The ministry of culture, it is learnt, has directed ASI to initiate the process of reviving its underwater archaeology department, thereby giving a fillip to the government’s plans to set up mythological circuits.

Aerial view of Rama Setu shoals

The defunct underwater wing of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is set for a revival with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the government keen to establish the scientific veracity of Dwarka, the mythological submerged capital of Lord Krishna’s kingdom, and the Rama Setu, a set of limestone shoals believed to date back to the Ramayana. The ministry of culture, it is learnt, has directed ASI to initiate the process of reviving its underwater archaeology department, thereby giving a fillip to the government’s plans to set up mythological circuits. Interestingly, the ASI currently does not have any expertise to conduct underwater excavations. Though a department exists on paper, ASI has neither the required equipment nor the skill-sets to excavate deep in the sea.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> ASI has now initiated the exercise in collaboration with National Institute of Oceanography, Goa to set up its underwater centre. ASI will also be training archaeologists and sea divers to conduct the study and establish their links. But the plans are on to fill up the lacuna. ASI has now initiated the exercise in collaboration with National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, to set up its underwater centre. Archaeologists and sea divers will be trained to conduct the studies. “The National Institute of Oceanography has the expertise. They will be training our fleet of young divers,” said Dr RS Fonia, ASI joint director general. The ministry of culture, the nodal ministry for ASI, is also looking at options to bring on board international experts from the field of ocean archaeology. “The government wants to clear all doubts and settle all debates about the existence of Dwarka and Rama Setu. The two sites will be a part of the Rama Circuit and the Krishna Circuit being proposed by ministry of tourism,” said an official of the ministry. Besides the Rama and Krishna, developing tourism around Lord Buddha and Sufi shrines are also in the pipeline. Both Dwarka and Rama Setu have a deep connect with Hindu mythology. While the submerged city of Dwarka in the west is believed by some to be the lost city of Krishna, Rama Setu, or Adam’s Bridge, the limestone shoals from Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu to the northern coast of Sri Lanka, is taken by a section of Hindu devotees to be the bridge that Rama crossed to bring Sita back from the clutches of the demon king Ravana. With one site recalling the Mahabharata and the other the Ramayana, the RSS would like to make them part of the Rama, Krishna circuits being developed by the ministry of tourism.

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RSS gives defunct ASI wing a job: Search for Dwarka, Rama Setu