Relocating Ashokan Pillars at Topra is not feasible say experts


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THE BUDDHIST Forum in Haryana wants to ‘reform’ the history of the region by making a serious call for pulling up the bifurcated Ashokan pillars at Fatehabad and Hisar and re-installing them at Topra near Ambala, their original home from where the edifice was taken away by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in the middle of 14th Centruy AD.

Renowned historians have terms the idea as an silly outcry created in haste. In fact the original, full-length pillar situated at Topra on the western bank of the river Jamuna in Ambala district was ordered to be fragmented and wrapped in cotton mattresses by Feroz Shah Tughlaq and transported to the then newly founded (1351-53 AD) towns of Hisar and Fatehabad in the erstwhile greater Punjab located on the old Dilli-Multan military highway, nowadays renamed as NH-10.
The pieces were loaded in an improvised trawler made of several bullock carts attached together in a row with a device known as ‘Joor’ i.e. an additional yoke, attached to the front cart. This art of transportation technique was known to the peasants of Haryana from ancient times of which Feroz Shah made good use. The upper sections of the pillar were taken to Fatehabad and installed at the north-eastern rampart of the mud-brick fort whereas the lower and wider ones retained for installing at Hisar-e-Feroza. 

It is an open fact that intense encroachments that took possession of the land on the mound was a slow process that could have been blocked by local administration, which regrettably botched to take adequate legal measures to check haphazard expansion of the town resulting in immense difficulties for the Archaeological Survey of India in the task of preservation of the site as well as vestiges of several edifices of the Tughlaq era. 

The huge mound located on the north-eastern fringe of the town that rises to a height of about 12 meters from the near ground is almost obscrued to observation by ground penetrating radars as well as high resolution cameras of the earth surveying satellites of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The archaeologists have almost abandoned the mound for carrying out further excavations and research work. 

Only a plot measuring about a 1000 sq meter now survives on which the pillar – an important relic, stands testimony to the splendid history of India. It also came to be noticed that the skin of the sandstone on which the Sermon of Lord Buddha was inscribed during the reign of Emperor Ashoka got partially chipped off by erosion as a result of which several lines and letters in the inscription could not be properly deciphered whereas damage – fissure and peeling, in the upper section of the pillar at Hisar was noticeable. 

In comparison to the sections of the pillar in Haryana the one installed at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi is in better state of preservation. The Buddhist Forum people are a group of enthusiasts and should understand that monuments that have become part of history and embedded in historical narratives should be never relocated opined a few well known historians of Haryana. 

It was added that reversing historical evidence will create physical as well as literary chaos in time and space. It would be in the interest of both – history as well as peace, to stop the anti-history designs of the Buddhist Forum by engaging them into an open-end debate so that the public opinion can be mobilized against such anti-historical effusive as re-installation of the relics as one piece at original site observed a few academic historians such as Dr. Manmohan Kumar of Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak. 

“Installing replicas at Topra may be a better and feasible option” suggested R.S.Phaugat, a renowned cultural historian of the region and member (Life) of INTACH. 

Author: Ranbir Singh | Source: Merinews [May 29, 2011]



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