Initiative to conserve Kumarabeedu artefacts gains traction

A slew of inscriptions and sculptures have been unearthed from this village and preserved locally

A local initiative to conserve and exhibit Jain artefacts belonging to ancient times that were unearthed over the last two decades in a village on the outskirts of Mysuru is gaining traction.

Located about 15 km from Mysuru off the Bogadi Road is Kumarabeedu village, where a slew of inscriptions and sculptures belonging to the Ganga (3rd century CE to 11th century CE) and the Hoysala period (11th century to 14th century) were unearthed and have been preserved locally.

A trust has been constituted to take forward the preservation and conservation exercise so that the artefacts recovered in the village are properly showcased to highlight the past glory and historicity of the region.

N.S. Rangaraju, convener, INTACH, Mysuru, said that members of the Jain community have formed this trust and there are plans to give greater protection to the artefacts. Apart from a few sculptures, pillars belonging to Jain temples too have been found underlying the antiquity of the region.

“The pillars are in a dilapidated state but can be restored. By using the same type of stones and other materials, even the roof can be rebuilt,” said Prof. Rangaraju. Among the sculptures that have been unearthed in the place is that of Parswanatha and a stone commemorating a local Jain guru who had embraced death by observing sallekhana, he added.

He said Varuna, Vajamangala and Varkodu in the region are known to have considerable Jain influence in the past of which there is evidence only in Varuna at present as the ancient artefacts have been preserved. Kumarabeedu falls in the same category and all efforts will be made to preserve its heritage, said Prof. Rangaraju.

There are also efforts to purchase the land where some of the artefacts were unearthed by the local farmers while tilling. Many farmers are unable to continue with agriculture and hence negotiations are on to purchase the land so that the artefacts could be exhibited after ensuring protection to it. Prof. Rangaraju said the issue will also be taken up with the State Archaeological Department to take the initiative forward.

They are trying to buy the land and are negotiating with the farmer. The latter finds it difficult to till because of the hardy and stone nature and wants to sell it off, said Prof. Rangaraju. A meeting of the Jain community was also held recently to underline the imperatives of preserving the artefacts for posterity. One of the sculptures unearthed at Kumarabeedu and found to be in good condition is now reckoned to be missing. Prof. Rangaraju said in the absence of protection, artefacts and sculptures tend to be stolen as there is an international market for it and stressed the urgency to safeguard them.

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