Excavation of Maurya-era pond continues in a bid to list Tilaurakot in World Heritage Site

Published On: January 23, 2023 10:30 AM NPT By: Kiranman Bajracharya

KAPILVASTU, Jan 23: As part of the campaign to list Tilaurakot as a world heritage site, excavations have been started again this year inside the Tilaurakot Palace. A team of experts from the Department of Archeology has resumed the excavation of the Maurya-era pond in the central part of Tilaurakot.

Tilaurakot is believed to be the administrative hub of King Suddhodhan and the place where Siddartha Gautam spent 29 years in the fifth century BC. To list the Tilaurakot area in the World Heritage Site, various steps have been taken by the Lumbini Development Trust and the Department of Archeology. Excavation has been done here every year for more than a decade to get Tilaurakot listed in the World Heritage Site.

Similarly, land acquisition, conservation and various research studies are ongoing. With financial support from the UNESCO/ Japanese Funds in Trust,  a physical survey of the pond was carried out in 2014 by a team including the Department of Archeology, UK-based Durham University and the Lumbini Development Trust.

Chief Archaeological Officer of the Department of Archeology, Ram Bahadur Kuwar said that under the campaign to list Tilaurakot as a World Heritage Site, excavation studies and research works have been going on here for more than a decade.

He said that under this campaign, the Maurya-era pond, which was found during excavations last year, was excavated for further research. The survey revealed a structure with an area of 30 by 30 meters slightly sunken into the ground. Physical examinations showed a wide outer wall around it. Excavations revealed that there was a large pond lined with mud bricks inside the structure.

During the excavation in 2015, 26 layers of bricks were found and the layers of bricks were arranged in order, said Bhaskar Gyawali, an officer of the Department of Archeology. Bricks of the pond were found to be some 45 cm in length. Gyawali said that radio carbon dating of this structure revealed that the pond was built during the Mauryan period.

The department had started a study last year to identify the wall to the south of the pond. About 12 meters of the wall on the southern side was excavated last year. The remaining 11 meters will be excavated this year. He said that during the excavation, the length of the southern wall was found to be 27 meters.

Past excavations had revealed that there were 26 layers of bricks on the walls around the pond. Gyawali said that this year’s research has revealed the fact that this pond was built at different periods of time.

It is believed that the construction of the pond in Tilaurakot had a similarity with the city planning in Kathmandu Valley. Himal Upreti, the archeological officer of the Lumbini Development Trust, says that there may have been some common concepts of town planning between the Terai and the mountains of Nepal.

During the excavation of the pond in the past years, the remnants of a Maurya-era pond, Krisha-era coins, Panchmark coins, and various types of clay figures were unearthed.

Excavations have been carried out over the years in the central complex of the Tilaurakot palace, the Samaya Mai temple, the eastern entrance of the palace, the Kanthak Stupa, the Shiva Gadh and the empty area to the north of Tilaurakot.

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