Bhubaneswar: A team from Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), led by the State Convener A. B. Tripathy, recently visited sites being excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the Prachi Valley.
The INTACH team inspected the site and the findings and held discussions with ASI Superintending Archaeologist D B Garnaik.
The excavation is spread over 12 acres and the diggings have revealed a rural settlement of Chalcolithic period (3,500 to 4,000 years). The site has revealed a flourishing settlement which was agrarian in nature and also domesticated cattle and engaged in fishing.
Some unique finds include bone harpoons and hooks, stone axes, potsherds, besides remains of fauna ranging from sharks to rhinos.
The State Convener said INTACH had realised its relevance and launched a project for listing the monuments and remains of this rich river valley earlier in January this year.
According to Anil Dhir, Project Head, the entire stretch of this ancient river is being surveyed and every monument, remains, edifices and heritage documented and listed.
In the last two months, the team had made many new discoveries, both tangible and intangible, he said, adding, many places have been identified where archaeological paraphernalia has and is being found, he said.
“The INTACH will share all its findings with the ASI. The evidence unearthed by the ASI shows that Prachi Valley Civilisation predates that of Indus Valley. History will have to be rewritten; Prachi Mahatmya will find its right place in history,” said Dhir.
According to environmentalist Dr. Biswajit Mohanty, Prachi was a vibrant navigable river till the early 1940s. “Reckless crisscrossing of roads, the national highway, and rampant construction on its flood plain has choked the river and it has been reduced to a rivulet. It is only visible during the monsoons,” he said.
The river should be dredged and the inlet opened to make is navigable. The entire bank is dotted with ancient temples, ghats, mutts and picturesque settings, which can make it a major centre for pilgrimage and tourism, he added.
Former bureaucrat Sanjib Hota said Prachi, as a sacred river, finds reference in ancient literature such as Markandeya Purana, Kapilasamhita, Prachi Mahatmya and the Odia Mahabharata. It is the only place where an unique blend of various religious cults, including Jainism, Buddhism, Tantrism, Shaivism and Vaishnavism, can be found.
Former DGP Batakrushna Tripathy said the huge tourism and pilgrimage potential of the area will come to fore due to the efforts of ASI and INTACH.