Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Jatni, May 4:
Odisha Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies (OIMSEAS) has discovered Buddhist statues, sculpture and architecture while excavating certain areas of Aragarh hills near Jatni.
Quite uncharacteristically, the four statues of Lord Buddha discovered during the excavation have three heads and eight hands each and hold Bajra (mythical godly weapon used by Hindu king of gods Indra).
Excavators have also discovered two others statues that have three heads and four hands, which are yet to be identified by experts.
It may be noted that the first ever Buddhist statue was found here in 1952 by a farmer while he was ploughing his land. Villagers built a Buddha Narayan temple and have been worshipping it ever since. This incident drew the attentions of historians and researchers to the hills, who have been working on it periodically to come up with fascinating information.
Historians claim the existence of a Buddhist monastery in the hills around fourth to fifth century BC. Some historians opine that eminent professor of the historical Nalanda University ‘Dinga’ had his monastery around this place. The nearby village has been named ‘Delanga’, which is believed to have been derived from his name.
Shankar Nayak of Barapada village claims that the name ‘Aragarh’ actually comes from “Airigarh’.
The meditation temple built there during the reign of the Bhouma kings has been renovated and kept open for tourists. However, the professionally managed excavation by OIMSEAS, which began this month under the supervision of its Director Sunil Patnaik, has managed to find many statues and evidence of larger architecture within a short span.
OIMSEAS plans to continue the excavation and its experts expect to find even more of them in the coming days.
In the meanwhile, locals have asked the government to accord the place tourist place status, build a rest shade, supply electricity and water to the place, erect an information board with all historical and tourist information and take necessary steps to conserve the remains.
Local ‘Aragarh Boudha Bikash Parishad’ is celebrating Buddha Jayanti today to mark the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha today.