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Amaravati relics at British Museum; PM urged to get them back

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | DC CORRESPONDENT
Published Oct 21, 2021, 12:43 am IST
Updated Oct 21, 2021, 1:12 pm IST
The shrine of Amaravati of 280 BC, ancient Buddhist monuments of India and Amaravati marbles are with the British Museum
Centuries-old historic and valuable artifacts, sculptures and antique pieces of the Buddhist period and various dynasties of AP are showcased at British Museum Gallery No 33A in London. (Photo: British Museum Gallery)
 Centuries-old historic and valuable artifacts, sculptures and antique pieces of the Buddhist period and various dynasties of AP are showcased at British Museum Gallery No 33A in London. (Photo: British Museum Gallery)

ANANTAPUR: Centuries-old historic and valuable artifacts, sculptures and antique pieces of the Buddhist period and various dynasties of AP are showcased at British Museum Gallery No 33A in London. Calls are being made to the Centre by historians to get them back to India.

The shrine of Amaravati of 280 BC, ancient Buddhist monuments of India and several sculptures known as Amaravati marbles are with the British Museum. Historians and devotees are urging the Centre to get these back to Amaravati. They point out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, in a similar fashion, helped get back some artifacts and antique pieces from the US.

 

The PM, during his recent visit of the US, convinced the US Administration to hand over several artifacts and antiquities. Among them, around 71 artifacts were of cultural importance while 60 were connected to Hinduism, 16 to Buddhism and nine to Jainism of the 11th and 14th Centuries.

Now, historians want the Centre to concentrate on priceless relics of the Buddhist dynasty lying with the British Museum. In fact, Gallery 33 A in the British Museum has valuable objects named as Amaravati --a Buddhist shrine with Amaravati Stupam that was established in Guntur district in the 3rd Century BC.

 

After the Stupam gained attention in the 18th Century, Colin Mackenzie excavated the area and another British researcher removed parts of the sculpture and kept them in the Madras Museum by 1845. However, the relics were shifted to London in 1859.

Though the repatriation of objects has gained public attention for many years, there was considerable success in retrieving these objects from other countries during the past few years. ASI sources say the government has been able to get back 40 art objects between 2014 and 2020, and a few more objects are set for return.

 

Historian Dr.Jasti Veeranjineyulu had recently visited the British Museum and observed the valuable antique pieces of Buddhist era, Jain dynasty and ancient idols of Hindu gods that were placed in the separate gallery.

A letter was sent to PM Modi by historian Jasti Veeranjineyulu, seeking his intervention to retrieve the objects from the British Museum, to restore the majesty and grandeur of the Amaravati museum. “Priceless curios were taken away from Amaravati especially the relics of Buddhist and Satavahana dynasties during the British rule and they have been showcased in the British museum gallery 33 A,” he stated in the letter.

 

Along with Amaravati sculptures, there were also those of Lord Budda, a Lord Nataraj bronze statue and the Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati statues of 1100 AD in the gallery.

In addition, large numbers of archeological remains linked to the Buddhist Stupam of Amaravati are in the custody of the National Museum in New Delhi and the Indian Museum of Kolkata. They would do well to transfer these to the Amaravati Museum, he proposed.

The Under Secretary to the government had called for a report from both museums four years ago but it did not materialize.

 

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