building a museum at Rakhigarhi, INTACH aims to work with all stakeholders and government organizations such as ASI to create a long-term, sensitive proposal for a chance for locals and visitors to experience Harappan civilisation at various sites and major cities such as Gurugram in Haryana, and is currently working on this Vision Plan. It is also in contact with the locals of Rakhigarhi exploring the craft making (pottery) tradition which Prof. Shinde has identified as one, which has been in vogue since the time of the Harappan civilisation.

Other habits and practices such as putting a bindi, using hand ornaments of the rural women, cooked food and spices are evidence found by archaeologists of some of the continuing traditions in our society that date back more than 6,000 years.

Some of the crucial studies on Haryana’s cultural landscape are carried out through the INTACH Heritage Academy grants by Prof. A R Chaudhari, convener, Kurukshetra Chapter and Dr. Sudhir Bhargava, convener, Rewari Chapter. The Yamunanagar Chapter is currently conducting geo-spatial studies in the region to study the natural divides and course of rivers in association with Indian Institute of Himalayan Studies.

Gurugram can possibly house a Visitor Orientation or Interpretation Centre that introduces the visitors to Sindhu Saraswati settlements and Rakhigarhi and the point from where visitors can plan day trips to explore these ancient sites in the state.

A picture book — ‘Legend of Rakhigarhi’ — designed and conceptualised by the interns from Ashoka University, in collaboration with INTACH, Haryana Chapter, was released last year. The book centres around ‘Rakhi’, a Gurugram girl who visits her grandfather at Rakhigarhi and learns about the ancient town. A complete experience of these ancient towns will be highly enriching for visitors and residents of all ages.

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

First Published: Sep 17, 2018 03:46 IST