Vadnagar town in Gujarat knows how to make news. Well, on Sept 17,1950 — in this township was born a man called Narendra Damodardas Modi. But the township has a rich historical legacy also.
According to a Gujarat government spokesman, the hometown of Narendra Modi also finds mention in the Puranas as a thriving hub. This ancient town was also visited by a 7th century Chinese traveler named Hiuen Tsang, who wrote about the township in his travelogue 1400 years ago.
Recently archaeologists have found evidence of human settlement in the town perhaps in the time space — 4th century-3rd century Before Christian Era (BCE).
To promote Gujarat’s rich archaeological heritage in the context of Vadnagar, the state government in association with the Union Ministry of Culture organised a three-day Vadnagar International Conference in May this year.
In retrospect what were the themes or guiding thoughts that dominated the mindspace of those intellectuals and experts who attended the conference ? One take away has been that the governments across the world have long sought to protect and preserve the archaeological and historical richness of a place for various reasons – ranging from education to historical research to the desire to reinforce a sense of identity.
The conference aimed to achieve a simple milestone — turning Vadnagar into the Landmark Heritage Destination.
Others would say — there are multiple factors working. One school of thought would appreciate the socio-religious element, the aesthetic values and a sense of personal enrichment and satisfaction. There will be another which would interested in power politics, the authoritative control, the tales of kings and princesses and some other will look at it from a pure tourism point of view.
Vadnagar today represents all three.
There were more revelations. Mahabharata refers to the town as Anarta Kingdom (Anartapura) in the northern part of modern day Gujarat. Experts also said that some of the earliest mentions of the Vadnagar and adjoining region can be traced back to the 2nd century CE inscription in Mahakshtrapa Rudradaman.
For others, there is no gainsay to state that for centuries, Vadnagar was an important cultural and trading hub connected to Malwa, Saurashtra, Rajputana and Deccan regions of India.
It was of course an important Buddhist learning centre.
A series of important suggestions came up at the conclave.
# Contextual archaeology will be useful in the case of Vadnagar and the surrounding area.
# Vast data generated from these processes need to be effectively stored and published.
# Various resources should be synthesised to understand the site historically.
# Involvement and participation of communities are essential for the sustenance of the site.
Footprints of Buddhism:
Buddhism flourished in the township.
The Archeological Survey of India has unearthed structures resembling a Buddhist monastery in Vadnagar town.