Archaeological museum coming up in Modi’s hometown
Ahmedabad, Nov 4 : A new archaeological museum, coming up in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hometown Vadnagar in Gujarat, will house coins dating back to 3rd century BC and artifacts excavated from the area over the last 13 years besides other rare items, an official has said.
The design of the new museum, spread over 6,000 square metres, was approved by Modi in 2012, when he was chief minister, Y S Rawat, Officer on Special Duty at the state’s sports, youth and cultural activities department, told PTI.
Six years after the approval of the design, actual construction on the new archaeological museum began a couple of months ago.
The construction was delayed by several years as two contractors backed out of the project due to issues arising out of the building’s designs, Rawat said.
The new museum will replace the old one built in the town in 1996 which was partly damaged in the 2001 earthquake, he said.
The new museum is coming up on the outskirts of Vadnagar, while the existing one is located in city limits.
“Designed by noted architecture Neelkanth Chhaya of the Ahmedabad-based Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), the museum will have six galleries, a canteen, scholars’ space and carry Buddhist elements like a pillar with bells, among others,” he said.
“The museum will showcase artifacts unearthed during two excavation exercises – one carried by the state archaeological department between 2005 and 2012 and the other by the Archaeological Survey of India after 2014,” Rawat said.
In his travel accounts, 7th century Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang had talked about the existence of 11 monasteries in the area.
A team of the state archaeological department had managed to unearth one monastery in Vadnagar in 2008.
The ASI also recently unearthed a large structure along the eastern bank of the Sarmishtha lake in the town, but it is not that of a monastery, Rawat said.
The new museum will display materials like coins dating back to 3rd century BC, seal impressions from the 4th to 8th century AD – indicating the region was a trading centre – terracota forms, iron nails, copper implements, pendents, images and beads, among other items, the officer said.
Sculptures and ancient images from Hindu mythology collected from Vadnagar and nearby areas and copper plates dating back to 6th century AD – displayed in the existing museum – will be shifted to the new building, he said.
“These materials are currently being documented and classified,” Rawat said.
Vadnagar, located about 100km from Ahmedabad, in Mehsana district, was fortified with mud ramparts between 3rd century BC and 1st century AD, he said.
Around 1st century AD, mud walls were converted into brick walls remains of which still exit, Rawat said.
“The accessibility to the existing museum has become difficult due to narrow and crowded lanes leading to it.
“The new museum, on the other hand, is strategically located near the main highway so that tourists do not have problem accessing it,” Rawat said.