Archaeologists and heritage conservationists are excited about the recent discovery of an ancient statue in Dhulikhel. The statue was found about 300 meters below the surface on the Araniko Highway, in Dhulikhel Municipality-3 of Kavre, by the locals a few days ago. This has animated the social media as well.
“The statue was first found by the locals during road construction on Friday evening. The locals then decided to take it home but other villagers came to know about the idol the next morning, ” said Shreekrishna Dhimal, a local, who is also a member of the Panchkhal Valley Archaeological Study and Research Committee.
After seeing this unique piece of sculpture, Dhimal along with other people decided to consult archaeologists, and they believe that it dates back to the first or second century BC.
The piece looks like a statue of a goddess, and is delicately crafted with jewelries on its outline. The right hand is amputated and the idol is only upto its waistline. However, even with missing parts it is easy to guess that the idol carries significant historical and cultural, explains Dhimal.
The statue is thought to be of an ancient Kirat goddess. It resembles a Kirati woman, and is believed to be of the Kirat period. “If that is the case then the statue is believed to be about 3,800 years old,” he added.
Udhav Acharya, an archaeologist, states that the features of this particular statue show that its origin dates back to primordial times. “The features of this statue coincide with few other statues from the second or third century BC. It is unequivocally one of the oldest statues in Nepal,” he added.
Other experts say that an immediate investigation should be carried out to ascertain the origin of the statue. Himawatkhanda.com, a website run by Dhimal, has some interesting comments about the statue from experts. “This amazingly charming statue of an ancient Nepali woman found in Dhulikhel holds an important place in Nepali art and history,” said Prof. Madan Kumar Rimal, head of the Archeology Department at Tribhuvan University.
An article from the website includes a statement from Prakash Khadka, a cultural and historical expert. “Comparing and studying other statues in the Valley, I think this statue is from the second or third century and it carries a great significance,” Khadka said.
The same website also published an article by Manish Yogal Shrestha, a heritage expert from Kavrepalanchowk, where he writes: “The recently found statue in Dhulikhel is unique. If a local museum can be built in the near future, we could secure such treasures which would help increase interest to search for other hidden treasures in Kavrepalanchok district. Thus an investigation should be carried out.”
However, despite comments from experts, little attention has been given by the authorities about the statue.
Ashok Kumar Banju, Mayor of Dhulikhel Municipality, said the statue has been safely transferred to the Dhulikhel Municipal building. “After receiving information about the statue, local youth and engineers handed it over to the municipality for its protection and research. The statue is with the Department of Archeology, local administration, Dhulikhel Municipality and the local stakeholders,” said Banju.
Few people say that the statue might have been misplaced due to calamities like landslides. One hypothesis is that it might have been carried along with soil and stone brought in during the construction of Chankhubesi-Panchkhal road in Batase Danda area.
However, others suspect that the statue might have been stolen from the place of its origin. “The authorities should immediately investigate how such a valuable property was taken away from its place of origin. It could assuredly be a case of smuggling or theft,” said Dhimal.
A statue of a sea god was found on March 22 while digging a road in Sathikhar of Panchkhal Municipality-9. A statue of Bageshwari Manjushri (Goddess) was found by a local youth while digging a road in Thulichaur, Panchkhal Municipality-1in the first week of April.
An ancient ‘pillar’ was also found at Temalbensi in Panchkhal-13 during a search operation in October 2019.
“All of these findings might be interconnected and might involve a story of theft or smuggling,” suspects Dhimal, who claims that this issue should not be taken lightly.
However, Mayor Banju stated the facts about the statue will come out only after proper investigations by the Department of Archeology. Source: The Republica