A 5ft structure in the eastern corner of Bhadrakali Temple at Itkhori, Chatra, sees a steady stream of 2,000-odd devotees from across Jharkhand, Bihar and Bengal every day because it curiously resembles a shivling.
The Kabra-Kala mound, on the right bank of river Son in Palamau, has been drawing scores of antique hunters with its enormous treasure of copper coins, inscribed stone seals and terracotta artefacts.
The question is what lies beneath. Explorers from the capital will now find out the answer.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has granted its Ranchi circle the right to explore and excavate the two sites, which seem to be hiding many a historical and religious saga in their geological labyrinths. Work is expected to begin by month-end.
Superintending archaeologist, Ranchi circle, N.G. Nikoshey said they had applied for the licence four months ago. “We got a nod from director-general (of ASI) in Delhi a week ago,” he said, stressing that they would embark on the mission within this month as “it may take two years to finish”.
“We were only waiting for the licence to start archaeology excavation work. Our team members had visited the places five months ago and found relics on the surface. Now, we can dig deeper,” Nikoshey added.
Itkhori has temple ruins sprawling over 50 acres. But the Bhadrakali Temple is most intriguing. According to temple sources, the structure, which devotees so far took to be a shivling, has around 1,008 figurines of Buddha carved on it.
“Before the temple came up, a Buddhist stupa may have been here,” Ramdeo Keshri, a former member of the temple committee, had once told The Telegraph. “This place is unique and requires a detailed study,” he had said.
Nikoshey pointed out that residents too had found some 400 sculptures and pillars at Itkhori a few months ago. “History is lying in makeshift sheds. Residents are refusing to hand these sculptures to the local administration. An official excavation has become necessary,” he said.
Kabra-Kala, 251km from Ranchi, is at an elevation of 12 metre and covers a vast area. Eastern part of the mound is under cultivation. “Copper coins, clay and terracotta artefacts, bead jewellery, et al dating between the Chalcolithic period to late medieval period have been found there, suggesting a prosperous but unexplored trade centre,” an ASI (Ranchi) source said.
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