Budget 2020: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed to develop five archaeological sites across India with on-site museums, as part of the Union Budget 2020-21. The places include Rakhigarhi in Haryana, Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh, Sivasagar in Assam, Dholavira in Gujarat and Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu. With remains of ancient civilisations to relics of royal opulence, these archaeological sites are also attractive tourists destinations. And if you are a fan of historical places and monuments, these sites should be added to your bucket list.
Located in the Hisar district of Haryana, Rakhigarhi is known to be a site of pre-Harappan Civilisation settlement, and later a part of the ancient civilisation itself, between 2600-1900 BCE. Excavated by Amarendra Nath of Archaeological Survey of India, the site revealed remnants of a planned township with mud-brick houses and proper drainage system, according to the official site of Haryana Tourism, along with terracotta jewellery, conch shells, vase and seals, things the Harappans were known for.
We know Hastinapur as the ancient capital city of Pandavas and Kauravas from the epic Mahabharata. Naturally, it is the abode of princely anecdotes and royal conquests. Excavations at Hastinapur reportedly began in 1950-52 on behalf of the Archaeological Survey of India and the items found included arrows, spearheads, shafts, tongs, hooks, axes and knives, amounting to about 135 iron objects. But that is not all. Located in Meerut district, Hastinapur interestingly marks a confluence of religions and is home to several places of worship. Shri Digamber Jain Bada Mandir is one of the oldest temples at the site, among others like Jambudweep Jain temple, Shwetambar Jain temple, Prachin Digambar Jain Temple and Astapad Jain Temple, mentions the official site of UP Tourism.
Hastinapur is also known to be the birthplace of Panch Pyare Bhai Dharam Singh, a disciple of Guru Govind Singh, the tenth Sikh guru, and welcomes devotees in significant numbers, especially at the Gurdwara at Saifpur Karamchandpur.
This place used to be the capital of the Ahom kingdom from 1699-1788, and was formerly called Rangpur. The province was later conquered by the British. Guwahati Circle Archaeological Survey of India mentions excavations conducted at the Karenghar (Talatalghar) complex, the citadel of Ahom power, with structural remains of pathways, long walls, terracotta pipes for drains, vase, and vessels, to name a few. The other important historical site is Rang Ghar, an amphitheatre for the Ahom kings, known to have been used for enjoying sports. Besides Rang Ghar and Talatalghar, tourists can also visit Ahom museum and Sivasagar lake from where the place gets its name.
Like Rakhigarhi, this place in the Kutch district also has ruins of the Harappan civilisation. Deemed the fifth largest Harappan site, excavations hint at how settlers temporarily abandoned the place, only to return and establish a de-urbanised culture, the official site of Gujarat Tourism states. Artefacts excavated range from terracotta items and seals to urns and copper ornaments. About 10 large stone inscriptions have also been found at the site, written in Indus Valley script. Most importantly, it has one of the world’s earliest water conservation systems–a rainwater harvesting system–ever excavated. One can visit these archaeological ruins and also Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary and Chari-dhand wetland conservation reserve.
This archaeological urn-burial site in the Thoothukudi district was brought to notice first by a German, Dr Jagor, and later, an Englishman, Alexander Rea, who conducted excavations between 1876 and 1905, as reported by Archaeological India. In fact, Rea called the site the “most extensive prehistoric site as yet discovered in southern if not in the whole of India”, in an article that appeared in the ASI’s annual report in 1902-03.
Rea had said, “The objects yielded by these burial sites are finely made pottery of various kinds in great number; many iron implements and weapons; vessels and personal ornaments in bronze; a few gold ornaments; a few stone beads; bones; and some household stone implements used for grinding curry or sandalwood,” traced back to a rich ancient Tamil culture, besides the excavated urns which reportedly contained “complete skeletons”.