Impressed with the efforts of the gram panchayat of a village in Haryana’s Yamunanagar district to reconnect with its Mauryan legacy, the central ministry of culture has given its nod for replicating the iconic Ashoka Pillar here.
According to archeological norms, it is mandatory to get prior permission from the ministry before replicating any protected monument.
In 2012, the panchayat of Topra Kalan village, which is 15 km away from Yamunanagar on the Kurukshetra-Haridwar road, had unanimously donated two acres of village land to build a park called Ashoka Edicts Park. Kurukshetra MP Naveen Jindal had written to the central culture ministry to seek permission for the project, following which the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) studied the proposed site and submitted its report to the ministry.
In her reply sent to Jindal on February 6, culture minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch, stated that the proposed park was in accordance with the relevant laws and had cleared the project.
Siddhartha Gauri, an activist from Buddhist Forum — an NGO that is active in protecting Haryana’s Buddhist legacy and monuments — told HT it was little known that the iconic pillar, which now stands above the palace of Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, was, in fact, originally erected in Topra before it was shifted by Sultan Feroz Shah Tughlaq in the 14th century. This fact is documented by Tughlaq’s contemporary historian Shams-i-Siraj.
The pillar, in fact, was the only one in India with seven edicts – all others have only six. “British archeologist and historian James Prinsep was the first one to decipher the Brahmi script on the pillar in 1837and establish the Haryana connect,” the activist said.
The pillar, made of chunar rocks mined near Varanasi, was ferried from Topra (then in Ambala district) through the Jamuna river (now called Yamuna) to Delhi. Appreciating the project, noted archeologist and Allahabad Museum director Rajesh Purohit, who has worked extensively in Haryana, said the replica pillar to be made should not be identical to the one in Delhi to ensure there is no confusion about the pillar’s history.
In the first phase, the replicas of all identified Ashokan pillars, including the one in Delhi, will be made and housed in the park. It will have a replica of Barabar Caves near Gaya in Bihar. A replica of Ashoka’s statute, made of rare sandstone discovered during an excavation in Odisha, will be installed at the park. The park is expected to boost tourism in the area.