DFCC (Western Corridor) Project feared to be a threat to Ancient Chandravati site

chandrawati-excavation4Ajmer (AII): Dedicated Freight Corridor Project, an infrastructure initiative by the Ministry of Railways, is feared to get entangled with ruins of an ancient civilization, which has led to a tiff between the Ministry of Railways and the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Rajasthan.

The ancient site of Chandrawati, a land spread over 45 hectares in Abu Road of Sirohi district, has some its portion falling in the acquisition of the railway department, where a rail line has been proposed as a part of an industrial corridor. The railway ministry has taken a huge loan from the Japan for this project.

While on one side the archaeology department and Janardhan Rai Nagar, Rajasthan Vidyapeeth, Udaipur are half way done with the excavation and exploration work at the historical site, on the other hand the railway department is eager to commence construction of a rail line there. The said area located to the east of NH27 is presently under the protection of archaeology department, who are not willing to give that land to the railways.

However, railway officials express their inability to change the rail alignment since the land has already been mutated years ago, contracts have been finalized with a deadline of four years. “The highway was made by destroying the ancient site. Remains of a very large fort are located to the west of the highway and now we have come to know that the southern corner of the fort, which falls in khasra number 7854/89 and 786/209, will be destroyed while constructing the proposed railway line,” said Dr Jeevan Singh Kharakwal, director of Chandravati Archaeological Research Project.

The fort is a part of ancient Chandravati township, which probably may have been the residence of the erstwhile rulers. It’s surely a very precious monument of our heritage, which will be destroyed, said Kharakwal. Jeetendra Soni, ADM, had also written a letter to the railway department asking them not to mess up with the land falling under the excavation site to save the heritage site from being destroyed further.

In a recent letter to Hridesh Sharma, Director of Archaeology and Museums, R K Jain, Chief Project Manager of Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd has expressed inability in changing the rail alignment since it would require new land acquisition for a stretch of 4-5 kms through a complicated process which would further delay the project for another three years. “We stand committed to respect and obey all the statutory provisions for ancient archaeological sites and have instructed to stop all activities in its vicinity till a clearance is granted by the archaeological department,” Jain wrote in his letter.

Sharma has been asked to collect and shift the remains from the area falling under railway ownership and issue a clearance letter at earliest to help them carry on the construction work.

About Chandravati site:

Chandravati (Hindi: चन्द्रावती) is a village situated near Abu Road on the bank of the West Banas River in the Indian state of Rajasthan. In ancient times it was an extensive town, and present villages such as Dattani, Kiverli, Kharadi and Santpura were its suburbs. The old ruins, such as temples, torans and images scattered over the large area, bear testimony to its past glory.

History

Chandravati was ruled by the Paramaras of Abu. The first Paramar ruler of the area was Sindhuraja in the early tenth century. The Ugrasena Panwar founded the Panwar rule at Abu. Raja Bhoja (1010-1050 AD) was an illustrious rulers of this dynasty.

In 1024 AD, Chandravati was attacked and plundered by Mahmud Ghazni when he passed through Rajasthan to attack Anahilavada. After defeating Prithviraja III in 1192 AD the Muslim army also attacked Chandravati. In 1197 AD Qutubuddin general Khusrav defeated then ruler of Chandravati Dharavarsha near the foot of Mount Abu.

In about 1315 AD Chandravati passed into the hands of Deora Chauhans. Sahasamala Devada shifted his capital to Sirohi around 1450 AD, and from then on Chandravati lost its glory. It is now a small village.

Arts and Literature

There were a large number of temples in Chandravati. They were mainly Shiva temples and Jain temples.

Many European scholars who visited this area in the nineteenth century have written about surviving artistic specimens. James Tod has given pictures of some of these temples in his Travels in Western India. In 1824 Charles Colville and his party visited Chandravati and found twenty marble edifices of different sizes. One temple to Brahma was adorned with rich and finely executed sculptured figures and ornaments in high relief. Another scholar, Ferguson, found the pillars so highly ornamented in details and varieties that no two pillars are exactly alike.

At present not a single temple is in order. The pieces of old temples were removed and used in temples in distant cities. The many monuments were destroyed by contractors of Rajputana Malwa Railway before independence. The remaining were stolen or were destroyed when Abu Road industrial area was extended.

Rulers of Chandravati patronized literature too. Jain saints wrote some literary works here.

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