Posted 01 May 2011, by Staff, News One, inewsone.com
Chamba (Himachal Pradesh), May 1 (IANS) Copper mines lying abandoned for over 200 years near this historical Himachal Pradesh town are finally getting its historical due with help to conserve them arriving from organisations and archaeologists.
They campaign to support the cause of Earthstation, a public charitable trust headquartered in New Delhi and in Khajjiar near the mines – to highlight the plight of the rediscovered Hul mines – is finding positive results. The Hul mines, located just about 20 km from Chamba in the Sahoo Valley, bear the imprint of history. They were alive and literally making money during the period of the erstwhile ruler of Chamba state, Raja Pratap Singh Verma, in the 16th century.
‘In a recent communication to Earthstation, US-based Society for Industrial Archaeology (SAI) president Jay McCauley has expressed concern over the status of the Hul mines,’ Earthstation chief executive officer Aniel Kuumar Bhalla told IANS.
‘McCauley says that a number of voluntary organisations in the Silicon Valley are willing to extend support to the cause,’ Bhalla said.
The SAI, encouraging the study, interpretation and preservation of historically significant sites, has also offered to assist in the conservation of the Hul mines.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) that carried out expeditions to the mines in 2009 and 2010 along with an thstation team expressed the need to undertake ethno-archaeological studies of the site.
‘K.C. Nauriyal and T.J. Alone (ASI officials then posted in Shimla circle) visited the site and found evidences of the ingenious ways of extracting metal from the mines,’ Bhalla said.
The ASI, in a missive to the district administration two years ago after the visits, wrote that ‘the whole gamut is an unmistakable reflection on the ancient wisdom. The 20 to 30 metre distance we have covered inside the mines is historical evidence par excellence’.
The 11-year-old Earthstation, the non-profit trust with a mandate to promote equitable and sustainable conservation and socio-economic development within the protected areas of the western Himalayas, has been credited with rediscovering the Hul mines.
Bhalla said the mines were rediscovered on the basis of information available in the Gazetteer of Chamba State (1904).
According to the Gazetteer, Raja Pratap Singh Verma (1559-86 AD), the erstwhile ruler of Chamba state, exploited the copper mines to make coins as state coinage. The mines supported the erstwhile state for over 300 years.
The metal was also used to repair historically important temples of Lakshmi Narayan in Chamba and Chander Shekhar Maharaj in Sahoo that were in a bad shape.
The mines were abandoned around 200 years ago.
‘If similar sites can be successfully preserved in the US and many parts of Europe, including The Great Orem Copper Mines in Europe, why not here?’ asked Bhalla.
‘We urge both the state and central governments to step forward and protect, do research on, conserve and develop this unique relic of Himalayan heritage under the National Monuments and Antiquity Act,’ he added.
P.R. Sharma of the ASI posted in Shimla also is keen to pursue the matter.
‘I came to know about the copper mines in Chamba from Earthstation. I will visit the site to know more about its historical importance,’ he said.
Chamba Deputy Commissioner Devesh Kumar had said 10 days ago that he had directed the officials to temporarily close the mouth of the mine shaft to prevent any authorised entry into the mines for minerals extraction.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at email@example.com)