Recent Research on the Sarasvati River

        There is a book available that goes further into the details of the Saravati river research,  'New Discoveries About Vedic Sarasvati' written by Dr Ravi Prakash Arya. He is the Chief Editor of Vedic Science journal.

        Kolkata (on Ma_gha Shukla Panchami day: Sarasvati janma tithi celebration held in a big way on Feb. 17, 2002), Delhi, Kalibangan, Mohangarh (Jaisalmer Dist.) where the river is flowing again: 40 ft. wide, 12 ft. deep channel; the huge inaugural plaque there reads: Sarasvati mahanadi ru_pa_ nahar.


India's 'miracle river'

        Scientists say new evidence could unearth the Saraswati. The legend of the mighty Saraswati river has lived on in India since time immemorial. Ancient Hindu scriptures called the Vedas, recorded thousands of years ago, are full of tantalizing hymns about it being the life-stream of the people.

        In a new radio programme, Madhur Jaffrey recounts the legend of the Saraswati river - and explores startling new evidence that it may not have been a myth after all. Vast and awesome, the Saraswati's holy waters are supposed to have flowed from the Himalayas into the sea, nourishing the land along the way. But as the centuries passed and no one could find it, myth, belief and religion came together and the Saraswati passed into the realm of folklore.

        Now most people in India think of it as a mythical river. Some even believe that it is an invisible river or that it still flows underground. Another commonly held perception is that the Saraswati once flowed through the north Indian city of Allahabad, meeting there with two other rivers, the Ganges and the Jamuna. The confluence of these three rivers - one of which is not visible to the eye - is considered one of India's holiest spots.

Below is a satellite view of the Sarasvati River basin running from the Himalayan Mountains to the west coast of India.




Saraswati, Hindu goddess of Learning

        For most of the country, the name Saraswati is better known for its divine namesake - the goddess Saraswati, Hindu goddess of Learning. Worshiped particularly by students and school children, her festival falls in February, and the city of Calcutta is famous for celebrating her in style. Makeshift shrines are erected in every street and after the festival is over, thousands of the images are taken to the banks of the river Hooghly and pitched into the water where they are forever carried away by the river.

        The goddess' connection to water is part of the enigma that surrounds the river. But that mystery could be set to be dispelled forever, as startling scientific evidence has come to light. Through satellite photography, scientists have mapped the course of an enormous river that once flowed through the north western region of India. The images show that it was 8 km wide in places and that it dried up 4,000 years ago.

        Dr JR Sharma who heads the Remote Sensing Services Centre in Jodhpur which is mapping the images, believes a major earthquake may have played a part in the demise of the Saraswati. There was, he says, a big tectonic activity that stopped the water supply to the river. Sharma and his team believe they have found the Saraswati and are excited about what this discovery could mean for India. The idea is to tap its potential as a water source. They are working with India's leading water experts who are using the satellite images as clues.

Scientists hope to find water under the desert

        Deep in the western Rajasthan desert, not far from the security- conscious border with Pakistan, an extraordinary programme is underway. Giant drilling rigs probe deep into the dry, arid earth pulling out undisturbed layers of soil and sediment for scientists to study and test. Water engineers are exploring the region's ancient riverbeds for what they call groundwater - underground reservoirs that contain perfectly drinkable water. If they are successful, their discovery could transform the lives of thousands of locals who currently experience harsh water shortages.

        Mr KS Sriwastawa of the Rajasthan State Groundwater Board believes one of these ancient buried channels may be the Saraswati. He knows the stories refer to the ancient river flowing through this area and says excitedly that carbon dating has revealed that the water they are finding is 4000 years old. That would date it to the time of the Saraswati. The modern search for the Saraswati was first sparked by an English engineer called CF Oldham in 1893 when he was riding his horse along the dry bed of a seasonal Rajasthani river called the Ghaggar.

        As he rode on, he was struck by a sudden thought. The Ghaggar when it flowed, was a small, puny river and there was no reason for its bed to be up to 3km wide in places unless it occupied the former course of a much larger river - the Saraswati. The discovery of a vast prehistoric civilisation that lived along the banks of a major river, has added impetus to the growing modern belief that the Saraswati has been found. Over 1000 archaeological sites have been found on the course of this river and they date from 3000 BC. One of these sites is the prehistoric town of Kalibangan in northern Rajasthan.

