Important archaeological sites of Uttarakhand
Baijnath identified as ancient Karttikayapura often is believe to be the seat the Katyuries, earliest ruling dynasty of central Himalayan region who had shifted their capital from Joshimath (District Chamoli) to this place sometimes in 8th Century AD. The main temple known as Baijnath is dedicated to Siva. Panchratha on plan, the temple consist of sanctum with projected portico. The plinth of the temple has five base moldings however, remaining portion is devoid of any decoration. The original shikhara of the temple is lost and the present one is a later addition which is a clerestoried tin-shed supported on wooden frame. The other shrines in the group are also identical both in plan and elevation. Among the important are Kedareswar, Lakshmi-narayan and Brahmani Devi temples.
The ancient site at Purola is located on the left bank of the river Kamal. The excavation yielded the remains of Painted Grey Ware (PGW) from the earliest level alongwith other associated materials including terracotta figurines, beads, potter-stamp, the dental and femur portions of domesticated horse (Equas Cabalus Linn). The most important finds from the site is a brick alter identified as Syenachiti by the excavator. The structure is in the shape of a flying eagle (Garuda), head facing east with outstretched wings. In the center of the structure is the chiti is a square chamber yielding remains of pottery assignable to circa first century B.C. to second century AD. In addition, copper coin of Kuninda and other material i.e. ash, bone pieces etc and a thin gold leaf impressed with a human figure, tentatively identified as Agni have also been recovered from the central chamber.
Remains of ancient Vairatpattana, the capital of the old kingdom of Govisana are spread in deep reserve forest of Jim Corbett National Park in Dhikuli. In the seventh century, the place was visited by Hieun Tsang. The remains of this ancient town are not easily accessible due to thick forest. But explorations in the past revealed the remains of a few platforms made of stone, and fine specimens of pillar capitals, medallions, lions and fragments of decorated pillars near the modern temple on the hill slope. Since the site is located at the entrance of the Central Himalayan hills, this place might have served as transit centre of trade in the past hence the place is called Pattan.
The site of Asoka’s inscriptions at Kalsi the only place in north India where the great Mauryan emperor has inscribed the set of the fourteen rock edicts (res). The language of these edicts is Pali and the script Brahmi which reflect Asoka’s humane approach in his internal administration, his fatherly concern for the moral and spiritual welfare of his subjects, and his commitment to non-violence and abandonment of warfare. For this Asoka proclaimed certain restrictive and prescriptive policies. The essence of the restrictive policies are restraint in worldly amusement, in gratuitous slaughter or non destruction of animals, in participating in despicable and useless beliefs and practices, and in glorification of one’s own faith. That of prescriptive ones: self-control, purity of mind, gratitude, and firm attachment service to parents and ascetics, alms to brahmins and sramanas (ascetics), seemly behaviour towards friends, relatives, acquaintances, servants and slaves, concordance in religious matters.
This ancient site was excavated by of Archaeological Survey of India between 1952 – 54, revealing remains of three fire alters and other associated material including inscribed bricks. Built in Syena Chiti form (Eagle shaped), these alters are believed to associate with the Ashvamedha sacrifices, perform by their authors. Sanskrit inscriptions in Brahmi characters of late third century AD, on bricks used in one of the three Jagatgram altars inform that king. Silavarman, alias Pona, of Yugasaila, who belonged to the Vrishagana gotra, performed four Asvamedha sacrifices here, indicating, perhaps, during the third century AD this western part of Central Himalaya was known as Yugasiala. In Pan Indian context such altars are extremely rare.
British cemetery, Roorkee
This is a vast cemetery having 33725 Sq m area (3372 Hectare/7.623 Acare) with a regular compound wall, pierced with an entrance gateway having a pointed arch of the Gothic style. The cemetery contains a number of graves including graves is of general Sir Harold Williams of different designs and materials belonging to mid nineteenth century. A part of the cemetery is still use as graveyard by Christian community of Roorkee.
There are six temples, five samadhis (memorials) of Sadhus and one inscribed water reservoir. Of these four temples stands in one complex while the remaining two temples and samadhis are situated in another complex circulated by separate boundary walls. The temples are generally triratha in plan with a short projected portico in front. These rekha sikhara temples are dedicated to God Vishnu, Shiva and Sun God. The samadhis are of very late period made in form of the miniature temple, probably belong to the Sadhus/Saints residing here in the recent past.
The water reservoir locally known as Jahnavi naul made of dressed stone masonry below the ground level where water oozing out from the ground. TYhe reservoir is covered with with a flat roof mandapa with pillar kakshakshana on either side. There is an inscription mentioning three dates-Samvatsara 1321 (AD 1264); Saka 1189 (AD 1276 ); and Saka 1197 (AD 1275), and refers to Rajanaraja Dhira, Queen Vilaisi, and Sri Ratha Chamndra Deva.
Dwarahat, Almora district
The celestial hamlet of Dwarahat located about 34 km from Ranikhet is a small town that was once the seat of Katyuri Kingdom. Dwarahat literally suggests the ‘Way to Heaven’ and is famous for its ancient temples which have an influence of Gurjari School of Art. The history buffs can visit the town and witness the 55 remarkable temples that have been standing tall since ages. The credit for the architectural grandeur of these temples goes to the Katyuri Dynasty who ruled over Kumaon for a significant period of time.