INTACH to document heritage of Prachi Valley Civilisation

17 Nov 2017

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage has launched a project to document the monuments of Prachi Valley in Odisha, where a civilisation believed to be earlier than that of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, flourished on the banks of a river.
The entire stretch of the river till the estuary will be surveyed and a comprehensive report made through the six-month project - 'Documenting the Monuments of the Prachi Valley', Chief Project Coordinator Anil Dhir told PTI. Work for the project commenced from Bakreswar Temple in Bhinjarpur near Bhubaneswar last week.
The Prachi river, a tributary of the Mahanadi, originates about 10 kms from Bhubaneswar, he said. It flows through Puri, Khurda, Cuttack and Jagatsinghpur districts, and this region is called the Prachi Valley.
Archaeological evidence shows the Prachi Valley Civilisation predates both Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, Dhir said, adding that recent archaeological excavations have revealed rich findings and more excavations have been planned.
State Convener of INTACH, Amiya Bhusan Tripathy said without proper listing and documentation of the monuments in the entire stretch of the Prachi river, an important realm of Odisha's history remains incomplete. "Many of the old monuments have disappeared in recent years, which make it all the more necessary for a proper listing of the existing vestiges," he said.
Local chronicles show there are around 350 to 400 monuments including temples, 'maths', ghats, structures and sites constructed during the 7th century to the 15th century along the 60-km stretch of the river, both Dhir and Tripathy said.
During the six-month project, the INTACH team would document nearly 350 monuments, most of which are now in various stages of decay. "We are planning to involve local stakeholders, villagers, students and temple authorities of the region in the project," Dhir said.
The project will be of immense help in rediscovering the history and past civilisation of Odisha, he said. Even though Prachi is a small compared to some of the other rivers of Odisha, it contains hidden treasures of a magnificent past, he said.
Similar to early civilisations like the Aryan, Egyptian, Babylonian and Assyrian, the Prachi Valley Civilisation, too, flourished on the banks of a river.
Prachi Valley Civilisation has contributed a lot towards amalgamation, assimilation and proliferation of different religious faiths and cults, Dhir said.
Major religions like Buddhism, Jainism, Saivism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism grew chronologically, without attacking the religious and philosophical sentiments of the people of those days, he said.
The river now runs dry for most of the year and only in the monsoons does it bear any resemblance to its glorious past. This once-navigable river is now virtually dead, but is steeped in history. Many artifacts are frequently excavated, and surface finds of pot sherds and carvings are often discovered, Dhir said.
S K B Narayan, Convener of Bhubaneswar Chapter of INTACH said along with the tangible heritage, the intangible attributes like the rich oral tradition, customs, festivals and folklore would also be documented. (PTI)