Seer’s golden dream turning out to be nightmare for ASI in Unnao fort

Seer Shobhan Sarkar’s dream of 1,000 tonnes of gold in Unnao’s Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh fort is turning out to be a nightmare for the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Digging since October 18, all that the 12-member ASI team has found in the first trench so far — after reaching the depth of 4.8 metres — are few glass bangles, iron nails, hopscotch, fragmentary miniature stone figure of lion, terracotta arecanut shaped beads, two hearths and three burnt brick walls.

Sherds of black slipped ware, a sherd of northern black polished ware along with red ware sherds of early historical periods were also found, but no gold. Most of the finds range from first century BCE to 17th-18th century. Excavation in the first trench YB1 is now nearly over as archaeologists have hit gravel formation.

ASI director general Pravin Srivastava said, “Not all excavations end in finding something substantial.”

Publically, ASI is maintaining that the excavation has not been stopped. Excavation is getting widened, Srivastava said on Tuesday. From Wednesday excavation will begin in a new trench, XA2, which is near to the Ganges, and if gold is not struck there also, possibly after a fortnight the digging will be abandoned.

Srivastava denied that excavation was undertaken in a hurry without due diligence, as is the case with archaeological excavations. When asked why permission of the central advisory board of archaeology (CABA) was not undertaken as is stipulated, additional DG BR Manisaid, “It is not necessarily needed. CABA has a standing committee that looks at the proposals.” It is another matter that CABA itself has not been reconstituted.

Srivastava also said it has nothing to do with Sarkar’s infamous dream.The ASI DG said the area around Daudia Khera in Unnao district was always considered rich in archaeological remains. In the process, he said even the great Alexander Cunnigham — father of Indian archaeology and ASI’s first DG — had marked this area as a site consisting of archaeological and historical evidence.

However, it took more than a century and a seer’s dream for the ASI to go to Daudia Khera armed with a report of the Geological Survey of India ( GSI) that talked of metallic substances in the area.