IIT-Roorkee chips in for historical park : Hindustantimes

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The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee, has approved the design of the Ashoka Edicts Park that will come up in Topra Kalan village of this district.

This means that project leaders can now apply for the government funds to construct the historical park, where replicas of Ashoka edicts will be installed.

The faculty of the premier institute has approved the design after a comprehensive study of the preliminary project. Prof Satyendra Mittal from the department of civil engineering and Prof Satish Chandra from the department of architecture have approved the design and they haven’t asked for much in return. They only seek a token fee as they consider the efforts of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and Yamunanagar-based social organisaiton The Buddhist Forum “to revive a forgotten chapter of the Indian history”.

Appreciating the in-depth study and planning, Mittal observed in his approval note that the project was in harmony with the ancient traditional architecture. He, however, cautioned the project leaders about the inflation factor while pursuing the project which was not funded by any state agency.

Last year, the panchayat of Topra Kalan, around 15 km from Yamunanagar on the Kurukshetra-Haridwar road, donated 2-acre common land to build the park. It was a brainchild of TBF’s Siddhartha Gauri, who has volunteered to protect Buddhist monuments in Haryana. He told Hindustan Times that it was a little known fact that the iconic Ashoka Pillar was originally erected in Topra Kalan before it was dismantled and taken to Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi by then Sultan of Delhi Feroz Shah Tughlaq in the 14th century. This fact is documented by Tughlak’s contemporary historian Shams-i-Siraj.

The pillar uprooted from Topra was the only one in India which had seven edicts issued by Ashoka, while the rest had only six edicts.

Gauri said the ancient Brahmi script was first deciphered on the pillar having the Haryana connection by British expert James Prinsep in 1837.

The project

In the first phase, the Ashoka Edicts Park will house replicas of all identified Ashokan pillars, including the one in Delhi and rock edicts.

It will have a replica of Barabar Caves near Gaya in Bihar, the rock-cut caves have Buddhist inscriptions.

A replica of Ashoka’s statute made in rare sandstone discovered during an excavation in Odisha will be installed at the Yamunanagar park.

The promoters say the park will boost rural economy of the region as it will attract a number of spiritual and religious visitors from India and abroad. “Haryana was an important place where Buddhism flourished and it is evident from stupas in Yamunanagar, Karnal, Kurukshetra and Hisar districts,” Siddhartha Gauri of The Buddhist Forum said.

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