ASI Current Affairs - 2020

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Four Colonial structures re-dedicated to Kolkata

PM Modi is on a two-day official visit to Kolkata on January 11 and 12, 2020. During his visit, the Prime Minister will dedicate three colonial buildings to the country.

Highlights

During the visit, the Prime Minister will dedicate Old Currency Building, Metcalfe House, Belvedere House and Victoria Memorial Hall. The buildings were renovated by Ministry of Culture. The ministry is also working on developing other iconic buildings and cultural spaces in Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Varanasi.

Currency Building

The Currency Building was built in 1833. It was designed in Italian style with cast iron gates and Venetian windows. The RBI operated from the building till 1937 after which it was abandoned. The building was declared as a protected monument by the archaeological survey of India in 2002

Metacalfe Hall

The building was named after Lord Metacalfe. He was the Governor General of India between March 1835 and March 1836. It is famous for its 30 Corinthian pillars. It was built to honour his efforts towards free press. The building houses public library collection.

The Corinthian colums are slender and sleek structures of the Greek architecture. The column is fluted and are known for their decorative bell shapes and leaves.

Belvedere House

The Belvedere House was Mir Jafar’s palace. Later it housed several governors of Bengal and viceroys of India.

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South India’s earliest Sanskrit Inscription found in A.P.

The Epigraphy Branch of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered the earliest Sanskrit inscription to have been discovered in South India as on date. This significant finding is also the earliest epigraphic evidence for ‘Saptamatrika’ cult so far. The discovery was made in Chebrolu village in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. The inscription came to light when some local villagers informed ASI authorities about a pillar with some engravings when they were restoring and repairing local Bheemeshwara temple. ASI called for conservation and preservation of pillar given its historical importance.

Key Findings

What is Saptamatrikas? They are a group of seven female deities worshipped in Hinduism as personifying the energy of their respective consorts. There are references of Saptamatrika worship in early Kadamba copper plates as well as early Chalukyas and Eastern Chalukya copper plates. But this new discovery predates them by almost 200 years.

The Inscription found: It is in Sanskrit and in Brahmi characters and was issued by Satavahana king Vijaya in 207 A.D. The inscription records construction of a prasada (temple), a mandapa (a pavilion for public rituals) and consecration of images on southern side of temple by a person named Kartika for merit of king at temple of Bhagavathi (Goddess) Saktimatruka (Saptamatrika) at Tambrape (which is the ancient name of Chebrolou). All the available records when verified, proved that Chebrolu inscription of Satavahana king Vijaya issued in his 5th regnal year (207 A.D.) is also the earliest datable Sanskrit inscription from South India so far. Until now the Nagarjunakonda inscription of Ikshavaku king Ehavala Chantamula issued in his 11th regnal year (4th century A.D.) was considered the earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India.

The place also yielded another inscription which is in Prakrit language and of Brahmi characters and belongs to 1st century A.D. This is thus the earliest epigraphic reference to Mutts and records gift of a cloister mandapa and chaitya to bhavatho (Lord) of the Gadasa Mutt by a person hailing from Tabaava.

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