Dvārakā (Gateway to Heaven) is a coastal town in Jamnagar district of Guajarat situated at the shores of Arabian Sea. This city owes its mention in the great epic Mahabharata as the city of Lord Krishna. Importance of Dwaraka could be understood in the light of the fact that it is regarded as “Sapta puri” (seven sacred cities) of Hinduism and it is a goal of “Tirtha” (pilgrimage) for thousands of Hindus every year. Apart from Mahabharata this city also finds it’s mention in Harivamsa, one of the most important works of Sanskrit literature, according to this text, Dwarka was built on “submerged land”, “released by the ocean”. It was squared “like a chessboard”. It was guarded by four main gates and the city’s houses were arranged in lines. The city had “high buildings”, “made in gold”, which “almost touched the sky” and “could be seen everywhere like clouds”. Moreover, the city is also mentioned in Bhagvat Puraana, Skanda Puraana and the Vishnu Puraana.
Exact location of Dwaraka excavation.
Dwaraka Excavation began with the finding of ruins around the Island of Beyt Dwarka, around 30 Km North of Dwaraka. The works began in the 1930s but soon stopped. The next exploration was carried out in 1969-1970 and yielded varied results.
Importance of Dwaraka Excavation.
It debunks mythological stereotyping of Mahabharata era.
In academic circles religious text books of Hindus are frequently targeted of being mythologies and devoid of any historical importance. Hindu Epic Mahabharata is no more in exception, before the discovery of the legendary city of Dwaraka, scholars were at loggerhead to accept the historical relevance of Mahabharata and widely inclined with the views that it would be futile to search for the remains of the ancient city and that too in the sea. Some even gone to the extent of saying that the Mahabharata battle was a family feud which was exaggerated into a war. Excavations of Dr, S. R. Rao at Dwaraka prove that the descriptions found in the texts are not to be discarded as fancy stories but are to be treated as based on logic and reasoning. Thus the results have proved that the account in Mahabharata as to the existence of a beautiful capital city of Dwaraka of Sri Krishna was not a mere figment of imagination but it did exist.
It completes the missing link of knowledge transfer.
Archaeological remains found under the sea suggest the existence of a settlement during Late Harappan period, or immediately after it. From a historical perspective this disclosure holds significant relevance for the reason that Indus-Saraswati Civilization is unanimously regarded as the first phase of Urbanization in ancient India. Now following the timeline Dwarka being it’s successor perfectly establishes the factual existence of second phase of urbanization in ancient India, which therefore addresses the long awaited question of missing link of knowledge transfer from Indus-Saraswati Civilization to the succeeding eras.
Timeline of Dwaraka Excavation.
The archeological site of Dwaraka is far from being fully explored, but still it is important to take note on the timeline of attempted explorations made so far on the archaeological site of Dwaraka, which basically reads as follows:
Unfortunate halting of the excavation.
Dwarka, as of today is still one of the best-studied underwater sites in India. And indeed, it is true that that whatever has been excavated from Beyt Dwaraka or at the one at Gulf of Khambhat (Cambay), so far, is truly remarkable in bridging up the gap of continued existence of urban civilization in ancient India. But unfortunately the work on further excavation has met a formidable roadblock in the form of academic indifference and government apathy. A proposal submitted to the government by Dr S.R. Rao, renowned marine archaeologist, who led the underwater investigations is collecting dust for over four years now.
SR Rao’s Proposal
In reply to a question as to how sure he was that this was Krishna’s Dwarka, SR Rao had replied, “only the name board is missing.” He submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Culture in January 2000, that aimed at preserving the ‘underwater cultural heritage of India Dwarka’ and also promoting it as a pilgrimage-tourism center. His proposal, in three stages, was to cost Rs 14 crores. It is sad that the proposal was not taken up. The then Secretary, Ministry of Culture, visited Dwarka and promised to help, but nothing has been heard so far.
The important highlights of the proposal are as follows :
1. Further excavations in Bet Dwarka is required. It was suggested that access to the submerged city in Dwarka water can be given to visitors, in fair season, through underwater acrylic tubes or viewing chambers at specific points. Alternatively, underwater video cameras can be used to project images above water, in monitors.
2. The project also mooted the idea of a submarine museum of dolphins as they are in good population in deeper water, off Dwarka. There is also a strong case for a Maritime Museum of Antiquities found in excavations at Dwarka, Bet Dwarka, Somnath, Nageswar and dioramas of Lothal port and Dwarka city. As of now, the Dwarka antiquities are lying in NIO, Goa.
3. Unlike several other land excavations, the underwater excavations can be done only with total government help. Several levels of permissions are needed. While land excavations are demanding in labor, the underwater explorations need machinery and equipment. Skillful divers, who are trained to look for meaningful objects are required too.
RTI DETAILS ON DWARAKA EXCAVATION
Why there is a need felt to file RTI on Dwaraka Excavation ?
Since Dwaraka excavation site is extremely important from both historical and civilization point of view for India, therefore to have a correct information from the government side on the current status of Dwaraka excavation is utmost important. And that can be deciphered by knowing about the expenditures made so far on the excavation and the progress made from the government side on the proposal made by senior archaeologist, SR Rao in this regard, because he is the only person who has first came out with a complete blueprint on the exploration of Dwaraka site. So keeping all these factors in consideration Srijan Foundation felt it appropriate to file RTI application in this regard.
What that RTI basically asks for?
The RTI application which is filed on the behalf of Srijan Foundation basically meant to seek the following information from the concerned authorities:
1. Current status of archaeological excavations at Dwaraka.
2. Government agencies and institutions involved in archaeological excavations at Dwaraka.
3. Place where antiquities are kept excavated from Dwaraka excavation site.
4. Status of proposal submitted by Archaeologist, SR Rao for the excavation of Dwarka.
5. Amount of funds allocated for the excavation of Dwaraka archaeological site so far.
What is the response received on that RTI application?
In response to our RTI application the answer which we have received from the concerned authorities made two shocking revelations, namely:
- That CSIR-NIO is not aware of the proposal submitted by Dr S.R. Rao.
- That CSIR-NIO utilized about Rs. 22 lakhs for underwater explorations of Dwarka.
These two revelations tells a lot about the lack of seriousness on the part of Indian Government regarding Dwaraka excavation. Infact, even the monetary amount which has been utilized so far by CSIR-NIO is just a drop in the ocean in terms of appreciating the historical and civilizational significance of Dwarka site. The vulnerability of the expenditure amount can be understood from the fact that the proposed plan of SR Rao on Dwarka Excavation requires a budget of 14 crores, which if put in contrast with the present expenditure made by CSIR-NIO underlines the miserable state of affairs in terms of pursuing the archaeological excavation at Dwaraka site.