Indian Campus Media

Mumbai University archaeological exhibition: Medieval land-grant stone from BARC dating back to 12th century not on display this time

Last year, a group of archaeologists had dug up the stone from BARC campus during an expedition

ONE OF the major attractions last year at the archaeological exhibition of the University of Mumbai, a stone with a medieval inscription dating back to the 12th century, is missing from the exhibition this year. The land-grant stone, excavated from the premises of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) last year, is currently in possession of the nuclear research centre.

According to officials of the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies (CEMS) hosting the exhibition, BARC has not responded to several requests sent through letters and emails to loan the stone for the exhibition.

Mugdha Karnik, the director of CEMS, said: “We tried to reach out to BARC to get the stone for our exhibition. All our efforts have been in vain as we have not received any response.”

This despite a letter from the state government’s Directorate of Archaeology and Museum instructing BARC to lend the stone to CEMS for the exhibition. “Please note that the said inscription is an important artifact for the history and urbanisation of Mumbai city and thus should be made available for public view.. This directorate is of the opinion that the said inscription should be loaned to the Centre for Extra Mural Studies, Mumbai University, for the duration of the public exhibition after completing necessary documentary formalities,” read the letter from the directorate addressed to BARC director K N Vyas.

The directorate also sought suggestions from BARC for permanent safe custody and upkeep of the inscription. Vyas was unavailable for comment and did not respond to an email sent by The Indian Express.

Last year, a group of archaeologists had dug up the land-grant stone from BARC campus during a city-wide expedition.

The inscription dates back to the Shilahara period, which for the first time, gives evidence about the city’s pre-Portuguese era. The CEMS had then put up the stone on display for visitors.

“Unfortunately, the relic is not available this year,” said Karnik. However, another land-grant stone recovered from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre would be on display at the exhibition.

It has clear inscriptions. The stone dates back to Kartika shuddha Dwadashi, Samvat 1290 (i.e. CE 1368), and the inscriptions refer to Delhi Sultan Feroz Shah Tughlaq and his local vassal Hambirrao from the Bimba Dynasty. “The place referred to in the inscription is Konkan-Bimbasthana and there are names of villages identifiable today, which include Marol, Nanale, Devnare (Devnar),” said Karnik.