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ASI unearths rare ancient Panchaloha murtis in Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur district, reflect rich cultural heritage

Author: T S Venkatesan 
Publication: Organiser.org
Date: June 16, 2024
URL:   https://organiser.org/2024/06/16/242936/culture/asi-unearths-rare-ancient-panchaloha-murtis-in-tamil-nadus-thanjavur-district-reflect-rich-cultural-heritage/

A remarkable discovery of rare and ancient Panchaloha murtis has surfaced during routine construction work near Kolirayanpettai village in Thanjavur district, shedding light on the deep cultural and spiritual heritage of the region

In a remarkable discovery highlighting the deep historical roots of Tamil Nadu, during a construction project in Kolirayanpettai village near Papanasam, Thanjavur district, a treasure trove of rare Panchaloha murtis and artifacts dating back to the illustrious Chola era was unearthed. Mohammed Faizal, the owner of the site where the discovery was made, intended to construct a house on his property when workers unexpectedly stumbled upon these ancient relics.

The excavation, conducted during routine digging operations, took a surprising turn when workers heard the unmistakable sound of metal beneath the earth. Upon closer inspection, they uncovered several well-preserved Panchaloha murtis along with various ceremonial artifacts believed to have been used in worship rituals during the Chola period.

According to reports, the murtis found include representations of deities such as Somaskandar, Chandrasekharar, and Thirugnanasambandar, revered figures in Hindu mythology. Additionally, the discovery included incense burners, trays, and pedestals used for religious ceremonies. Authorities from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) were promptly notified of the findings and swiftly arrived at the site to secure and assess the artifacts.

“The significance of these discoveries cannot be overstated,” remarked an ASI official overseeing the excavation. “The artifacts provide valuable insights into the religious and cultural practices of the Chola dynasty, known for its unparalleled contributions to art and architecture.”

This recent find is not an isolated incident in Tamil Nadu’s archaeological landscape. In 2017, another significant discovery was made near Pattukottai in Thanjavur district, where workers uncovered 14 ancient murtis and 7 pedestals, all crafted from Panchaloha. Similarly, in 2021, in Perambalur district, a farmer’s son stumbled upon six Hindu murtis while digging the foundation for his family’s house. These discoveries underscore the region’s rich heritage and ongoing archaeological significance.

The current excavation in Kolirayanpettai village is ongoing, with experts hopeful of uncovering additional artifacts that may provide further insights into the cultural practices of ancient Tamil Nadu. Preliminary assessments suggest that the unearthed artifacts are likely from the Chola period, spanning from the 9th to the 13th century Common Era (CE), a time renowned for its flourishing artistic and religious developments.

Historically, such artifacts were often buried for protection or during periods of social upheaval. The practice may have been influenced by factors such as the collapse of temple structures or the need to safeguard religious icons from invaders.
The discovery has sparked local interest and admiration, with community members expressing pride in their cultural heritage. As the excavation continues, authorities urge caution and respect for the historical significance of the site. The artifacts will undergo further examination and preservation efforts to ensure their safeguarding for future generations.

The unearthing of these ancient Panchaloha murtis in Thanjavur district not only enriches our understanding of Tamil Nadu’s past but also reaffirms the region’s status as a custodian of India’s diverse cultural heritage. As excavations progress, researchers and historians anticipate uncovering more treasures that will shed light on the vibrant history of the Chola dynasty and its enduring legacy in South India.
 
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