Sanghol – Quick Trip to 4000yrs ago era and back
I have passed the Harrapan age rather civilization (4000 years old) sites and museum in Sanghol unnoticed so many times that I was surprised to discover them while goggling for something. They are on the highway. I could not believe that they were so close, and on my route to village. A route which I take twice a year as if it is a pilgrimage. Once while going to my village on bike last year, I saw a yellow 4×3 feet board right next to road – Ancient Buddhist monastery 1st – 2nd Century AD. Since I was driving fast and there was rush on the road, I could not and did not stop. I had just seen the board, not the name of the place or road sign – Sanghol. I thought, once I am back, I will come here again just for this as it is so near, 50km at best, probably 45km. It was a Buddha site, and I like and try to follow the teaching of Buddha. On my next trip to village again, I was on lookout for the sign board but somehow could not see it. Maybe I was looking at wrong place, too early probably. And then I forgot about it.
When I started to make my blog, I listed all the places in Punjab which one should see if one is here. I jotted Sanghol down too, not realizing that this is the same place I was looking for last year but could not find. I was thinking I will discover one more attraction and put it on site. It will be my first new find. My Eureka moment, I have arrived by discovering an undiscovered attraction, though small, moment 🙁 When the initial work on my blog was done, and I had posted few posts, the time of Sanghol came. Knowing that tourist attractions are closed on Monday, and today sky is clear with no fog, I decided to make this quick trip in the morning itself.
Monastery Sites – Sanghol
We, Dad and I, picked my car, and started at 12:30PM. I was a bit surprised to find roads unusually empty. Soon after exiting Chandigarh, the sun went into hiding, fog started, and temperatures dropped due to open spaces / fields. Since I tend to drive fast, I crossed the yellow sign board and the museum again before seeing road sign – Sanghol, take left. It was about a kilometer ahead of monastery Site No. 11. I turned left to a single lane village road. Not sure if I was right, I stopped to ask for the museum, and was confirmed I am about a kilometer ahead, but on right road, an alternate route. Least I knew I was being directed to Site No. 5, another site, the bigger site. I parked my car on the narrow road made specifically for this site and opened the gate to see the site. Since the tourists trickle in ones and twos now and then, the caretaker was chit chatting with a farmer in the fields opposite and passing the day, rather than sitting alone waiting for tourists on a cold foggy day. I read the informative board, opened my tripod and started taking photos. With my unkempt beard, and no regard for surrounding in form of waiting for somebody to open the gate, and getting straight down to work (read taking photographs) I think I gave the impression that I am somebody, a photographer for newspaper? Maybe. An official from some department on tour? Perhaps if not the first. After all tourists don’t come on a cold day inside the village and don’t walk around without permission even if the care taker is absent. 😛 The guy came rushing in order not to be caught off duty and recorded as lapse. I don’t think he believed when I said I am clicking because I like to click. Site 5 Stupa was much bigger than Site 11 Stupa but Site 11 had a monastery also which is not there in Site 5. While chit chatting with him, me trying to get more info about the place and he trying to ensure if I am from the department, came to know that this was an accidental discovery. While ploughing the fields. The plough of the tractor had got stuck in a statue. When more digging happened, more statues came out. These monastery sites were discovered during professional digging by the Archaeological Survey of India. The bricks are still the same – 1 – 2 AD century. However drainage pipes etc have been inserted to ensure the longevity of historical site. Apparently, he was the guy who had found the site and dug up. I was impressed.
From here, we retraced our steps and went back to the highway for site 11. Much smaller than site no. 5, but equally well maintained. It only required a quick look and couple of photos to be clicked. Here no chit chatting happened. I was not misread as department employee on field visit but as a tourist.
From here, another kilometer or less was the museum. I was again about to miss it but saw the board just in time! Though its right on the corner of the turn, but due to entry gate being on inside road, it can be easily missed as another government building or a public institution unless you have an eye for reading signboards heavily guarded by leaves of the trees.
After buying the entry tickets for Rs. 10 only per person and being told that no photos can be clicked inside, I stopped to take the photo of information board outside. Due to its size and fall of sun rays on it, I had to take more than one. I folded my tripod, and holding it in my hand (being switched off and lens covered) , I entered the museum, followed by the caretaker to ensure that I won’t take pictures. Punjabis are known to bypass small/ petty rules, saying ke farak payenda hai (how does it matter) hence the customary extra precaution.
Sanghol museum is a treasure trove for history and art lovers. Of the 117 items of excavated, almost all are on display here in this museum. They range from statues and sculptures to daily use items of utensils, jewelry, and coins indicating that civilization was thriving here at one point of time. These artifacts have been dated to be ~4000yrs old signifying life existed here back then. This life and civilization is the same one which you read about in your history chapter of Indus Valley Civilization – Mohenjo Daro and Harappa Civilization in primary school. Do you recall any history lessons of yours? 😀 What you had seen in pictures and imagined then are right in front of you. You were staring at the famous Ghandhara school of art statues and sculptures which have all the detailed engravings to see. You are standing where first city known to humankind with modern urban planning ever existed – Harappa
While talking to the museum caretaker, he proudly emphasized that he had himself dug up all these artifacts. I like the way Punjabis put across points. I am very sure, he would had most likely found one artifact while digging was going on or probably he was supervising part of the digging being done by the archaeological department. Since he is part of the village, and artifacts were found in the Sanghol village, and village is ours, so artifacts were found by us. I is part of us, hence he found ‘all these artifacts’ On the way out I took photo of the museum sign board before sitting in the car to drive back. While analyzing the statements of the caretakers and removing the ‘noise’ from them, I realized Punjab is still like it was when I was a kid. It probably then was like this earlier also. Perhaps 4000yrs earlier too.
I reached home by 3:30pm. Saw and met 4000yrs ago history. Quick trip indeed.