Facelift for Sannati monuments at Rs 5 crore (US$ 1.23 mil)

by G S Srinivas, Newindpress, September 11 2007

GULBARGA, India -- The State Government would spend Rs 5 crore (US$ 1.23 mil) to develop the Sannati Buddhist heritage site located in Chittapur taluk in the district.

The monuments, which date back to the 1st to 3rd century AD, are the oldest among the Karnataka Buddhist sites and monuments.

Sannati stands as a significant cluster of dozens of Buddhist relics, which include two stupas, three mounds, one fortification, four major rock edicts and more than 75 contemporary inscriptions, all scattered across a compact area of about ten square kilometres.

Many relics from Sannati have been shifted to Gulbarga museum, but hundreds of statues, panels, pillars, pedestals, capitals and inscriptions on the lime stone are still lying on the open ground exposed to the unbearable summer, winter and vagaries of river Bhima which flows close by.

Sannati is also physically closer to the known Buddhist sites at Ter in Maharashtra and Nagarjuna Konda in Andhra Pradesh. But today the exposed relics are in danger of being stolen by antique smugglers.

Sensing this, the State Government has finally consented to develop Sannati by constructing a beautiful Buddhist style museum cum library at a cost of Rs 1.50 crore (US$ 369,000), with landscaping and ornamental gardens around the monuments.

Apart from that a guest house, garden, staff quarters, approach roads, internal roads, canteen and shops will also come up. The government has plans to shift all important Buddhist relics in Karnataka to the proposed Buddhist museum at Sannati.

Principal secretary of Revenue Department Shivanand M Zamdar, who is responsible to monitor the things told this website’s newspaper that they had already identified about 45 acres at a cost of Rs 80 lakh at Sannati and Kanaganalli in Chittapur taluk and it is in the final stage of acquisition.

Architect of the project, Bharath Bhushan of Kruti Consultants, said that they had already prepared a master plan to develop Sannati as a Buddhist heritage site with a museum and library.

The Department of Archaeology, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Krishna Bhagya Jala NIgam (KBJNL), ZP, district administration and the Department of Tourism have been involved in developing the heritage site.

The Sannati Development Board also has been formed under the chairmanship of Minister for Agriculture Marketing Sharanabasappa Darshanapur to monitor the work.

Several Indian and foreign scholars have done excavation in Sannati on the Mauryan Empire. In 1986-89 James Howell of the British Society for South Asian Studies conducted an excavation in the second stupa on Nalwar road.