The exploration took place 84 years after one of such last efforts was made in the year 1938.
This year, ASI, the Archaeological Survey of India, discovered 46 new sculptures in the first phase of exploration in Madhya Pradesh’s Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve. The list includes several Buddhist caves, stupas and Brahmi inscriptions, which are dated back to the 2nd century. They also found some Hindu Temples, dated back to the 9th to 11th centuries and a Varaha sculpture, which is probably the world’s largest one of such, which is also dated back to the same period.
The ASI, which is an Indian government agency that takes care of archaeological research, conservation and preservation of monuments in India, tweeted about this exploration on September 28. They wrote, “In Bandhavgarh Forest Reserve, remarkable archaeological remains unraveled by @ASIGoI. In an exploration 26 temples, 26 caves, 2 monasteries, 2 votive stupas, 24 inscriptions, 46 sculptures, other scattered remains & 19 water structure are recorded.”
Details of 46 new sculptures are:
- Varaha Sculpture, a monolithic sculpture of the 10th incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
- 26 Buddhist caves with ‘Chaitya’ (rounded doors) and stone beds. With these 26 new caves, the total number of caves found in Bandhavgarh becomes 76.
- 24 Brahmi inscriptions. The inscriptions mention the sites like Pavata, Mathura and Kaushambi, Sapatanaairikaa and Vejabharada.
- The inscriptions also mention the kings such as Bhimsena, Pothasiri and Bhattadeva.
- The ruins of 26 temples are dated back to the 9th to 11th centuries, to the Kalachuri period.
- Moreover, two Saiva mutts and some remains of the Gupta period like carvings in caves and door jambs are also found on the site.
Shivakant Bajpai, Superintending Archaeologist, Jabalpur Circle, Madhya Pradesh, who also led the searching, said on Wednesday that the exploration is being carried out in three phases. And, these 46 new sculptures are found in the first phase, which happened in the Taala Zone in May and June covering an area of 170 square kilometres. In the next two phases, the Khitouli and Magadhi Zones of Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve will be explored.
The exploration has undeniably added a new chapter to the history of Baghelkhand, Madhya Pradesh, as well as the country. Addressing the press, ASI’s spokesperson, Vasant Swarnkar said “We certainly need to conserve this, but the first step has to be documentation, though we want to explore faster, the problem is with permissions as it is a reserved forest area.”