Following the discovery of Mohenjo-Daro along the banks of Indus and Harappa about 350 miles away, archaeologists started looking for other sites in the area. New sites were discovered, but they were buried under the sand in the desert. Archaeologists knew that these towns could not survive in the desert and satellite images have now shown that in what is now Thar Desert, once traversed a river with its own fertile banks. Geologists have identified this river, an extension of the present day Ghaggar, as the Saraswati river mentioned in the Vedic scriptures. Originally the Saraswati flowed through Rajasthan and met the ocean at the Gulf of Kutch near the Kathiawar peninsula.
Romila Thapar thinks that this identification of Ghaggar with Sarasvati is controversial since Sarasvati is said to cut through high mountains and that is not the landscape of the Ghaggar. She believes that early references to Sarasvati could be to the Haraxvati Plain in Afghanistan.
During the time of the NDA administration, Jagmohan started this Saraswati Heritage Project to conduct archaeological excavations in the region.
So far, excavation has already been undertaken in 10 places – Adi Badri, Thanesar, Sandhauli, Bhirrana, Hansi (all in Haryana), Baror, Tarkhanwala Dhera, Chak 86 (all in Rajasthan), Dholavira and Juni Karan in Gujarat. The project’s action taken report claims that during the excavation, remains from the pre-Harappan, Harappan and even medieval times have been discovered. [Times of India]
Then the usual words – saffronization of history, attempts to push the antiquity of Indian civilization were thrown and the Sonia Gandhi administration has scrapped the project. Now Haryana’s Public Health Minister Mr Randeep Singh Surjewala has taken a lead in the search for Saraswati.
Mr Surjewala will soon convene a joint meeting of experts from the Archeological Survey of India, the Geological Survey of India, the Oil and Natural Gas Commission, the ISRO, and other organizations to form a joint working group to trace the paleo-channel of the ancient sacred, Saraswati.
After watching a presentation on the Saraswati paleo-channel here yesterday, Mr Surjewala said the government had twin interests in launching this project — first to find out whether there was any under-ground aquifer in Haryana and secondly even if there was any slight possibility of it, then to harness the water of this channel.
He said the mythical Saraswati was described as the biggest water reservoir by the Rig Veda and Yajurveda and presently confirmed by the satellite images.
The focus was to discover new sources of water by linking the past with the future.
He said the satellite images had confirmed the major course of Saraswati was present through the present day Gaggar which further passed through parts of Haryana, including Kurukshetra, Kalayat and Kaithal. Finally, the channel passed through parts of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan and adjoining regions in Pakistan before discharging into Rann of Kutch.