3 IITs among 8 institutes to study historical findings at PM's hometown Vadnagar

At BHU, a team of archaeologists and historians will study the historical relations between Modi’s hometown and his parliamentary constituency, Varanasi
Last Updated 28 February 2023, 04:24 IST

Eight prominent educational institutes, including three Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), will study various aspects of findings at the 2000-year old site at Vadnagar, which is prime minister Narendra Modi’s hometown. The Gujarat state department of archeology has recently inked memorandums of understanding with these institutes to carry out “deep research” on various aspects.

Dr Pankaj Sharma, director at the Gujarat Directorate of Archaeology & Museums, said that the state government has signed MoUs with IIT Roorkee, IIT Gandhinagar, IIT Kharagpur, Ahmedabad University, SAL Institute of Engineering, besides Banaras Hindu University.

“These institutes will each focus on different aspects of research. Vadnagar is an ancient town which has been continuously populated since the second century with a complex water management system,” Dr Sharma said.

At BHU, a team of archaeologists and historians will study the historical relations between Modi’s hometown and his parliamentary constituency, Varanasi. The team will seek to unearth what the varsity’s expert team believe were ancient relations between the two towns.

Dr Sharma, too, believes there could be a connection. “Like Vadnagar, Varanasi is an ancient town, and there could have been travel connecting the two towns,” he said.

Excavations at the site by the Archaeological Survey of India which started in 2015 has shown up a complex water management system with over 54 water bodies, and that the site was abandoned sometime between the 4th century and 10th century AD due to harsh climate. Evidence of a Buddhist township, including coins and figurines, were found at the site. Chinese traveller Hieung Tsang has also mentioned Vadnagar and over 340 water bodies in the 7th century.

“These are all technical aspects, which has necessitated the involvement of the IITs. In Vadnagar, Buddhism continued to grow during the 6th and 7th century, while the religion was declining in other parts of the country,” Dr Sharma added.

BHU’s team is headed by Prof Mulul Raj Mehta, an expert in Indian philosophy and religion, and comprises eminent historians, including Prof Atul Kumar Tripathi and archaeologist Prof Vidula Jaiswal. The team will travel to Vadnagar to study the archaeological evidence at the site, which has revealed that Vadnagar was an important centre of Buddhism in the fifth century.

“There are archaeological evidences that Vadnagar was an important centre of Buddhism 1,500 years back, stupas (dome shaped structures erected as a Buddhist shrine) have also been found in the excavations there, and many foreign travellers have also written about Vadnagar in their essays,” Prof Tripathi told DH from Varanasi on Monday.

BHU’s team of experts said that Buddhist monks had travelled to Vadnagar from Sarnath (the place near Varanasi where Gautam Buddha had delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment at Bodh Gaya in Bihar). The experts believe that the monks might have reached Vadnagar via Mathura or Sanchi, which was situated in Madhya Pradesh and was famous for its great stupa and was one of the oldest Buddhis monuments in the country. “There seems to be some relations between Sarnath and Vadnagar,” Prof Tripathi said.

Tripathi, who had been associated with Gujarat Vidyapeeth for many years, said that the work of collection of data was on. “There are enough indications that there existed historical relations between Vadnagar and Kashi....we hope that our study will reveal it,” he added.

Vadnagar, along with rock-cut relief structures of Unakoti in Tripura, and the Sun Temple at Gujarat’s Modhera were added to the tentative list of UNESCO world heritage sites in December last year. The Centre has announced an experiential museum at Vadnagar once the excavations complete, and Rs 100 crore was set aside in last year’s budget for that.

(Published 27 February 2023, 13:51 IST)

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