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Archaeology Publication

SANGHOL - A General History

InArchCenter ID:- IACBN0021


Sanghol is an ancient site of Harappan culture and is being maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. Locally known as Ucha Pind, is located in the tahsil Khamanon, district Fatehgarh Sahib, Punjab. It lies at a distance of 40 km of the west of Chandigarh on Chandigarh-Ludhiana road and is at a distance of 32 km from Ropar. According to the local tradition, Sanghol was formerly known as ‘Sangaladvipa’, and the folk tale of Rup Basant was associated with it like Ropar. The present name might have been derived from Sanghapura, a name which may have been given for its being a stronghold of Buddhist congregation or Sangha. A terracotta clay sealing with Gupta Brahmi legend discovered from Sanghol mentions the name ‘Nandipurasya’ and carries a representation of a bull. The river Sutlej once flowing by the side of the village but now it has shifted to a distance of about 10 km. The results of excavation and explorations of this site have provided evidence of continued habitation at this site from 2000 BCE to modern times with short breaks in between.

Sanghol was an important town on an ancient trade route, which served as a meeting place for traders, pilgrims, artists, and other people from Madhyadesa and Gandhara during the Kushaṇa period. Standing on the main Uttarapatha, Sanghol connected Taxila with Mathura, Kausambi, Sarnath, Pataliputra, and Chandraketugarh. The materials from other levels, such as potteries, human figurines, terra-cotta gamesman beads of precious and stones all are displayed and also the stucco head of Gandhara School is on display. All the sculptures made of red-spotted sandstone which is available in the Mathura region and belong to the Mathura school of art during the Kushaṇa period. The art of Sanghol is mainly the art of salabhanjikas, surasundaris, etc.

Excavation at Sanghol:-

Sanghol, a small village, on top of a mound, is popularly known as Uchcha Pind. Located on Chandigarh-Ludhiana highway, 40 km from Chandigarh, spread over an area of 20 km. The village, with historical linkages with Harappan civilization, is of immense archaeological significance in the Indian and international context. A large number of relics belonging to Harappan civilization (1720 BC - 1300 BC) to 6th century AD, some of which are preserved in the Sanghol Museum, were found here during the excavations carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India and it is suspected that once the river Sutlej flowed by the site of the village but of late is has shifted away by about 10km. The site of Sanghol was brought to the notice of the late Shri. M.S. Vats, former Director-General of Archaeological Survey of India. Sanghol has been excavated for nearly two decades between 1968 and 1987 by various excavators, including S.S. Talwar, R.S. Bisht, G.B. Sharma, K.K. Rishi and Kuldip Singh Siddhu on behalf of the Punjab Government; and by C. Margabandhu of the Archaeological Survey of India. It was for the first time occupied by the people of the Harappan Civilization around by the people of the followed by the people using Painted Grey Ware in the first half of the first millennium B.C. The next habitation at the site was that of the Black Slipped Ware using people who have bracketed the site between Cicra 700 B.C. and 200 B.C. During the Parthian king Gondopharnese, in the first century A.D., Sanghol was probably important of the kingdom.

A variety of coins, seals, and sealing of the Kushana rulers bearing the inscription in Kharoshti and Brahmi script, have been discovered at this site in large numbers. This would clearly indicate that Sanghol was the most prosperous town during the Kushana period. The stupa along with a monastery was established during this period. In the Gupta times, i.e. the 4th and 5th centuries, Sanghol was definitely the seat of a Governor or a feudatory king as may be inferred from a large number of seals with the legend “Sri Maharaja Kapila Niyuktas-yadhikarnasya” written in Gupta script. A large number of seal and sealing bearing figures nor symbols of various Hindu gods like Vishnu and Siva and some terracotta figurines of Mahishasurmardini have been found at this site. One gold coin of Kidar Kushana, a silver coin of Samata Deva and Late Kushana’s, and a few coins of Balban were also discovered. The stupa mound, from which the Kushana sculpture has been recovered, is about 2.35m high. So far 51 trenches, each measuring 6m x 6m, have been excavated the architecture plan of the stupa is like the Dharmachakra or spoked wheel.


View from the entrance Buddhist Stupa site at Sanghol

There is a 17m.sq. The platform for the Pradakshina or circumambulation of the stupa raised at a height. It surrounded the stupa. The platform was neatly plastered with chunam from outside. The monastery has, however, not been fully excavated, only some walls and rooms have been unearthed. It will require at least five years of hard and patient work at the site to expose the remains of the monastery. The major discovery at the site consists of 117 sculpture of the Khushana period. These belong to the Mathura School of Indian art. The sculpture includes 4 corner pillars, 58 upright pillars, 7 double-sided pillars, 35 crossbars, and 13 coping stones. In the adjoining area, some coins of the early Kushana rulers Soter Megas and Vima Kadphises were found. There also exist two other railing pillars presenting a picture of a damsel standing under a champaka tree, and a parrot perching on her shoulder. At Mathura, the correspondent of this scene can be also witnessed.

