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Haryana: Along the lost Saraswati trail, a 1,600-yr-old site of ‘continued habitation’

The archaeologists have claimed to have found evidence of “continued habitation” and a religious place, probably a temple, at the medieval site at what would once have been the bank of Saraswati river.

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Chandigarh |
Updated: November 30, 2021 8:56:48 am
A team of officials headed by Haryana Saraswati Heritage Development Board’s deputy chairman, Dhuman Singh Kirmach, and state archaeology department’s deputy director, Banani Bhattacharya, recently visited the site after a villager Balwinder Singh initially found six antique coins in an old fort spread across two acres. (Representational image)

A roughly 1600-year-old archaeological site has been discovered near Haryana’s Sandhai village (Yamunanagar district) with its ties to lost habitations along the legendary Saraswati river.

The archaeologists have claimed to have found evidence of “continued habitation” and a religious place, probably a temple, at the medieval site at what would once have been the bank of Saraswati river.

A team of officials headed by Haryana Saraswati Heritage Development Board’s deputy chairman, Dhuman Singh Kirmach, and state archaeology department’s deputy director, Banani Bhattacharya, recently visited the site after a villager Balwinder Singh initially found six antique coins in an old fort spread across two acres.

Coins recovered from the site

Since then, as many as 33 coins have been found there apart from bricks, earthenware and remains of a statue.

Kirmach said: “There are several old sites at the bank of Saraswati river from Adi Badri to Rajasthan border in Haryana. The signs of habitation show that the people used to settle here because of the availability of drinking water from the river.” Adi Badri (Yamunanagar) is a place in the foothills of Shivalik range, 90 km east of Kurukshetra and is situated at a distance of 9 km from the newly located historical site.

The Saraswati, a mythical river mentioned in ancient Hindu scriptures, is considered sacred by millions of Indians and its existence has been the subject of scientific curiosity. Kirmach believes that the river existed over 5,000 years ago but disappeared underground because of earthquakes and other geographical developments.

About the Sandhai site, a senior archaeologist from the state told The Indian Express: “Of course, there was a settlement. At some places of the site, we have found evidence of habitation, while at other places there were indications of a religious site. Structural evidence has suggested that there was a Nagara-style temple of stones. We also found scriptural evidence of a pillar apart from material related to the base of a construction. There is evidence of continued habitation here. As of now, we are calling it a nearly 12,00 to 1,600-year-old site which means it probably belonged to 4th century AD to 8th-9th century AD.”

Talking about the coins, the official said: “These are Indo-Sasanian coins of Sri-ha type which belong to 7th century in this region. The artifacts found here look like the post Gupta empire to the Gurjara-Pratihara period (8th-9th Century AD). On the basis of this evidence, we can say the date of this site may be between the Kushan era to the Gurjara- Pratihara period. Not much evidence appears to be related to the Kushan era as of now. However, some bricks apparently belong to the Kushan period.”

He added that the “actual chronology of the site will be known after clearance of the vegetation from the site as currently the area is under forest. We have to see how much habitation was there at the site during the Kushan era here”.

“In the entire Bilaspur area of Yamunanagar district, we are finding a lot of old things which means there was habitation at a big scale. Before finalising a report, the archaeologists are planning to confirm the geomorphic, historical and archaeological background of the site. There are a lot of antiquities with the villagers which should go to the archaeology department and there should not be further digging at the site without permission of the department,” an official of the archaeological department said.

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