At Vidarbha, archaeologists unearth capital town of rulers who built Ajanta caves 

Since ancient times, the place has been of great significance to the dynasty that ruled during 250-550 CE. It is the same dynasty that built the world-renowned Ajanta caves in Aurangabad.

Written by ANJALI MARAR | Pune | Published: June 12, 2018 2:10:42 pm
Led by project director Virag Sontakke from the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Maharashtra, the team excavated the site in Vidarbha during three seasons between 2015 and 2018. 

A team of city-based archaeologists from Deccan College has confirmed that the Vakataka dynasty ruled from its capital Nandivardhan, or the present day Nagardhan, a large village discovered near Ramtek taluka in Nagpur district. Since ancient times, the place has been of great significance to the dynasty that ruled during 250-550 CE. It is the same dynasty that built the world-renowned Ajanta caves in Aurangabad.

Led by project director Virag Sontakke from the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Maharashtra, the team excavated the site in Vidarbha during three seasons between 2015 and 2018. They have unearthed some vital signs and remains in the form of typical artifacts, belonging to the period of the Vakataka rule.

“Some of the artifacts, including ceramics and ear studs made of glass, were excavated from the site and these were the typical items used during this period,” Shrikant Ganvir, senior archaeologist at the Deccan College and co-director of the Nagardhan Excavation Project, told The Indian Express. What makes the findings more important is the fact that so far, researchers have only managed to get written inscriptions and copper plates, all featuring the Vataka king, Prithvisena.

It is the first trace confirming that the king shifted his capital from Padmapura to Nandivardhan (present day Nagardhan), in Vidarbha. Ceramics, antiquities, bowls and pots, votive shrine and tank, iron chisel, a stone depicting a deer and terracotta bangles were studied by the team, all of which were unique for this period.

Terracotta objects with images of gods, animals, humans, along with amulets, scotches, wheels, skin rubbers and spindle whorls were discovered. An intact idol of Ganesha, without any ornaments, revealed that the deity was among the commonly-worshiped ones, and in this case, meant for private worship. Shantanu Vaidya, another co-director for the project, said: “The excavations were planned and carried out at six different locations. From the materials excavated, we find strong links confirming presence of a capital of Vakataka dynasty here.

Some of the ceramics, according to the researchers, dated back to third to fourth century CE. At a location, another vital sign that came the team’s way was a near-intact clay sealing of the Vakataka empress, Prabhavatigupta, the chief queen of the Vakataka king, Rudrasena II.

“The clay sealing found at the site reveals that the queen was the head of the state post the death of king Rudrasena II. There is also a Bhramhi inscription bearing the queen’s name with a Shankha above it,” a member of the team said. Ganvir said: “There were traces of structures of thick deposits, without any bricks, possibly indicating that before bricks were actually used for construction, there existed flimsy structures at this location.”

Giving some ideas about the lives of the people who lived under the Vakatakan kings, animal rearing was found to be one of the main occupations. Remains of seven varied species of domestic animals, including goat, sheep, pig, cat, horse and fowl were found during the excavation.

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