        The town has proved a treasure trove of information about the Bronze Age people who actually lived on the banks of the Saraswati. Archaeologists have discovered that there were priests, farmers, merchants and very advanced artists and craftsmen living there. Highly sophisticated seals on which there is evidence of writing have also been found, indicating that these people were literate, but unfortunately the seals have never been deciphered. They may well hold the clue to the mystery of what happened to the Saraswati and whether it has really been found again.

        The Miracle River is [was] broadcast at 3.30pm on Saturday 29 June, 2002 on BBC Radio 4

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The Recent Research into the Sarasvati River

The URL which details the efforts to trace River Sarasvati is at:

What a privilege it is to be part of this endeavor, unparalleled in the history of human civilization, as a 1600 km. long river which got desiccated about 4000 years ago comes alive to enable the present and future generations to recollect memories of Vedic cultural heritage, which is world heritage.

Jagmohan sets about bringing Saraswati alive


Times News Network [ SATURDAY, JUNE 15, 2002 1:05:27 AM ]

        NEW DELHI: A day after Culture Minister Jagmohan announced excavation to trace the ancient course of the Saraswati, the 'lost' river of Harappan civilisation, he has already set up a team of four "experts" who will undertake this onerous task.

        Though Jagmohan denies the project is linked to the Sangh Parivar's agenda of equating Harappan civilisation with Hindus, he does talk of myths associated with several areas in Haryana where the Saraswati presumably once flowed. "Marxist historians have fed us on a certain kind of history. One should not close options," he says, adding, "If there is any evidence of Saraswati, we will see it, otherwise we will not push forward any view."

        The four experts Baldeo Sahai of ISRO, Ahmedabad, archaeologist S Kalyan Raman, glaciaologist YK Puri, and water consultant Madhav Chitle -- will carry out the first phase of excavation from Adi Badri to Bhagwanpura in Haryana followed in second phase from Bhagwanpura to Kalibangan on Rajasthan border.

        Along with tracing the river's course, the experts have been tasked with deepening Kapalmochan and Ranmochan "two wells fed by Saraswati where Pandavas had come and taken bath," says Jagmohan. If the effort does not yield Saraswati water in the wells, the experts have been told tap tubewells. "People consider it sacred. Right now water is muddy. Tubewell

water will be clean and faithfuls can take bath," says Jagmohan.

        Another place where Saraswati will be traced is Thanesar, capital of Harshvardhan, a few kilometres from Kurukshetra. "Saraswati flowed here also and we have marked six points to trace its route," says Jagmohan. Plan also is to excavate seven mounds in Rakhigarhi, where minister claims five are of Harappan lineage and two of pre-Harappan times. With all this work, Jagmohan is "confident that Saraswati will come alive."

        But Jagmohan's confidence is not shared by noted historians Suraj Bhan and Irfan Habib. Says Suraj Bhan, "In the 1960s, I worked in this area to trace the Saraswati's route. In Adi-badri no course of the Saraswati can be seen." He also denies having found any evidence related to Pandava period in this area.

        "The legend goes that there were 1400 pilgrim centres on the Saraswati. RSS for decades has been working on the Saraswati project. In 1980s, its Itihas Sankalan Samiti and Apte Memorial Committee did take it up in a big way. The idea is to revive brahminism and sanctity of Vedas. Now it is showing dividends," he observes. "All of us know there is water underground which will come out through excavation anywhere," he says. "How can it be called Saraswati's water. Important thing is to trace the dry course of Ghaggar which has already been done." Habib, who has written extensively on Saraswati, feels the exercise is a "waste of money". The Hindutva historians, he notes, claimed Saraswati flowed from the Himalayas and now they are tracing it in the foothills of the Shivaliks. "This is an attempt by the RSS to make Harappan civilisation synonymous with Saraswati culture," he says.



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Efforts to trace Saraswati's course

The Tribune, Chandigarh, June 13, 2002 Our Correspondent

Yamunanagar, June 12.

        Union Culture and Tourism Minister Jagmohan has said research work on the Saraswati river would be undertaken on a priority basis. While addressing a seminar on Saraswati river research held here today, he said the Saraswati, originating from har Ki Doon glacier in the interior Himalayas, after crossing the Shivalik range, enters into the plains, near Adi Badri in the district.

