Below Akbar’s Fatehpur Sikri, lies an ancient Jain city

Fatehpur_SikriBelow Akbar’s Fatehpur Sikri, lies an ancient Jain city

FATEHPUR SIKRI: It was a jungle on December 7, 1999. That was a day before the surveyor from the Archaeological Surveyof India (ASI) identified the mound near the fort of Fatehpur Sikri and ordered the felling of trees.

And within a fortnight, the ASI team laid open the superstructure of an 11th century Jain temple, just half a km away from Mughal Emperor Akbar’s famous fort complex. “There was habitation and it was destroyed. The divine images were broken and scattered helter-skelter by the latter-day invaders,” is how ASI Director General Ajay Shankar briefly put it.

While digging out the trenches at the site, the ASI team came upon one of the richest archaeological caches found since the glorious days of Sir John Marshall. “Dumped one upon the other, it seemed the sculptures were just waiting for is to bring them out into the open,” said 26-year-old archaeologist from Orissa, Arakhita Pradhan. In fact, the Indian Express team which visited the site saw sculptures of Jain Tirthankaras and carved red-stone potteries, sill half-buried between the layers of earth.

jain1Not one or two. But at least 34 exquisite sculptures, of various sizes small, medium and one big have already been retrieved by the ASI team from a 250-sq yard plot at Bir Chhabili-ka-Tilla in Sikri village. And these findings have pushed back the antiquity of Fatehpur Sikri to 2nd Century AD “We’ve found branded red-stone potteries, ornamented with mica dust, from the Gupta period. And the most remarkable thing about these sculptures is that they have inscriptions on them making their dates indisputable,” said R K Dikshit, assistant conservator, in charge of the Fatehpur Sikri.

Most breathtaking of the entire lot was, of course, the six-foot-high partly broken, tribhanga Saraswati from the Jain Pantheon. Of a rare beauty, it wasfound in a face-down position. “It was dug out on January 29. It’s changed the entire worth of the site,” said Dharamvir Sharma, ASI’s superintending archaeologist who is responsible for initiating the excavation. The
excavation, according to Sharma, shows that Fatehpur Sikri was a pre-Mughal city with temples around its periphery. “But we are yet to ascertain when they were demolished,” he said, clearly voicing the premise of his project but hedging on whether it was the Mughals or a Hindu invader of a previous period who was responsible for the wide-scale destruction.

jain2Says historian Harbans Mukhia, who specialises on Medieval India and plans to take a trip to the site: “I’m not surprised by the findings. Medieval society worked in a different manner. Demolitions in that age were conducted as an act of conquest or as an act of re-building. One needs to see them in the right perspective.” The excavation at Bir Chhabili-ka-Tilla is ascinating for more reasons. It shows layers of civilizational deposits, beginning from 2nd Century A.D. (a medium-sized redstone figure of Ambika with an infant Ganesha on her lap and Kartikeya on right side) to 9-10th Century Jain sculptures (a Saraswati from the Gurjar Pratihara dynasty)

However, more than the unique Saraswati (incidentally, dressed only in ornaments) is the 60-cm redstone kund in which 23 of the other sculptures were found dumped, including a black marble Tirthankara. “We just picked them up one by one. Obviously, they were disposed of in a hurry,” a woman archaeologist from Manipur at the site pointed out, as she brushed away the fine dust accumulated on the structure.

By Santwana Bhattacharya

About janamejayan

A Viraat Hindu dedicated to spread the message of Paramacharya of Kanchi
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4 Responses to Below Akbar’s Fatehpur Sikri, lies an ancient Jain city

  1. Anybody having the blood of our fore fathers who witnessed the orgy in their presence with their loved GODS cannot keep quiet. Then they were just silent spectators cursing their KARMA not able to do but watch. This doesn’t mean we act to take revenge on the successors of that inhuman brutes. But they have responsibility to live happily amalgamating with the majority. But that scenario cannot be brought in by just sitting in corner and pray allowing the unscrupulous to prey on us. Hindus have to unite and stand against corrupt regime which encourages division amongst the majority by various methods. Only strong can bring in peace than the weak pleading for it. There are many among the majority who ignorantly feel the present regime is the only one which is going to give a good leadership and the opposition doesn’t have that strength. Partly they are right because many have not read the true past of our culture but could have just studied the text book history in the schools dictated by the BRITISH for their glory and bring in disputes among us and we to feel ashamed of our culture. One of my MUSLIM friends could tell certain amount of atrocities bound to happen br the rulers, that is Moghals. But to day it is republic of India wanting to live together secularly. But the regime is not ready for such unity. It is behaving like another EAST INDIA COMPANY engaged in harvesting the produce of the hard working common people without much remuneration other than giving some tit bits like OLDSGE PENSION, WIDOW PENSION,T V SETS ,CHEAP RICE OR FREE RICE. These are recurring material for the living. What the permanent solutions for the common people it has given? Where is the education for all? All promises, promises, promises. Further bring in disputes among communities and use the heat generated for personal uplfitment and keep the common people at same place where they are Lest the regime will come down. Keep the people ignorant.
    Let majority Hindus raise to bring in changes.

  2. beegee says:

    what does it proves, if proof is required…..
    the govt. should stop appeasement and restore the good old HINDU RASTRA

  3. Priyadarshan Pant says:

    This Dharamvir Sharma from ASI seems to be a typical pussillanimous Hindu! Or else, he is a pseudo-secular. How could he state that the invaders could be either Mughals or Hindus. He has to be highly idiotic. But, then, ASI has for long been flush with such people. Probably, the Congress used to ensure that only such persons would be put in-charge.
    I agree that our Rashtra should be there. At least the rule of those with foreign roots should go from here forthwith.

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