The Stupa at Sanghol:-

One of the most distinguishing features of early Buddhist architecture is the STUPA. Buddha himself had ordained that stupa should be erected over his corporeal relics on the cross-roads. In India a vast number of stupas among which a few go back to a very early period. The great emperor Ashoka is credited to have erected 84000 stupas in different parts of his empire. One such great stupa has recently been brought to light at Sanghol, Dist. Ludhiana, and Punjab. The Buddhist Stupa at Sanghol was first constructed in the 3rd century B.C. and it was probably the work of great emperor Ashoka.

In the capital, there were about ten monasteries, but they were disabled and the Brethren were very few. About three li to the south-east of the capital was an Ashoka tope about 200 ft. high and beside it were traces of spots on which the four past Buddha has sat and walked up and down. The excavation has revealed only the base of the stupa, for the simple reason that the superstructure was already destroyed by vandalism of man and nature. As it is, the base of the stupa resembles a Dharamachkra, an important Buddhist symbol. The stupa contained the relics of a Buddhist personality which is concluded from the bone relics deposited in a soapstone casket bearing Kharoshthi inscription on its lid. Few votive stupas were also found near the main stupa. A rich treasure of.117 beautifully and finely carved sculptures, which includes 69 pillars, 35 crossbars figures, and figurines of Yakshis and Salabhanjikas of the typical Mathura school of Kushana art.


Buddhist Stupa site at Sanghol


Site two is located near the main road which leads towards Ludhiana. Archeologists have discovered stupas with monastic complex on this site. The archeologist dates this site between 2nd and 3rd century A.D. Both of these Buddhist sites were built during the Kushana period.


Buddhist Stupa site at Sanghol

The Kushana Art - Sculptures:-

The recent discovery of Mathura sculptured at Sanghol Museum, added a new chapter in the history of Mathura art. A large collection of railing pillars, cross-bars, and coping stones have been unearthed by Shri. G.B.Sharma and his colleagues who are the excavators of the site of Sanghol. These were 1st located in a trench by Shri Yog Raj a young surveyor in the Archeological Department. This epoch-making discovery has placed the site of Sanghol prominently on the map of Mathura art. These sculptures belong to the railing which once surrounded the stupa on a high platform. Charming heavenly females, commonly known as salabhanjikas, yakshis, vrishikas, etc., and monks, royal devotes, couples, and others engaged in various sports, pastimes, and devotional activities from the themes of portrayal on the front of these rails- posts.

The site yielded a large number of stone sculptures, including images, bas relief, railing pillars, small votive stupas of stone, and umbrellas. The town appears to have been a stronghold of Hinduism as several images of stone, metal, and terracotta of Hinduism deities were recovered. A beautiful nude Salabhanjika standing on a crouching dwarf was reported from this site.

The major discovery from the site was a hoard of 177 pieces of sculptures of the Kushana period. These are in the form of 69 pillars, 13 coping stones, and 35 crossbars, It is for the first that such a large hoard of sculptures belonging to Mathura school of Indian art lying in stake has been discovered. The theme of these pillars is female figures in the forms of women and tree motif or depiction of the concept of Shalabharijikas, in various from, the most conspicuous being a Dohada scene.

The National Museum, New Delhi received sixty-four stone sculptured for exhibition in its premise. It includes two uprights and four cross-bars already treated by the Archeological Survey of India. However, the remaining 58 stone sculptures had thick incrustation on them which were hiding most of the details of these works of art.

Fig-01, Sadya –Snata ( Lady drying her hair) Sanghol Museum

Fig-02 , Madhu-Pana, Sanghol Museum

Fig-03, Lady putting her necklace, Sanghol Museum.

Bibliography ­ :-

  • Kushana sculptures from Sanghol, ed. by S.P. Gupta.

  • Archaeological site museum, Sanghol.

  • Ardhendu Rey : Study of early Historic Sanghol, Chitrolekha International Magazine on Art and Design, (ISSN 223-4822), Vol. 6, No. 1, 2016 Kolkata, India.


About the writer:-

I'm Srushti Jalindra Karande. I have completed my master’s degree in Ancient Indian Culture and Archaeology from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. While I have a comprehensive historical background. My emphasis is on the fields like archival - conservation and study, Museum management, and Art.
Currently, I'm working on research papers/articles based on ancient architecture.


To Know more about Sanghol, please fill our COD form or read the previous article: A Study Of The Sanghol Sculptures With Reference To The Female Figures

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