        He said he had been to Adi Badri today along with Union Minister of State for Home I.D. Swami. He said since the last century, several scholars and organizations had been making efforts to trace the course of Saraswati river. He lauded the contribution of the National Remote Sensing Agency, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the Indian Space Research Organization, the Geological Survey of India and the Central Water Commission in this regard.

He announced that the work regarding tracing the course of Saraswati river would be started shortly in two phases, first from Adi Badri to Bhagwanpura and in Kurukshetra district and second from Bhagawanpur to Sirsa. He also announced that watershed management and water-harvesting dams would be constructed shortly by the Union Government.

        Mr. Jagmohan announced that an international seminar on Saraswati river will be conducted at Kurukshetra in December. Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala assured the Union Government that the state government would provide all assistance in the development of Adi Badri and Kapal Mochan as pilgrim spots. He said Saraswati was revered not merely for its sanctity but also for being the mother of the ancient civilization and cradle of vedic literature that was conceived on its banks.


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Project to Revive Sarasvati River


Times News Network [ SATURDAY, JUNE 15, 2002 1:29:54 AM ]

        SHIMLA: Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Prakalp, Bangalore, director Dr S Kalyanaraman said on Friday that the search for the "mythical" Sarasvati river, which began about 16 years ago, had reached a stage where it could be said that the river was neither a myth nor a legend, but hard fact.
        Delivering a lecture organized by the Institute of Integrated Himalayan Studies at the Himachal University here, he said that after years of intensive research through scientific techniques, he could trace the origin of the river and the civilization which prospered along its banks.

        ``The revival of Sarasvati river begins in Haryana, with the water harvesting project from Adh Badri through Bilaspur and Kapala Mochan up to Pehoa, a distance of about 150 km, check-dams, clearing of the water-ways, restoration and renewal of the ghats of river and elimination of pollutants,'' he said.

        "It is a proud moment that our engineers and scientists have established the feasibility of reviving this great Vedic river, with a conjunctive use of surface and sub-surface drainage systems. The feasibility study of the National Water Development Agency has been going on for the last 19 years and is continuing," he added.

        Kalyanaraman said that the Rajasthan Canal, also called Sarasvati Mahanadirupanahar, was now flowing till Danan in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan and would be extended to Gedra Road in Barmer district of the state.

        "The waters of Sutlej river, which was the anchorage river of Sarasvati, flowing from Harike can be taken to the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, through the Mahanadirupanahar," he added. He said that of the nearly 2600 archeological sites of varying sizes, over 1500 settlements were found on the Sarasvati river basin, which included settlements larger than those of Harappa and Mohenjodaro.

        Director of Himalayan Studies Yoginder Verma said that the research project being undertaken by the Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Prakalp aimed at making the river flow again in north-west India from Mansarovar to Gujarat and to interlink Himalayan and peninsular rivers to create a 40,000-km long national waterway in the country. This, along with the long coastline, would improve the infrastructure facilities in the country and complement the railways and national highways, he added.

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Indian Satellites Find Water Under Desert

        Hyderabad July 28, 2002. India's remote sensing satellites have traced the buried course of Saraswati, the mythical Himalayan river, kindling hopes of finding drinking water under the hot sands of the Thar desert in Rajasthan.

        Mentioned in the Rig Veda, the Hindu scripture, and other ancient literature, the river is believed to have once flowed, parallel to the Indus, through what is now desert before falling into the Arabian Sea.

        According to published literature, the river disappeared between 5000 BC and 3000 BC due to tectonic events in the Himalayas, that cut off the water supply, and climatic changes that converted what was once a lush green Rajasthan into an arid zone. Past attempts to accurately trace the lost river and reconstruct its drainage system did not succeed.

        "Recent advancements in space-based sensors and in data processing technologies made it possible", says J. R. Sharma of the Jodhpur-based Remote Sensing Service Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He and his colleagues, A. K. Gupta and G. Sreenivasan have mapped the "palaeo channels" relics of the river and its tributaries using data from three different sensors on board Indian satellites.

        Mr. Sharma said over telephone that 13 borewells drilled along the predicted river course have yielded water at a depth of 35 to 40 metres. The size of the palaeo channels, as estimated from satellite data, was huge, about 15 to 40 metres thick, implying that there was plenty of water out there. "The Government of Rajasthan is planning to increase the number of borewells to 50 in two months and has earmarked Rs. 40 million for the project," he said, adding, "chemical analysis indicates these palaeo channels could form a source for good quality ground water."

