The Directorate of Archaeology and Museums in Karnataka is the oldest among the departments of Archaeology in Indian states. Though the department was established in January, 1885, by the erstwhile princely Mysore State, by appointing Mr. B Lewis Rice as Director, the archaeological studies had started much earlier. The first publication of the state is related to epigraphs of the region published in 1879 under the title Mysore Inscriptions. Mr. B Lewis Rice devoted himself primarily to epigraphical studies. He published 9000 inscriptions collected from eight districts of the princely state of Mysore and the province of Coorg. They were published in 12 volumes under the title Epigraphia Carnatica.
Sri R. Narasimhachar
succeeded Mr. B Lewis Rice as Director of Archaeology who collected and published 4000 inscriptions. His well known publications are Epigraphia Carnatica, Volume II, Inscriptions of Sravanabelagola, monographs on the Keshava Temple at Somanathapura, the Keshava Temple at Belur and the Lakshmidevi Temple at Dodda Gaddavalli under the Mysore Archaeological Series termed Architecture and Sculpture in Mysore. He also reported briefly on a large number of monuments in the annual reports of the directorate.
He was succeeded by Sri R Shama Sastri
as director. He brought out the translations of Arthasatra of Kautilya both in English and Kannada. Apart from this, he edited and published The Kanthirava Narasaraja Vijayam of Govinda Vaidya. During his service the survey of the monuments of erstwhile Mysore state became the prime activity of the department. He published the description of the monuments in the annual reports of the department known as Mysore Archaeological Reports (MAR). These reports became models of archaeological scholarship and studies in future.
Dr. M.H. Krishna
became the Director in 1928. He continued the survey of monuments in Mysore state and the report on the monuments and the illustrations along with the ground plan used to be included in the annual report till his retirement. These reports were appreciated all over the world for their quality and contents. Dr. M H Krishna retired from service in 1947, but the annual reports continued to be published with vigor. Dr. Krishna’s contributions were not confined only to the survey of the ancient monuments but extended to Numismatics, Epigraphy, Explorations and Excavations of ancient cities like Chandravalli and Brahmagiri. The excavations at these places proved the successive occupation of the region from the Neolithic period to that of the early historical period. i.e., the Satavahana. The efforts of Dr Krishna started a new era in the explorations and excavations of Karnataka archaeological sites. His contribution to the field of publishing of manuscripts was also commendable. He brought to light manuscripts like Hyder Nama, Sukti Sudharnava, Mysuru Samsthanada Doregala Kaifiyattu and published a number of books in Kannada.
Sri L. Narasimhachar, (1947-1951), Sri. Narayana Iyengar, (1951-1954) and Prof. K.A. Neelakantashastry, (1954-1956), the successors of Dr. M H Krishna in that order, more or less confined their activities to the preparation and publication of the MAR and the Epigraphia Carnatica.
Prof. K.A. Neelakantashastry’s successor was Dr. M. Sheshadri,
(1956-1972) who was dedicated to archaeological studies and excavated two important archaeological sites, namely, Jadigenahalli of the then Bangalore district and T. Narasipura in the Mysore district. Jadigenahalli, a megalithic site, contributed much to understanding of the cultural context of the region. The Neolithic site excavated in the Cauvery valley at T. Narasipura opened a new chapter in understanding the spread and succession of the Neolithic culture in southern Karnataka. It provided much needed classification of the Neolithic culture and the dating of this site became the bench mark of South Indian Neolithic studies.
Dr. M. S. Nagarajarao
(1972-84 and 1987-90) also continued the archaeological studies in the directorate and excavated the famous Neolithic sites at Halluru in Dharwad district, Tekkalakota and Sanganakallu and the megalithic sites at Tadakanahalli and Komaranahalli. The Halluru excavations provided the earliest date for the use of iron in South India. His HAMPI RESURRECTION PROJECT not only brought laurels to him but highlighted the monuments at Hampi to the world at large which ultimately led to conferment of the world heritage status to the site. During his tenure he published a brief report on the Progress of Archaeology in Karnataka 1956-1972 in place of the earlier MAR reports. Among the publications of the directorate during his tenure the most notable are the first two reports, covering the period 1979 to 1984, titled Vijayanagara –Progress of Research.
The tenure of Dr. A. Sundara, is chiefly noted for the Centenary Celebrations of the Directorate to mark which he organized an international seminar on the progress of archaeology in India with special reference to Karnataka. These papers were subsequently published by the directorate. During the period of Dr. D.V. Devaraj (1990-91 and 1992-97) also the same tempo of the directorate continued on the lines of his predecessor.
Sri Chiranjeev Singh, I.A.S.,
contributed immensely to the growth of the Directorate through his efforts at providing required funds both for the establishment and archaeological activities.
Sri M. L. Shivashankar (1997-1999), Dr. M. V. Krishnappa (1991- 2002), Sri K.R. Ramakrishna (2002- 2004) and Sri H.S. Rathnakar (2006-.2007) served as directors and carried out the functions of the department with the established bench mark of the directorate.
Dr. R. Gopal
, functioned as director in charge for a short period from 24.11.2004 to 29.5.2006. He became full time director from 9.3.2007. He brought the directorate office from Hospet back to Mysore. After a short period the office of the Directorate was shifted to the new building at the Dasara Exhibition Ground. He continued the prestigious Excavations at Talakadu in Mysore district. He has been giving much importance to the conservation of monuments and archaeological sites.
