BHOPAL: It looks like a mound or a small hill, overgrown with grass that cattle roam around munching. Children run up and down the knoll, and one would walk past it without realising that what lies beneath is one of the treasures of India’s past – a Mauryan-era Stupa that may predate the one at Sanchi.
Dating back to the 3rd century BC, this stupa is not a secret but a glaring example of apathy. For over four decades, it has been left looking like an unkempt hill.
Situated in Deorkothar, also known as Deur Kothar village of Rewa district, around 500km from Sanchi Stupa, it was discovered in 1982 by archaeologist Dr Phani Kanta Mishra, who was then with ASI Bhopal. “This stupa predates Sanchi stupa, going by Brahmi inscriptions and pillar remains, and it is the centre point between Sarnath and Sanchi”, Mishra told TOI.
It pains Dr Mishra, 66, who retired as a regional director of ASI eastern region, as his dream of seeing the Deorkothar stupa restored to its glory remains unfulfilled. and He is now director of the heritage cell at Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology in Kolkata.
The site is rich in history – there are four monasteries, 33 stupas and 63 rock shelters; northern black polished ware from the Mauryan period have been dug up here, and there is an ancient pathway and a Mauryan Age pillar with an inscription in Brahmi. The main stupa here is made of brick and is over 9m high. This and three other brick stupas form the nuclei of the monastic centre. Other stupas are made of rock.
‘Proposal for conservation of site is being prepared’
Excavations were last carried out here in 1999-2000, and very important archaeological finds were discovered, but the report is still pending. Since then, no major conservation effort has been taken.
The ASI-Jabalpur circle has posted a lone guard here. And that’s all. “We have not seen any work being done there. A local villager has been deployed as a guard,” Deur panchayat secretary Ram Charan Yadav told TOI.
Distressed by the neglect, Dr Mishra told TOI, “The Government of India should take up its conservation as a project to ensure consolidated preservation. Its excavation report should be published. I have been writing to ASI for four years, seeking permission to write the report but to no avail.”
TOI contacted superintending archaeologist with ASI’s Jabalpur circle, Dr Shiva Kant Bajpayee, on the issue and he said that there is a project on the cards. “A proposal for conservation of the site is being prepared and we are hopeful of starting conservation works soon,” he said.

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