        The ISRO scientists do not subscribe to the theory that Saraswati is flowing as a subterranean river. "Radioactive tracer studies show that the maximum flow of water is 15 cms per year, too slow to indicate that connection with the Himalayan source is still there," Mr. Sharma said.


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Riddle of the River Sarasvati

Union Minister Jagmohan's efforts to establish a role for the Sarasvati river in the Indus Valley civilization take the shape of a project of excavations, which will begin in Haryana.


in New Delhi

        UNION Minister for Tourism and Cultural Affairs Jagmohan has an unenviable task in hand - that of putting in place a cultural policy for "national reconstruction", which is explained as a cultural renaissance that will enable Indians to be aware of their heritage. One step in this regard is the revival of interest in the Sarasvati river, references to which are found in the Rig Veda.

        Efforts are on to identify the river's course and to ascribe to it a civilisational virtue under the camouflage of promoting domestic and religious tourism. These are based on the assumption that the seasonal Ghaggar river in Haryana is the ancient Sarasvati. The cultural revival as envisaged by Jagmohan will be made possible by excavating the course of the river in parts of Haryana and then developing certain areas there as religious and tourist sites.

        At a seminar organised at Yamunanagar, Haryana, on June 12 by the Sarasvati River Research Centre (Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Sansthan), Jagmohan announced that the Central government, along with the State governments concerned, including the Haryana government, would undertake the excavation of the entire course of the extinct river. A four-member committee will be in charge of this. The committee comprises Baldev Sahai, former Deputy Director, Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad; V.M.K. Puri, a glaciologist who was formerly with the Geological Survey of India, Lucknow; S. Kalyanaraman, a former senior executive of the Asian Development Bank, who is also trained in archaeology; and Madhav Chitle, former Secretary, Ground Water Management, and coordinator for Global Water Partnership. The first phase will involve the digging up of the stretch from Adi Badri in Yamunanagar district to Bhagwanpura in Kurukshetra district to Sirsa (all in Haryana). In the second phase, the excavation and related work will be taken up from Bhagwanpura to Kalibangan in Rajasthan. The Central government is yet to sanction the funds, as the estimates are still in the process of being prepared by the State governments concerned.

        Darshan Jain, president of the Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Sansthan, feels it would be convenient if the first phase is launched before the annual fair in Adi Badri in November to mark the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. As for the river whose origins are sought to be found at Adi Badri, Darshan Jain conceded that all that remained was a trickle from one of the rock formations. However, if fresh water could be filled in the several tanks that date back to the Mahabharata period, which are muddy now, people could take their holy dips in them, he averred.

        The present effort is definitely novel. Jagmohan told Frontline that it was not important whether the Sarasvati was found or not. But in the course of the research on the "mighty river" which has been referred to 50 times in the Rig Veda, a certain consciousness will find its way into the minds of the people, he hopes. The river, the Minister explained, was mentioned along with other rivers, and if these rivers had existed, it was not correct to assume that the Sarasvati had not existed. He said that there was cultural, geological, hydrological and geographical evidence to show that the river was not a mythological desert river. "There is a school of thought - I would not say there is irrefutable evidence - that believes that a sophisticated civilisation flourished on the banks of the Sarasvati," said Jagmohan.

        It is here that the real purpose of the programme comes into the open. The project is evidently a conscious effort to address the "plaguing problem" of the origin of the Aryans, an ideological riddle that was first raised by the Baba Saheb Apte Smarak Samiti (named after the founder of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad) and the Bharatiya Itihasa Sankalan Samiti (which is devoted to the rewriting of history) in the early 1980s. A survey of the lost Sarasvati was planned in 1983 by the former institution.

        Attempts to make the Indus civilisation and the Rig Veda chronologically compatible have been afoot for quite some time now. One major proponent of the Sarasvati's civilisational link is B.B. Lal, former Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). In his latest book The Sarasvati Flows on: The Continuity of Indian Culture (Aryan Books International, New Delhi, 2002), Lal argues that the Rig Vedic Sarasvati and the present-day Sarasvati-Ghaggar

combine, which flows through Haryana and Punjab and dries up near Sirsa, are the same. His other theory refutes the Aryan invasion theory. R.S. Bisht, Director for Excavation at the ASI, also subscribes to a similar theory though he is against the digging of the entire course of the river.

