The Telegraph
Monday , January 9 , 2012
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Shivling, pottery hint at big discovery

Hazaribagh, Jan. 8: Officials of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Ranchi circle, today excavated a stone shivling and a large number of clay utensils near a stupa at Ma Bhadrakali temple, Itkhori, confirming religious confluence and hinting at a well-developed civilisation that flourished around 9th century AD.

The excavation started under the supervision of N.G. Nikoshey, archaeological superintendent with the ASI’s Ranchi circle. “Today, we recovered a partially damaged 11-inch black stone shivling and several clay utensils of daily use. This is just the beginning. We have tremendous hopes for the area,” Nikoshey said.

The archaeologist added that the discovery of the clay utensils showed the promise of Itkhori being a thriving civilisation in the Middle Ages.

“This excavation will bring the hidden history to all. It is a very important religious centre. We will start scientific excavation after four days,” he said.

Local historians have long held that Gautam Buddha had visited Itkhori, but so far no relic has been recovered to prove this assumption.

“If this gets proven during the course of this excavation, the area will get international attention. Itkhori will get tourists from across the world. It is only a matter of days,” said Nikoshey.

Right now, the area is abuzz with residents who were seen pointing at hillocks near the temple, claiming they would yield historical structures.

Vinoba Bhave University history professor Iftikhar Alam also recounted an interesting story on how the place Itkhori got its name.

“When Gautam Buddha had visited Itkhori, his mausi (aunt) Prajawati had followed him here to persuade him to give up his plan of going to the forest. But Buddha, sitting under a tree with his eyes closed, didn’t hear her. In sadness, Prajawati had murmured ‘ithal khoi’, which in Nepali means ‘I lost him here’. In Pali language, this phrase became ‘iti khoi’, and gradually, the place became known as Itkhori,” said the professor.

Meanwhile, work is also going in full swing to beautify the main temple housing the Ma Bhadrakali idol with marble and red granite. Temple committee sources said the cost of beautification was around Rs 20 lakh.

The Itkhori temple, situated 63km from Hazaribagh, witnesses 2,000 devotees everyday at present.

It is seen as a meeting place of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faiths.

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