Expert moots Underwater Museum for Dwaraka

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Bangalore, Jan 17 (UNI) Marine Archaeologist S R Rao today urged the government to take immediate steps to protect the historical underwater city of Dwaraka from looting, and mooted an underwater museum for the purpose.

Dr Rao, who unearthed the legendary city of Mahabharata,told UNI here there was an urgent need to protect the unique underwater cultural heritage of India in the light of serious threat to such monuments from looting.

He had submitted a project report for building a Rs 15 crore underwater museum to the Gujarat Government and the Centre to save this piece of heritage.

''It will surely be viable as a tourist destination. I hope both the governments will act before it is too late to save the city destroyed by powerful earthquake and tsunami in the 18th century, said Dr Rao, a Former Director of National Institute Oceanography.

''India has the richest Underwater Cultural Heritage in the form of shipwrecks and scores of submerged ports, some of which like Dwaraka, Kurkai, Poompuhar, Sopara and Kalingapatna have been great emporia of trade besides helping in expanding political influence in South East Asia,'' he said.

''What is urgently needed is a coastal survey for identifying shipwrecks, and submerged ports to prevent clandestine unscientific digging and disposal of antiques.

''More urgent work of preserving the submerged city built by Lord Krishna, covering about 250 acre underwater on Suarashtra Coast, should be attended to before whatever structure discovered during our 12-year-effort of exploration and documentation are destroyed as the sea will mercilessly cover the legendary city again,'' he said.

The museum should throw light on various aspects of life during the Mahabharata period of India in general and Gujarat in particular. On the controversial Ram Sethu project, Dr Rao said none could deny the historical importance of Ramayana and Mahabharata and the project would lead to negating the very core of Indian culture and traditions.

The preservation of the site should be guided not only by archaeological and historical value of the site but also sentiments and religious importance.

During his exploration of Ram Sethu, he had noticed numerous huge boulders over natural rock formation towards the Indian end.

Also a Former Member of International Committee for Underwater Cultural Heritage, Dr Rao said the placement of huge boulders needed technology used by the people of the Ramayana period in placing the rocks.

UNI SIV GM AKJ BST1513

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