An important initiative of his concerns the organization of a series of seminars concerning the Archaeology, History and Culture of the districts of Karnataka. So far seventeen seminars have been held of which papers presented at fifteen seminars have been published. In addition to this three international seminars have been held on themes like Life and Achievements of Tipu Sultan, Life and Achievements of Sri Krishnadevaraya and Jainism through the Ages _ a Historical Perspective. Apart from these publications he has brought out a few books like Hampi Wonder That Was, Karnataka A Garden of Architecture both in Kannada and English and Nadahabba Mysuru Dasara (in Kannada).
The papers presented in the first two seminars have been published. To create awareness among the public about the importance of archaeological sites and monuments in Karnataka state he has been organizing art camps for children and traditional artists of the state. He has also endeavoured to strengthen the establishment of the directorate with a view to undertake on a regular and continuing basis the substantive activities of the directorate.
Basically a research oriented department, it undertakes research in the fields of Archaeology, History and Culture. It undertakes the conservation of antiquities and art objects in the museums and use them to impart non-formal education to the students and the general public.
Following are the main functions of the Department
- Exploration of the antiquities, monuments and archaeological sites etc.
- Excavation of archaeological sites.
- Conservation of Ancient and Historical Monuments and Sites
- Survey of Epigraphs (Inscriptions, Copper plates etc.)
- Study of Coins
- Establishment and maintenance of Museums
- Publication of Research Works
- Organization of Educational and Cultural activities in the Museums
- Implementation of Antiquities and Art Treasure Act 1972
I. Conservation of monuments under XIII Finance Commission Grants
The State of Karnataka is dotted with ancient monuments in abundance besides archaeological remains and sites that demanded conservation. The powerful dynasties who ruled Karnataka for centuries have left several monuments as evidence for posterity. The popular dynasties among these were the Kadambas, the Gangas, the Chalukyas, the Rastrakutas, the Hoysalas, rulers of Vijayanagar, the Wodeyars of Mysore, and several Muslim dynasties viz., Bahamanis, Adilshahis, Baridshahis etc., There are nearly 25,000 to 30,000 unsung monuments and 752 protected monuments in the State.
It is vitally important to ensure standard methods and procedures while implementing preservation and conservation programmes concerning archaeological monuments and artifacts. Selection of monuments for conservation purposes is therefore done through a Technical Advisory Committee chaired by the Secretary of the concerned Secretariat Department. Not only the environment surrounding the monuments but also the prescribed procedure and the norms followed are carefully weighed before any decision is made to take up conservation work of a monument. The suggestions given by technical experts, after thoroughly inspecting the monuments in question, are incorporated in the plan of conservation adopted.
Not only the scientific and aesthetic aspects receive attention. The conservation programmes are being carried out under the Karnataka Transparency Act and Rules through reputed contractors with sufficient experience in the field.
The preservation and conservation of monuments, sites and remains require huge financial outlays year after year. Under the 12th plan the directorate was provided with a `. 2250 lakh grant for its conservation activities by the Government of India alone. ` 8000 lakh has been proposed under the 13th plan for the directorate which will be spread over a period of 4 years from 2011-12 to 2014-15. Under this project about 125 monuments have been chosen for conservation. These will be further supplemented by appropriate state government grants.
The grant provided for this purpose for the financial years 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09, 2011-12 is amounting to `. 1125.00 lakh.
II. Conservation and Development of Monuments under the State Grants
TThe Directorate of Archaeology and Museums is carrying out conservation and preservation of monuments after formulating an Action Plan for each financial year under the grants provided for this purpose by the Government. The grant earmarked for the conservation of 29 monuments is ` 283.40 lakh for the current year 2008-09.
III. Government-Private-Public Partnership for the conservation of monuments.
This is an unique initiative. Interested private organizations are involved with the active participation of the local public in the conservation of monuments. Commencing from 2002-03 this department has tied up with Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Dharmothana Trust for the conservation of select monuments. This venture is continuing successfully. The expenditure will be borne in the ratio of 40:40:20 (Government: Private: Public). The INTACH, Karnataka was also involved in the beautification and landscaping of the environs of several monuments.
IV. Participation of Private organizations and persons in the conservation of Monuments.
Even private persons who are interested to undertake the conservation of monuments are allowed to take up this venture after observing certain formalities. The NRIs are also eligible for this purpose. An NRI Philanthropist from U.S.A. came forward to take up the conservation of Sri Gunjanarasimhaswamy temple at T.Narasipur, Mysore District with the assistance of expert conservationists of the directorate. An expenditure of `.250 lakh was incurred on this of remarkable conservation and restoration project. The Hampi foundation has also taken up the conservation of the Chandramouleshwara temple of Vijayanagara period at Anegondi in Koppal District. The work is about to be completed. The entire expenditure, which exceeds Rs. 100.00 lakh, will be borne by them. .
V. Establishment of Karnataka Samskrithi Samrakshana Society.
The Government of Karnataka has constituted the “Karnataka Samskrithi Samrakshana Society” for the conservation and renovation of ancient monuments since 2006.