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Purana Quila treasures draw visitors from near and far

Madhur Tankha
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A peep into the exquisite craftsmanship of a bygone era was an eye-opening experience for many

Visitors at the ongoing excavation site at Purana Quila over the weekend.— Photo: Sandeep Saxena
Visitors at the ongoing excavation site at Purana Quila over the weekend.— Photo: Sandeep Saxena

The Archaeological Survey of India’s decision to extend the exhibition of rare antiquities at the ongoing excavation site at Purana Quila here by another day on Saturday drew a multitude of heritage lovers, who got a peep into the exquisite craftsmanship of a bygone era.

For budding archaeologists, the excavation was a kind of live demonstration and enabled them to understand that digging for never-seen-before objects of art has to be done cautiously and scientifically. And they realised that archaeologists and labourers have to work collectively for the excavation to become successful.

According to a first-year student of Delhi University Mandeep Singh, it was a wise decision to convince his friends to travel from Noida to the Purana Quila site on Mathura Road.

“While travelling in the metro, I was apprehensive whether we will be able to see something unique or not. But all my apprehensions disappeared when I stepped into the ancient fort. We saw live demonstration by experts and labours, who worked as a team to dig out rare statues and artefacts. Our interaction with the officials present at the site was fruitful too. We might enrol at a good archaeology institute and become professional archaeologists.”

Class XI student and Nizamuddin resident Mahmood Ansari said public display of artefacts unearthed during the two-month-long excavation was a testimony to the fact that the decision to embark on an excavation exercise was a wise one, considering that the ASI excavation at Unnao came to a naught.

“While at Unnao, the ASI was left embarrassed as it could not discover the 1,000 tonnes of gold, silver or iron ore purportedly lying buried under the ruins of Raja Ram Baksh Singh’s fort in Daundiya Kheda village, at the Purana Quila site the decision to excavate was a sensible one as over 100 antiquities, copper coins and other mesmerising objects from the Gupta, Kushana and Sunga periods have been discovered.”

Manoj Saxena, a student of ancient Indian history and archaeology at Kumaon University in Nainital, said he had come to the Capital to visit his relative. “I came to know about the exhibition at the Purana Quila site had been extended while reading The Hindu . Since I understand the excavation process, I decided to come and observe. I discussed with the team of experts from the ASI, who are keen to discover the painted grey ware pottery.”

It was literally a dream-come-true for Urvashi Batra, a student of history at Delhi University, to see the statue of Vishnu, human and animal figures, bangles and other rare material discovered so far.

“Since I understand the significance of quite a few objects on display here, seeing them in front of me made my heart beat faster. Hats off to the team which has worked hard to discover the rare objects we read about in history books.”

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