Groundbreaking: Satellite images aid archaeological excavations in Talakad

Shankar Bennur

ISRO scientists, State archaeologists take up ambitious project

Talakad, a tiny hamlet strewn with ruins, is about 60 km from MysoreStudy reveals huge ‘structure’ buried near Kirti Narayana Temple


— Photo: M.A. Sriram

Anticipation: Archaeologists will soon begin excavations at the Kirti Narayana Temple in Talakad. MYSORE: In what could be described as a significant step in archaeological excavations in Karnataka, scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation (IRSO) and the archaeologists have come closer in a first-ever attempt to make use of satellite-based information for excavations at Talakad, a tiny hamlet strewn with ruins, about 60 km from Mysore.The ISRO scientists, who are aiding the Department of Archaeology and Museums in the excavation of archaeological structures at Talakad, launched the field survey of the site on Thursday.

A three-member team of archaeologists, led by department Director R. Gopal and the ISRO team, are camping at the historical site to find “authentic evidence” of the presence of archaeological treasures, using information derived from satellites.

The ISRO scientists are believed to have told the State archaeologists about a “sizeably big structure” buried about 175 to 200 metres north-east of Kirti Narayana Temple. Further study on the disclosure is in progress for authentication.

“The ISRO team strongly believes, from the images derived from the satellites, that a structure could have been buried close to the temple. They have brought satellite images of the place (where the structure might have been buried) for correlation. If the information matches with the field observations, then it could be one of the biggest achievements in the field of archaeology,” Dr. Gopal told The Hindu.

“It will perhaps be for the first time in south India that excavations are planned on satellite-based information. The experiment could prove significant,” he added.

Dr. Gopal said ISRO scientists had made use of Global Positioning System (GPS) for mapping and surveying the place.

The department had been conducting excavations at Talakad since the last one year. Talakad was identified for the unique experiment since the place is rich in archaeological structures.

While thanking former ISRO chairman and chairman of National Institute of Advanced Studies Kasturirangan for realising the “unthinkable effort”, Dr. Gopal said satellite-based information becomes crucial for future excavations in the State, if the ongoing attempt proves successful.

“Our job has been made easy since whatever is buried under five meters of the earth could be seen from satellite images. We need not employ trial and error method anymore for carrying out excavations. Once the scientists come out with their observations, we shall begin our work on their recommendation,” Dr. Gopal said.

According to archaeologists, the teams will sit together and discuss how to begin excavations. “Since the whole of Talkad area has been scanned, we just have to select potential sites for excavations,” he said. “We have unearthed a structure resembling a bathing place near Kirti Narayana Temple recently.”

The Kirti Narayana Temple was built to celebrate the victory of the Hoysalas over the Cholas, according to records. The temple collapsed in recent years and the Archaeology Department has taken steps to restore it to its original glory. It is widely believed that Talakad came under the control of Wadiyars of Mysore in 1634. The earliest record of the town is found in a Sanskrit work “Dalavana Purana”, where it is associated with the Gangas.

http://www.hindu.com/2008/02/23/stories/2008022354040500.htm

About janamejayan

A Viraat Hindu dedicated to spread the message of Paramacharya of Kanchi
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