2,000 year old Ashoka Pillar in Delhi suffers heavy damage
A valuable piece of India's ancient history in the heart of the nation's modern capital is being erased word by word, literally.
|Ashoka Pillar at Ferozeshah Kotla, Delhi [Credit: WikiCommons]|
The Ashokan inscriptions on this exceptionally rare pillar are bearing the brunt of the damage. But no one knows yet whether they are being eroded by time, the elements, the human hand, or all three. A large part of the inscriptions has flaked off completely. The uniqueness of this pillar lies in the fact that it bears one more edict than the standard six on the other pillars.
The exact reason for the sudden flaking is unclear. "The question that needs to be asked is how is the pillar suddenly withering? It survived for more than 2,000 years. Has there been chemical cleaning or is there some other reason?" said Intach convener Swapna Liddle, adding, "ASI has to investigate this because it's a very serious matter. This is not just any pillar, it's an Ashokan pillar and a large part of the original inscription has come off and cannot even be recreated.The loss is irreparable."
Sources said that despite the pillar deteriorating and flaking for months, ASI remained clueless. When contacted, ASI director general Rakesh Tewari said, "This is a matter of grave concern and we will inspect the monument at the earliest and take appropriate action."
|A large part of the inscription has come off and cannot be recreated |
Noted historian Nayanjyot Lahiri, author of the book "Ashoka in Ancient India", told TOI: "There are multiple histories connected to the Ashokan pillars. Each pillar has a set of edicts which are messages from Emperor Ashoka on various things, such as matters concerning the protection of all living beings.While all Ashokan pillars have a set of six edicts, the Topra pillar in Kotla is the only one with seven edicts. The seventh is a retrospective statement in which Ashoka sums up the work he has done and (imposes) moral restrictions on people. This pillar is especially unique for this reason and is the only one of its kind."
Author: Richi Verma | Source: The Times of India [December 03, 2016]