`Kashi as old as Indus Valley civilization’.
Jhimli Mukherjeepandey | TNN | Kolkata | February 27, 2016:: It’s a perfect example of science meeting faith and technology buttressing myth.
A detailed study conducted by IIT Kharagpur -, one of the latest tech tools -could well turn the clock back on Varanasi, indicating that the holy town has been a continuous human settlement since the days of the Indus Valley Civilization, around 6,000 years ago.The project, funded by the Union ministry of human re sources development (it has released Rs 20 crore just for the first phase), has even attracted the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The PM made it a point to explore the project’s pro gress on Sunday at Varanasi, when he met the IIT-Kgp faculty members and inquired about its possibilities and scope.
The results that have come from a detailed geo-exploration (exploration con ducted through GPS technol ogy) conducted by seven IIT Kgp departments, tracing the different stages through which civilization progressed, and how Varanasi has been able to maintain continuity as a living civi lization, unlike comparable seats of human settlement in the world. The researchers have dug 100-metre-deep bor ing holes all over Varanasi to conclude that there is evi dence of continuous settle ment at least till 2000BC. There are enough indications that by the time the data col lection is over, there would be enough to prove that this date can be pushed back to about 4500BC.The oldest part of this civilisation has been traced to the Gomati Sangam area of Varanasi, as indicated by the underground layers that have already been tested.
The geo-exploration, that is being conducted jointly with the British Geological Survey , has already established the existence of Naimisharanya, a forest that finds mention in the Vedas and in the Kashipurana. This forest was considered mythological all these years.
The researchers are also trying to set up a riverine route from Kolkata to Varanasi to Prayag (Allahabad). “Since ancient times, people used this route but the advent of the railways stopped it. We are trying to re-establish that route,“ said Joy Sen, a senior faculty member of the school of architecture and planning, who is also the chief of the project that has been christened Sandhi. P 2The other departments that are involved in sandhi are humanities and social sciences, computer science, information technology, electrical, electronics and telecommunications and oceanography . The riverine route will be developed to carry tourists, said sources.
Separate heritage trails leading to the five oldest ghats -Asi, Kedar, Dasashwa medh, Panchaganga and Rajghat -are also being created. “We are tracing the ashrams of ancient yogis and spiritual leaders of all religions that dotted the lanes leading to the ghats. Some of these are extinct now, some dilapidated. We will reclaim and restore as much as possible,“ Sen explained. A large part of the project, which began in August last year, aims at creating a green rim and reclaiming the greenery and waterbodies that dotted the entire zone from Sarnath to the campus of Benares Hindu University .Efforts are on to remove encroachment and illegal constructions so that the earlier ecosystem is reclaimed as far as possible. “Varanasi has been the seat of all religions and their holy men, who will all be represented elaborately in the project. Efforts are also being made to establish special zones in areas that are dominated by old age homes and shelters for widows,“ Sen added.
Language, music and iconograohy play a major role in Sandhi.Old texts like Kashipuran or Skandapuran, Mahabharata and Ramayana and the Buddhist text Anguttaranikaya are being re-read for descriptions of Kashi and Kashiraj that were considered mythological all these years.
Courtesy: TOI (Lucknow).