The Punjab government is planning to start eco-tourism trail in Shivalik Hills where fossils of wild camel,horses and bulls dating back to nearly three million years have been found.
The fossils,found during excavations in 20 villages in Mirzapur and Siswan area near Chandigarh,were sent to Wadia Institute Himalayan Geology in Dehradun. The institute recently sent a report confirming that these fossils were indeed of wild camels,horses,bulls,rhinos and deer.
The identification made by Dr Avinash Chandra Nanda,retired scientist of Wadia Institute states that the camel fossil is three million year old,jaw of a wild bull five million years old,an antelope horn and a wild bull horn 2.5 million year old. Though the region is not known to have rhinoceros,a 2.5-million-year-old jaw of the animal also found in this area, said Jatinder Sharma,Chief Conservator (Hills),Punjab.
As fossils have been discovered in this area,the tourism department,under the Asian Development Project,will start a eco-tourism trail of which these villages will be major attraction. Besides the scenic beauty and wild life of the area being major attractions,Siswan Dam site is picnic spot and can be developed further as a tourist destination, said an officer.
Meanwhile,as expert in fossils,Mukesh Singh,said that more discoveries have been made in the recent times in the area. The fossils were mainly found in Masol village on the foot of the Shivalik hills. Recently we found a fossilised elephant, he said adding that tortoise,giraffe,hippopotamus,crocodile fossils have also been found here. The fossils came to fore owing to erosion, he added.
However,he added that the poor villagers were selling the fossils to collectors for Rs 50 to Rs 300. We have informed the Archeological Survey of India, he said,adding that a fossil museum may come up in Ropar.
Located just 10-km from Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badalss residence and the Punjab and Haryana Civil Secretariat,Masol has for years survived without roads,medical facilities,proper power supply and regular drinking water.