Tuesday January 23, 2018

Not just Kohinoor, the Amaravati Stupa sculptures were looted too

The Britishers not only pillaged our Kohinoor, but made us devoid of these marvelous sculptures too

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Amaravati Stupa sculpture Image: Wikimedia
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In a recent article published at Scroll.in, Ruchika Sharma observes that we as a country limit our conversation to the prized ‘The Kohinoor’ whereas many other sculptures were also looted and taken away by foreigners.  Here is a brief summary of the article.

As the writer mentions “The only gain that one can foresee is the purely symbolic joy of telling our erstwhile colonial masters: We are getting our own back.” Demanding the very pride of Britain ‘The Kohinoor’, what exactly is the Indian government is expecting in return… (Probably ‘affirmative’). But that’s not how this world goes.Today we follow the concept of ‘Survival of the fittest‘. Debates and foreign tours can go on and on but it hardly changes the fact that those Britishers will return it. Instead, we can demand our other possessions back which will enhance our ancient heritage. It will help the archaeologists and researchers to dig in deeper into our historical glory.Things like various Buddha sculptures, heavy metals, Chola bronzes etc can be demanded instead.

Those Britishers looted us to our very core. As mentioned by our elders often, India was used to be a Golden Bird. So much was the wealth in our land but time to time strangers came and took whatever they were able to in every possible manner they could have.

Amaravati Stupa sculplture Image: Wikimedia Commons
Amaravati Stupa sculpture
Image: Wikimedia Commons

One of the most scandalous act done by those Britishers was that of ‘looting of the Amaravati stupa’.The Amaravati was one of the most glorious prized possessions of India.Starting from 1797 they looted it piece by piece completely and presently it is being displayed in the British museum named as ‘Amaravati gallery‘. Indian Government should focus on bringing these possessions back to our land.

Related article – History of Kohinoor by William Dalrymple

Amravati Gallery Image: Wikimedia Commons
Amravati Gallery
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Facts reveal that the stupa was built in 3rd century BC in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. With no proper use, it gradually lost its significance. Again in 1796 local workers of a Zamindaar discovered the ruins. Digging deeper into the ruins they found white marbles .They even used those marbles in building their structures with which they were working on.

After then came the first British ‘Colin Mackenzie’ to discover those ruins.In 816, he prepared some docs and pictures and ultimately transported those white stones to London.However, some were given to Bengal Asiatic society.But that was not the end of story.Most famous of people related to this temple was ‘Sir Walter Elliot’.Not knowing anything about archaeology he did some major damage to those ruins. Recklessly he carried out several operations at the site, prepared some sketches and continuing the trend he also transported nearly 121 sculptures pieces to London,which were later renamed as ‘Elliot marbles‘.
These sort of teleportation of the sculptures continued. Adding to the list was ‘JG Horsefall’. Putting the nail in the coffin he found ‘Relic Casket’ (and that was the most important part of the temple). However, its present location is still unknown.

A replica of Amaravati Stupa in the museum at Amaravati Image: Wikimedia Commons
A replica of Amaravati Stupa in the museum at Amaravati
Image: Wikimedia Commons

‘On-site preservation’ was a concept which wasn’t yet followed by any of the Britishers. Not even by some experienced archaeologists such as ‘James Burgess. He proposed to take 175 pieces .Then came ‘Captain Cole‘ (Curator of ancient monument in India).The first one to make a case on ‘on site preservation’.He proposed the erection of small buildings where they would be safely displayed. He even made one strong point that Indian belongings should not be taken to England.Instead, if required duplicate copies should be displayed in the museum.
However nothing good came out of it and a debate arose between Burgess and Cole which was ultimately in the favor of Burgess. Cole tried his best to make his point valid but his proposal was ignored. Eventually, the whole sculpture was sort of displaced to England or to Madras.

Cole was the person who sowed the idea of on-site preservation into the people’s mind. His belief was a monument should be given respect by not dislocating it. Today England owns it proudly irrespective of the fact that it is ours .It is high time that our government pressurizes British Government to give us back these belongings. So that the Stupa regains its dignity and original place where it once was.

Twitter handle – @pritam_gogreen

(Pritam, a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata. A simple person who tries to innovate and improvise himself.)

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India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Doklam or Donglang, is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India

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picture from- indiaopines.com

By Ruchika Verma

  • India and China have an old history of disputes
  • This time, the dispute is regarding the Dokplam Plateau
  • The area is of strategic importance for both the nations

Disputes between India and China are not at all uncommon. The rivalry between the two nations is famous. There have been several disputes between the two on the India-China border in past, and there seems to be no stopping for these disputes in the present or future, for that matter.

India and China have a n old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com
India and China have an old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com

In June 2017, the world witnessed yet another dispute arising between India and China. This time the dispute was about China building a road extending to Doklam Plateau, which both nations have been fighting over for years now.

Also Read: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

History of the dispute 

Doklam or Donglang (in Chinese), is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. India doesn’t directly claim the area but supports Bhutan’s claims on it.

India fits into the picture, as this plateau is an important area for India. Not only is Bhutan one of the biggest allies of India; China gaining access over the Doklam Plateau will also endanger India’s borders, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan's borders.
Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan’s borders.

Apart from the hostile history of the two nations, the Doklam Plateau is also important for India to maintain its control over a land corridor that connects to its remote northeastern States. China building a road through Doklam surely threatens that control.

A complete timeline of what happened in the recent Doklam Standoff 

On 16 June 2017, Chinese troops with construction vehicles and excavators began extending an existing road southward on the Doklam plateau, near India’s border. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm for India.

On 18 June 2017, India responded by sending around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers to evict the Chinese troops from Doklam.

On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested against the construction of a road in the disputed territory.  According to the Bhutanese government, China attempted to extend a road in an area which is shared both Bhutan and India, along with China.

Between 30 June 2017 and 5 July 2017, China released multiple statements justifying their claim over the Doklam plateau. They cited reasons as to why the Doklam standoff wasn’t really needed. And how China has not intruded into India’s territory to incite the standoff.

On 19th July 2017, China asked India again to withdraw its troops from the Doklam. On 24th July 2017,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statement, asked India to withdraw and behave themselves to maintain peace.

India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC
India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC

Also Read: Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

What followed till 16th August 2017 was China constantly alleging India of trying to create trouble. They accused India of trying to disturb the peace and not withdrawing the troops, even after repeated reminders. They also accused India of bullying.

India, however, kept quiet during the whole fiasco, only releasing a statement regarding their stand and position at the Doklam standoff.

On 28 August 2017, India and China finally announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the Doklam standoff. The withdrawal was completed on that very day.

On 7 September 2017, many media reports claimed that both nation’s troops have not left the site completely. They were still patrolling the area, simply having moved 150 meters away from their previous position.

On 9 October 2017, China announced that it is ready to maintain peace with India at the frontiers. India reacted in affirmative, the peace was established when Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman’s visited Nathu La.

The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay
The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay

The Doklam issue, for now, is resolved. However, given the history of disputes between India and China, it won’t be a surprise if the issue resurfaces again in near future.