By: Lawan Thakur
Sundernagar: How much we Himachalis treasure our heritage is visible in a retaining wall of a government building here that has hundreds of statues of archeological importance statues literally used in place of bricks and stones. Even more appalling is fact that while the general public is indifferent to such heritage being destroyed, the government department responsible for preserving state heritage feigns total ignorance of the presence of such statues lying in the middle of the town.
While civil society groups have brought the matter to the notice of the Archeological Survey of India, besides the language and culture department of Himachal Pradesh, which is responsible for the upkeep of state heritage in absence of a separate department, the latter has shown no urgency in taking the said statues under its control.
No official is in a position to state how the statues landed up being used as concrete for the wall, neither has any effort been made to establish the period of history to which these statues belong. Surprisingly, despite the presence of a very active mafia involved in theft of temple statues in the state, these one are still lying ‘uncared’ for. Advocate Aashish of IPTA’s Himachal unit, who had complained in this regard, said as of yet they are yet to see any action from the department.
This is not the only example of how the precious heritage is being lost as there are several unattended sites across the state where such statues and other archaeological remains are lying strewn. Not far off from Sundernagar, about a decade ago around 500 rare statues were excavated at Nagrota village near Baldwara, but these are still lying in an open field. Heritage lovers had even proposed to install these statues in Mandi town, but the language and culture department never cared to take note.
Birbal Sharma, president of Heritage Consciousness Bureau, said the state government should make efforts to get these heritage items displaced at a proper place and also get them catalogued. District language officer Raj Kumar Saklani said they have been apprised about the statues and efforts were being made to find out to which era these belong to.