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Archaeologist Mr.P.P.Pandya: A scholarly Personality

A shining star of the Archaeology of Saurashtra : P.P.Pandya Hariprasad G. Shashtri


The Headland of Saurashtra is famous for its long coast, ancient culture and innumerable epics. Since the ancient period, it has been a centre for so many successive civilizations, cultures and unique life styles. The half-moon shaped land protrudes in the Arabian Sea which gives the map of India a distinct identity. Some western scholars felt this land cul-de-sac or worthless from the cultural point of view. But it has been established from the researches carried out since 1840 that the land of Saurashtra ( also famous as Kathiyawar) has sheltered variety of life-styles, religious beliefs and commercial traditions. It became an origin of number of castes and communities. Remnants of the historical periods right from the early stone age to Maratha rule are spread in many parts of Saurashtra. It is a mine of remnants in view of Archaeology. After the explorations done by colonel Tod, the explorations remained centered around Junagadh and its surrounding area during the second half of 19th Century. Though the scattered explorations and excavations were done by Bhagwanlal Indraji, Vallabhji Haridatt Acharya, Girijashanker Acharya, Father Herace, Dr. Sankaliya, M.N.Deshpande, M.G. Dixit and Madho Swaroop Vatsa, due evaluation and deep study of cultural history of Saurashtra was done by an Archaeologist named Mr. P.P. Pandya. It is lamentable that Mr. P.P. Pandya has not been given due credit even after his enormous contribution. Dr. Sankaliya has given his biography the title- “Born for Archaeology”. If the biography of Mr. P. P. Pandya is to be written, its title can’t be other than “Made for Archaeology”, as he was self made in the field of archaeology and had conquered the highest peaks in the science of archaeology. Mr. Pandya was born on 8th November 1920 at Kotda-sangani village. His family was prominent at that time as his father Mr. Premshanker Pandya was the Chief Engineer of the then Princely State. He completed his primary education at Kotda Sangani. Continued the secondary education at Jetpur Secondary School, achieved Bachelor’s degree in Arts (B.A.) from Dharmendrasinhji College, Rajkot and Master’s degree (M.A.) from B.J. College, Ahmedabad. He started his journey on the path of History of Ancient India but the freedom moment was accelerating in 1940. Mr. P.P.Pandya also participated the Quit-India movement. He also took part in other freedom movements thereafter, after going through the training in Freedom Movement at Mumbai. He had started his career from Museum at Jamnagar and was appointed as the Superintendent in Archaeology & Museum Department at Rajkot. During this period, he came into contact with Mr. M.N.Deshpande, the erstwhile Superintendent of Central Archaeological Department (A.S.I.) and taken up the exploration of North Saurashtra. Afterwards, he had travelled on foot and had found out o many Harappan, Post-Harappan, and Early Historic colonies in Sorath & Halar regions. Moda, Vasai Bed, Lakha baval etc. were important colonies among 33 colonies found out by him. Early Historic Pottery called “Vasai ware” was found out on excavation at Vasai site. Mr. P. P. Pandya took up a small scale excavation at Bed, Moda and Lakha Baval also and gathered important archaeological data. The noticiable contribution of Mr. Pandya pertains to Harappan colonies. For finding out the places of Sindhu civilization in India, explorations in Saurashtra were taken up by the Central Archaeological Department. A colony near Rangpur village near Limbdi Town was found out during these explorations. The evidences of belonging this colony to Harappan era were initially gathered by Dr. Madho Swaroop after the excavation and Dr. Gurye had taken up the excavation thereafter. Dr. M.G.Dixit of Deccan college re-excavated the site and concluded that this colony was post-harappan. Mr. P.P. Pandya was present when Dr. S.R. Rao took up the excavation on trial base in 1955. He carried out the explorations in other parts of Saurashtra also and found out so many Harappan and Late Harappan colonies, which were counting more than 100 in 1956. From the excavations at Atkot, Rozdi(Srinathgadh), Khakhrabela, Hajnali, Prabhas Patan, Pithadiya, Moti Dharai (Bhavnagar) etc. places which were among these colonies, periodization of Harappan civilization was determined in two terms :


