As the battle between environmentalists and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) rages on over construction activities in the city’s green lungs, recent archaeological findings
As the battle between environmentalists and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) rages on over construction activities in the city’s green lungs, recent archaeological findings have thrown light on the rich heritage that lies buried beneath Aarey Colony.
Experts from Mumbai University (MU) have stumbled upon sculptures and artefacts inside the colony, including some dating back to the Shilahara dynasty (c. 765 to 1029 AD). The university’s archaeological department is now considering approaching the MMRDA to initiate research in the precinct before construction work is started. Archaeologists from MU’s Centre of Archaeology and the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies (CEMS) on Saturday released their findings on artefacts and scattered individual traces of the Shilahara, Yadava, Pre-Portuguese and Post-Portuguese eras that were unearthed across Mumbai precinct. As Mahim and Marol were Shilahara capitals, the researchers, who started their work earlier this year, have focused on these regions.
Vinayak Parab, who spearheaded the work at Aarey Colony — which is near the Shilahara’s economic capital in Marol, mentioned that his team has learnt of the colony’s rich cultural heritage. “In the Malhar Koli settlements of Ultan Pada, we found the remains of statues of Kuladevata (community goddesses). At the same time, various sculptures of gaodevis (village goddesses) were found near the banks of Vihar lake, Choitacha Pada, Mataipada and Keltipada (a hillock that is a famous picnic spot). There was a beautiful sculpture of Charandev, a local deity, in Charandev Pada and Waghoba in Maroshipada. All these sculptures, traces of household items and scattered evidence were found near the Shilahara capital Marol, indicating that with deeper research we could learn more about the archaeological evidence hidden inside Aarey Colony,” said Mr Parab.
Experts also said that a large section of temple pillars dating back to the Shilahara dynasty were found near the old Aarey Colony tollbooth. He said that they need time to excavate further and locate more evidence in order to unearth prehistoric material.
“Once the work starts, we won’t be able to undertake excavations anymore, hence before that happens, we need to look deeply into the area to complete the project,” said Mr Parab.
Dr Mughda Karnik, director, CEMS, said a decision would collectively be taken on how to appeal to officials to allow it to work inside the colony. “We have recently completed the findings. After holding meetings and looking at the evidence closely, we will take a call on how to approach the officials,” she said.