The Department of Archaeology has planned a series of excavations — the first-ever — in the famous temple town of Srirangam, which also happens to be the chief minister Jayalalithaa’s constituency.
“The main objective of the excavations is to find out the historical antiquity of Srirangam,” a senior official of the department told Express. “We want to discover the ancient significance of the town.”
A proposal to this effect will soon be sent to the Central Board of Archaeology for approval and the excavations are expected to commence in September or October, the official said.
Despite strong literary evidence pointing to the antiquity of the temple town — it finds mention in Sangam literature — no significant excavations have been carried out there so far. “There is reference to Srirangam in Ilango Adigal’s Silapathikaram. A character called Malavan, on meeting the author of the epic, recounts his experience of having had darshan of Lord Vishnu in three postures, standing (Tirupati), seated (Azhagarmalai) and reclining (Srirangam),” she pointed out.
Interestingly, diggings will be carried out inside Sri Ranganathar Swamy Temple as well as around its vicinity. The move comes after renovation works at the 1,000-pillar mandapam inside the famous temple partly revealed buried figures. “The head portion of two elephants drawing a chariot-shaped structure is partially seen and, hence, we want to carry out more excavations to find what lies beneath the structure,” the official said.
A systematic survey of the town in the past by archaeologists had led to findings such as pottery, artifacts and beads and the perception is that the history of the town could date back to as early as 300 BC. Hence, the present proposal aims at finding adequate material evidence to find out the true antiquity of the temple town. The State government has also sanctioned `2 lakh for the excavations, she added.