|The ruins of the ancient Nalanda University and Sun Temple at Umga village in Aurangabad. Picture by Anantshutosh Dwivedi
Historians used the occasion of World Heritage Day on Friday to call for proper protection and conservation of the state’s historical marvels.
The experts said Bihar might not have the abundance of natural resources for attracting industries like Jharkhand but it has the global recognition of being one of the most archaeologically rich regions. The archaeologically significant sites are widespread across the state.
Many archaeologists in the state, who burn their blood and sweat exploring the places with rich pieces of history buried under them, have claimed that the existing list of protected archaeological sites both by the central and state governments is still very confined.
There are only 70 places in Bihar, which figure in the list of protected sites by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The state on the other hand, also seems to have been restrictive while adding new places to its list of protect sites. At present, there are 36 places in the list of protected sites by the state archaeology directorate, which works under art, culture and youth affairs department.
The Patna-based KP Jayaswal Research Institute has alone explored 6,500 sites in the state and the excavation wing of ASI and that of the state archaeology directorate also carry out the exploration.
Bijoy K. Chaudhary, the director of the institute, told The Telegraph: “Though not all archaeological sites need to be protected, there are a good number of sites in the state, which need to be included in the list of protected sites. We need to focus on conserving our archaeological sites. Otherwise, they would perish and our future generations would not be able to see the rich history of our state.”
“Many a time, it has been seen that newly explored sites suffer damages after few years in the absence of proper protection and preservation by the government. A lot of time and effort goes into excavating and exploring archaeological sites and all that goes to waste if they are not preserved properly. The documentation of many of the sites also gets delayed at times,” said Anantashutosh Dwivedi, a city-based archaeologist.
Anantashutosh Dwivedi claimed that Umga hills near GT Road in Aurangabad district is perhaps a “hill of temples” in Bihar. “There are more than 25 sun temples on this hill. However, apart from the Umga temple as named by the locals, all other temples are crying for attention. These temples were constructed in the medieval period in Naagar architectural style, which was used in construction of many other sun temples in north India including that of Bhubaneswar,” said Anantashutosh.
Deepak Anand, a faculty at Nava Nalanda Mahavihara and an archaeologist based in Nalanda, iterated on linking archaeology with economy. “A large number of Buddhist sites in the state need the attention of the authorities. For instance, ASI had excavated a stupa of Mahamoggallana, the second disciple of Buddha, in 2007. The excavation report, which has come recently, has claimed that the site is very significant. However, it is still to be protected. If sites like these would be promoted and brought on the global Buddhist pilgrimage map, then they would generate huge revenue for the state as well,” said Deepak.
Senior officials in the state archaeology directorate claimed that steps are being taken to include more sites in the protected list. “We have included seven new places in the list of protected sites by the state archaeology directorate over the past year and we are in the process of including a few more over the next few months,” said Atul Kumar Verma, the director of the state archaeology directorate.