Ashoka era stupa lost in renovation

by Sanjay Sharma, TNN, Apr 16, 2011

CHANETI, YAMUNANAGAR (India) -- A 2300-year-old stupa of Ashoka period here appears to have turned into a modern building during efforts of archeologists to restore the site after it was excavated in 2005. A visit to the site presents a picture as if a new stupa has been built in this district of Haryana.

In fact, even during restoration, objections were raised by an activist from Buddhist Forum, Sidhartha Gauri, who has been fighting for saving Haryana's Buddhist heritage but to no avail. In a letter to the director general of Archeological Survey of India, Gauri, who has produced a documentary on the condition of Buddhist heritage in Haryana, pointed out faults in the renovation.

The letter says there are three kinds of bricks which nowhere match size and shape of the original ancient bricks of the stupa.

"The stupa has been completely covered with new bricks, leaving no traces behind of its original bricks and construction material," the letter says. Gauri has alleged the binding material used for the bricks is cement and sand, which are prohibited in the renovation of ancient monuments.

There were four cardinal points and niches to place idols but now they appear as stairs.

There were traces of approximately 52 pits around the parikrama path but they have been covered under the path.

They were two feet deep and wooden pillars used to be placed in them to create a boundary around the stupa.