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Ancient Maurya-era structure discovered in Meerut may turn out to be ‘lost’ Ashoka Pillar

The Ashoka Pillar or the Delhi-Meerut pillar which is located in Delhi's ridge area

It’s an ancient structure that remained unnoticed and unexamined for probably several hundreds of years in a region which today is called Meerut but now its discovery has sparked a hope of gaining fresh insight into a crucial part of ancient Indian history dating back to Ashoka the Great and the Mauryan empire.

According to a report in the Times of India, even though a part of the remains has been destroyed due to construction of a power plant, it has been closely examined by the Meerut circle of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The circle which was created just last year, has identified the remains as a brick platform which belongs to the Mauryan period and thus dates back to more than 2,000 years.

Importantly, this platform could hold the vital clue for the “lost” Ashoka Pillar site from the 3rd Century BCE.

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Sharing details of this find, Meerut circle superintending archaeologist Brajsundar Gadnayak said: “A large part of the structure is in the form of a 30m by 35m platform at Vikas Puri . The ancient site is undoubtedly one from the Mauryan period because the bricks are typical of the era.”

The bricks used to make the platform are in a distinct dimension and are unique to the Mauryan period. Their size is 42cm x 26cm x 8cm.

Gadnayak sharing more details told TOI: “We have also found pottery and ceramics belonging to those times.”

An ancient canal route that most likely connects to the Kali river too has been discovered.

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What adds more significance to this find is that it has renewed hope among the historians that this could lead to a pillar that was installed by Emperor Ashoka around 3rd Century BCE, who was the third Emperor of the Mauryan dynasty.

Throwing light on this, historian Dr KK Sharma said: “The Gazetteer (of 1904) mentions the reinstallation of Meerut’s pillar at the Delhi Ridge but we have not been able to find the original site here.”

The Meerut Gazetteer mentioned by him states: “The earliest historical connection which can be made with the (Meerut) district is the erection of an Asoka pillar near Meerut … On the ridge at Dehli (Delhi) now stands a pillar which, according to Shams-i-Siraj, was removed from near the town of Meerut and set up in the Kushak Shikar or hunting palace. The site occupied by the pillar has not been identified.”

Also read: Rare 5th Century AD Sculptures Discovered In Tiruppur, Tamil Nadu

Known as the Delhi-Meerut pillar it was brought to Delhi from Meerut by Firoz Shah and erected at a location in the northern ridge of Delhi, close to his hunting palace, between the Chauburji-Masjid and Hindu Rao Hospital. It was damaged in an explosion during the rule of Farrukshiar (1713–19) and later five broken pieces were shifted to the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta. Brought back in 1866 it was re-erected in 1887.