Among all these famous scholars, the contribution given in the field of Archaeology of Saurashtra by Shri P.P. Pandya even within the limitation of this short left-span, has availed him a very high place as a shining state in the field of archaeology of Saurashtra renounced as P.P. Pandya in the field of archaeology of Saurashtra, it had become a matter of research what ‘P.P.’ stood for in the name of this young man. The full form of P.P. Pandya was Purushottam Premshanker Pandya. Born in Audichya Brahmin family at Kotda Sangani village, he had achieved the Bachelor’s in Arts after completing the college study at Bhavnagar & Rajkot. Meanwhile, he had shaped his life by taking achive part in the movements for democracy & freedom and also in other constructive activities.


Pd I Harappan, 2400 B.C. which can be considered equivalent to Rangpur PD-II


Pd II Late Harappan, which can be considered equivalent to Rangpur IIB, II C(1500 B.C.)


This periodization was accepted on the bases of evidences gathered after excavation at Rozdi. Mr. Pandya felt the Pottery found in 1950 from Harappan colonies different from that of Sindhu civilization as it was painted in chocolate color over green color. But afterwards, from the excavation during 1982, Dr. Powshel named it as “Sorath Harappan” which was a local form of Sindhu civilization. Matured Sindhu civilization found in Rangpur II A and Lothal-1, was found more in Kachchh, whose important city is Dholaveera, Khadir. This transpires that Mr. P. P. Pandya had done the pioneering work. His another valuable contribution was regarding the places of Late Stone age. Dr.Sankaliya had done important research on Late Stone age civilization by carrying out the excavation at Langhanaj colony in Mehsana District. However, according to the time line, there were three phases like Initial stone age, Middle stone age, and late stone age in Saurashtra. Tools of these phases were found from Atkot (Bhadar river) and Rozdi. Mr. Pandya had thus offered valuable contribution by clearing the picture of stone age. He had passed through many ups and downs during his career as an Archaeologist. Efforts were also made to create barriers in his works. However, he kept patience and continued his work firmly. It is felt that an injustice is done with such a scholar and pioneer-like archaeologist and he has not been given due credit which he deserved for his profound work. Mr. P.P. Pandya spent up his whole life in wondering for archeological explorations. His health deteriorated and he died untimely at very young age of 39 years in 1960. Not only Gujarat but entire country lost a scholarly archaeologist of top category due to his demise. His activities in excavations had started from Dr. Sankaliya’s excavations at Navdatoli-Maheshwar, which he had joined as a trainee. His activities ended with the excavation at Rozdi. Thus, he constantly worked in the field for 20 years and enriched the archaeologcal researches of Saurashtra.


Today, his sons namely, Piyush Pandya, Manish Pandya, Hitesh Pandya and Mr. Paresh Pandya are taking much pain to carry on his uncompleted work further by founding Shri Jayabahen Foundation and thereby doing praiseworthy activities. The core purpose of the foundation is the preservation of the monuments found out by Mr. P.P.Pandya. Mr. Pandya had found out the Bauddha (Buddha) caves of 4th century in 1958. These caves are situated at Khambhalida village of Gondal Taluka in Rajkot District of Gujarat (India). Maintenance of these caves with sculptures is most necessary. On representation of this crucial matter before the Government by Shri Jayabahen Foundation, Government has sanctioned the fund of Rupees Four Crores and Thirteen lacs for the development of this place with caves surrounded by the beautiful natural sceneries as a place for tourism. The work for its development is going to be started soon. If the maintenance of ancient monuments are done by the efforts of the foundation, it will be an appreciable work. Efforts for connecting the people with the monuments is worth pondering.