        Bisht, who accompanied Jagmohan to Yamunanagar, asked how it was that so many sites were found located on the banks of the Sarasvati - such as Gaveriwala, Rakhigarhi and Dholavira - if it had not been a perennial river. Bisht contends that the territory of the Rig Vedic Aryans was coterminous with that of the Harappans. Between 2000 B.C. and 1800 B.C., a dry spell heralded the decline of the Indus Valley civilisation, he says. Bisht argues that the Sarasvati died a clinical death and rejuvenating it is impossible; but in the same breath he underscores the Vedic importance of the river. The Nadi Sukta or the river hymn, although a late composition compared to the Rig Veda, enumerated a large number of rivers that ran from the east to the west. Bisht said that it was thought that the Yamuna and the Sutlej flowed into the Sarasvati, an idea that was dear to S.P. Gupta, the historian who proposed the idea that the Indus Valley civilisation be renamed the Indus-Sarasvati civilisation. The Sarasvati is mentioned in the Rig Veda several times.

        Over the years, man-made interventions obstructed the course of the surface water channels. To redeem the lost glory of the river, its easternmost source, in Haryana, was taken as the most sacred one. All the depressions along the course of the river would be symbolically cleaned, Bisht said.

        On the other side is Suraj Bhan, renowned archaeologist and historian. He argues that the Rig Vedic references to the Sarasvati do not always pertain to a particular river. In the early parts, it perhaps means the Harakhvati of Afghanistan and the Sindhu (Indus), he says. There is no evidence even to suggest that either the Sutlej or the Yamuna contributed to the Sarasvati, he contends. R.C. Thakran, Reader in the Department of History, University of Delhi, who is a trained archaeologist and hails from rural Haryana, does not buy the argument that the Sarasvati was a mighty perennial river. Like the Yamuna, most perennial rivers have two important features on their surfaces and sub-surfaces - sand deposition and water reservoirs, the latter on account of the constant flow of water on their floodplains. Despite continuous exploitation of water in the sub-soil of the Yamuna, water reservoirs remain. And this could happen only if the river was a "mighty" one, he said. But in the case of the Sarasvati, sand deposits and water reservoirs were missing, he pointed out. The impact of a river with a bed ranging from 10 to 30 kilometres should be felt along its course and depositions would be naturally available. But nowhere in the State were sand deposits visible either on the sub-soil or the surface soil, he said. The depth of the sand deposits would indicate the impact of the river, said Thakran. Even if they did find sand deposits, it by no means would establish that the river was a perennial one. Sub-soil reservoirs were missing in most parts of Haryana. The water was not fresh. Only in some districts, such as Karnal, Kurukshetra and Ambala, water was of good quality and was freely available (but not to the extent in the Yamuna belt). He said that most tubewells were shallow, and that the majority of borewells were located in areas where canal water had reached. On the theory of the dry period, Thakran said that the region received erratic rainfall from ancient times. Even so, people never made habitations along the banks of rivers, especially mighty rivers, for the simple reason that they posed a hazard, he argued.

        Thakran said rivers per se were not essential for human settlements; what was essential was the supply of water in one form or the other. Ethnographic archaeology or the study of modern lifestyles in the State could explain how people coped with the semi-arid conditions. The prevalence of village ponds widely indicates a certain degree of rainwater harvesting. Wells were also constructed alongside the ponds. The muddy water in the wells would be desilted and stored for later use. Thakran recalls that in his childhood days clearing of ponds was a community activity, which gradually diminished as alternative sources of water, such as canals, appeared.

        According to him, villages located themselves near ponds, not rivers.

Thakran said that in the mid-1980s an ASI-French archaeological mission found that there was no river action in this belt in the Harappan times and even afterwards. Water action observed at local levels revealed surface water run-off or rainwater run-off. On the question of settlements, Thakran said that only a nominal number of them were observed though there was a mild increase in their numbers between the early and mature Harappan phases. After agriculture, pastoralism is the other known source of subsistence for people in the State. Cattle outnumber other domestic animals as they are hardy and require less water and food than others. The practice, which started in the proto-historical times, continues even today. Pastoralists would not have known how to control such a mighty river as the mythological Sarasvati, said Thakran.

