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Archaeologists set out to save relics from destruction

Updated November 03, 2016
Remains of a Mughal-era mosque and a British-era memorial, similar to Nicholson’s Monument, found in Kuri. — Courtesy Department of Archaeology
Remains of a Mughal-era mosque and a British-era memorial, similar to Nicholson’s Monument, found in Kuri. — Courtesy Department of Archaeology

ISLAMABAD: Archaeologists are trying the save the many surviving cultural relics scattered across Islamabad before they are lost to the developing housing societies.

Experts from the Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM) and the National History and Literary Division have planned to survey all the four zones of Islamabad and document and protect the relics from being destroyed.

“Several of these sites and monuments are like little wonders and are located on sites on which housing societies are being built. A survey for documenting these sites and monuments is being conducted for the first time and will help us identify these relics so that they can be protected from destruction and vandalism under the Antiquities Act 1975,” said Mohsin Haqqani, secretary National History and Literary Division.

DOAM archaeologists surveyed Kuri in Zone IV of Islamabad and came across more than just a few thousands of pottery pieces scattered around a few documented sites.

“Kuri is littered with dozens of artefacts and relics from Budhist, Muslim, Sikh and British eras,” a DOAM official said.

Remains of a Mughal-era mosque and a British-era memorial, similar to Nicholson’s Monument, found in Kuri. — Courtesy Department of Archaeology
Remains of a Mughal-era mosque and a British-era memorial, similar to Nicholson’s Monument, found in Kuri. — Courtesy Department of Archaeology

One of the more interesting relics that were unearthed during this survey was a ten metre wide entrance to a mosque that is thought to have been built during the Mughal era and little of the entrance has survived. A walk through in the middle of a wall, buried some two meters in the ground, is the visible part of the entrance yet.

The team also found a Buddhist structure from the 6th or 7th century AD, the stone masonry on which was found to be similar to that found in the Taxila Valley. A Buddhist monastery was also found, which has been terribly damaged and possibly vandalised by villagers over the years.

Though still standing intact on a hillock but close to toppling over is an obelisk similar to that of Nicholson’s Monument on GT Road, near Taxila and the three meters of the masonry work on the structure is similar to that on Nicholson’s monument.

“The plaque inscribed with the description of the site was broken by villagers, but according to folk lore, this was the site for a battle between the locals and the British,” said a DOAM expert.

The local administration has also restored a mosque from the Mughal period, the arches and thickness of walls of which are similar to that found in other mosques from the same period across the country. A plaque near the mosque, inscribed in Persian says the mosque was finished in 1303 AD. The mosque is still used by residents of the Rahara Village.

A rock shelter and two mounds near the Chhappran Village have also been found and are believed to date back to between the second and fifth century AD.

Published in Dawn November 3rd, 2016