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Buddha 'footprints' found during excavation in Chhattisgarh

In a major discovery the archaeological department has found Buddha foot prints, used for worship, during an excavation at village Damroo in Baloda Bazaar-Bhatapara district, about 60 km from here. The find assumes importance as such Buddha foot prints had not been found anywhere in central India up to now.

Buddha 'footprints' found during excavation in Chhattisgarh
Example of a Buddha footprint said to belong to the Grandhara era 
[Credit: Shuang Yan Guan Zhu]
Damrooo is situated on the banks of river Shivnath and provides uninterrupted cultural sequences to the early historical chapter of Chhattisgarh. Archaeological excavation at the village has opened some new aspects in the history and archaeology of the state. There are three big mounds here that contain potteries of black ware, red slipped ware and fine fabrics. The site is surrounded by a circular rampart, or mud fort, popularly known as garh.

Speaking exclusively to TOI with regard to the recent findings at Damroo, director, archaeology Rakesh Chaturvedi informed that the mud fortification at Damroo measures about 370 south-west and 460 m east-west, with a maximum height of about nine m from the present surface. The western part of the site is vandalised by local residents.

This is the first mud fort site that was excavated by the state archaeology department under direction of Dr SShivkant Bajpai and Rahul Singh. The excavation is being carried out here since 2013 and has yielded several antiquities ranging from early historical period to later Gupta period. Last year early Brahmi inscriptions on terracotta tablets were found here in bulk quantity.

Now Damroo has become a well-known Buddhist site where more than a dozen Votive stupas and other important artifacts are found. Most important among them are Buddha Pada, or Buddha foot prints.

Chaturvedi further said that the findings of the Buddha foot prints has got the archaeologists excited as it for the first time such a significant archaeological discovery has been made in central India.

Speaking to TOI excavation director at Damroo site Dr Bajpai explained that these Buddha foot prints are portable type, meaning they were carried along by the Buddhists of the era for the purpose of worship. It is an auspicious Buddhist symbol, which is still worshiped at Buddhist temples in Bodh Gaya and Nagarjuni Konda.

The Buddha foot prints are imprint of either one or both feet. These are symbols of Buddha's feet and considered sacred in Hinyana Buddhism in India as well other Buddhist countries, he added.

The portable Buddha foot prints excavated at Damroo is made out of locally available stone. It is circular in shape and is carved with twelve lotus petals, which is one of the eight important auspicious symbols of Buddhism, said Bajpai, adding that the two feet of Buddha are flanked by twin fish on either side. Twin golden fish are also among the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism.

Below the feet a symbolic dharma chakra is depicted. The circumference of the Buddha pada is about 25 cms, suggesting that it was portable and used for the purpose of worship. It may be assignable to Satvahana or Gupta period, said Bajpai.

Speaking to TOI in this regard, Dayaldas Baghel, who assumed charge as minister of culture and tourism on Wednesday, said that the findings at Damroo site are extremely important from the archaeological and historical point of view. He further said that these findings indicate that this area was a great centre of Hinyani Buddhism during the 1st to 5th century AD and once the excavation work at Damroo gets completed it would become an important centre for Buddhist world in particular and an important tourist centre of the country, he added.

Author: Arjun Chouhan | Source: The Times of India [June 03, 2015]

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