        As for remote-sensing and satellite imagery of paleo-channels or past channels of water, Thakran said the images appeared as impressions of flowing water. They begin in the north, move towards Rajasthan and get lost beyond that. There is hardly any evidence to show that these images are that of the Sarasvati. However, he said, remote-sensing did not reveal the antiquity of the images and was not capable of dating or soil morphology. In such a situation, it was difficult to say which period an image belonged to. He said another limitation of remote-sensing was that it was effective only on dry soil. Moisture in the sub-soil tends to absorb the signals and therefore a message cannot be sent to the satellite.

        Thakran is certain that the Ghaggar river made no contribution to the evolution and development of the early and mature Harappan settlements. Nor was the number of settlements found to be substantial. On the contrary, a greater number of early and mature Harappan sites were found in the upland dry areas which had saline water, away from the rivers. A far greater concentration of Harappan settlements was found in the Ghaggar basin and in the basins of other rivers, but these were not in the formative phase but in the terminal phase of the civilisation.

        Hence the river neither was helpful in promoting human activities nor could become a centre of human settlements by the end of the mature Harappan phase. But, according to Jagmohan, there is a preponderance of evidence to show that the Sarasvati was an important river. There were 1,500 settlements along the course of the Sarasvati, though in the late Harappan period, he said. He added that the Central Water Commission, with assistance from its counterparts in the State, had been told to dig two wells in the Adi Badri area; if there was water in them "it would come out", he said.

        The Rig Veda makes references to several rivers, including the Indus. To magnify the importance of one particular river in this context and promote tourism around it only betrays the enthusiasm of the BJP-led government in the case of anything Vedic. But many feel that both the Centre and the Haryana government should concentrate more on getting water for the parched State from Punjab instead of promoting an extinct Sarasvati.

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Bringing Back the Sarasvati

        AHMEDABAD, INDIA, August18, 2002: The government of India, with the assistance of hydrologists, geologists, archaeologists and space scientists, is trying to bring back the Saraswati River, which dried up in Vedic times. The dry bed of the "mythological" river was spotted in satellite photos, five miles wide, coursing from the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea. Some water still flows along this course, but underground. The government's attempt is to tap this water in wells and reservoirs, so that Hindus may once again be blessed by the Saraswati's sacred waters. From:


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Unearthing Lost Saravati Cities

PTI [TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 04, 2003 05:34:22 PM]

        KURUKSHETRA: Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Jagmohan on Tuesday announced that the Centre has launched a scheme of unearthing lost cities, which once existed along the embankments of Saraswati River, and left a number of signposts of the Saraswati-Indus civilization from Adi Badri near Kurukshetra to Dhola Vira in Gujarat.

        Addressing the students of Kurukshetra University at the 25th convocation here he said that "all these signposts are intended to be converted into new centres, all over the country, in which elements of culture, tourism and clean civic life are being synthesised. Kurukshetra is being given a top position in the list of such centres, Jagmohan added.

        He said, "Believe me, a revolution is in the making. Kurukshetra would become not only a world class tourism destination but also a pace-setter for this revolution". Adding that a new life was being injected in Kurukshetra which would make it a symbol of a resurgent and reawakened India.

        Chancellor of the University, Babu Parmanand, conferred the honorary degree of Doctorate of Philosophy (honoris causa) upon Jagmohan in recognition of the exceptionally meritorious services rendered by him to the nation.

        Babu Parmanand also conferred Ph.D upon 121 students and M.Phil on 47 students in different subjects. Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala awarded medals to the outstanding students of the university. 

        NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 26, 2003: It has been reported that to uncover ancient Hindu cultural sites, the Indian government, in collaboration with the Department of Tourism, has started excavating along the legendary Saraswati River from Haryana to Gujarat. The task is an arduous one in a land where the local people are often not aware of the value of their heritage and artifacts from cultural sites are often smuggled out of the country. Tourism Minister Jagmohan says, "We are shortly coming up with an amendment to the existing legislation on protection of antiques and arts which will make illegal trafficking a cognisable offense and give police the powers of seizure." As they forge ahead with the excavation, it is expected that treasures, such as abandoned towns and habitations from the Harappan civilization dating well before 3000 bce, will be revealed. The Tourism Department has grand plans to house the artefacts uncovered in museums to attract tourists. Communities along the dried up river have been encouraged to keep the environment around the heritage sites clean. After Jagmohan addressed an interactive meeting organized by UNESCO about the heritage sites, Indian-born Australian Amareswar Galla commented, "As long as you have poverty, you will have problem with dealing illicit trafficking in cultural property, be it India or elsewhere." Source: 

[This article and more information at]

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