Y.S. Rana,Chandigarh : In reality there are not many around the area who understand the importance of this site. The archaeological site here can be any history enthusiast’s delight. Knowing the importance of the site, Government of Himachal Pradesh has joined hands with the Chandigarh Administration to set up an international geo-park in the State and a natural history museum in Kasauli in district Solan of Himachal Pradesh. The kasauli park would be the second fossil park in Himachal Pradesh. The Suketi Fossil Park in Sirmour near Nahan is the first such park in the state that displays life-size fiberglass models of pre-historic animals whose fossils and skeletons were found there.
Buried under the ravages of time, yet another habitat of extinct mammoth, about 40 km from Chandigarh lay witness to the history of the region. A small village stands guard to the existence of mammoth. Unknown to many in and around Chandigarh, the surrounding region had been habitat of mammoth some 25 million years ago. Experts from Chandigarh Museum and Art Gallery have found a mammoth fossil of five feet tall and one metre width of 25 million years old, at Jagjitnagar near Kasauli in district Solan of Himachal Pradesh. The fossil is kept at the site where it was found and site was named as geo-site.
An official of the Chandigarh Administration, M.M. Sabharwal who is also the director, Chandigarh Museum and Art Gallery told that the modalities have been worked out and scope of work has been assigned to the the Outreach Activity Centre working under the Government Museum and Art Gallery to set up geo-park and a Natural History museum at Kasauli on the lines of National Museum of Natural History at Washington DC.
Mr Sabharwal further disclosed that the project would be completed in two phases. In the first phase, geo-sites at ten selected places of the State including Dharampur, Parwanoon, Baddi, Kasauli and Jagjit Nagar would be developed costing nearly Rs 26 crore. In the second phase, a geo-park will be set up in district Solan.
M M Sharma who is the officer in charge of Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh, and also expert in the field stated that besides setting up geo-parks, natural history museum would also be established at Kasauli during the first phase of the project. It will be established at the two-storey old heritage building spreading over an area of seven acres he added.
The museum will have several sections including history of earth, evolution of life including environment and science section. Fossils of plants and animals will be kept safe at the place itself from where these are found. Such sites will be known as geo-sites. The museum will exhibit nearly 2,300 fossils of animals and plants. It will also showcase evolution of man exhibiting skulls, tools etc of early man. The unique features of the Museum will be in-house conservation laboratory for restoration, preservation, polishing of original rocks, fossils will be done. The museum will have also the facility to display audio visuals and texts on diverse themes, Mr Sharma added.
“Kasauli was certainly a flourishing city since Raj times, it must have enjoyed a status similar to Chandigarh. Hence, all the ten geo-sites will be connected with track and trails so that the site can attract the attention of tourists from far off places besides local one,” said MM Sabharwal. Every geo-site will be provided with geo-heritage walkway, replicas of mammals, nature parks, and small huts as bio-domestic centres for the attraction of tourists.
Luckily, where the locals have shown utter disregard for their glorious past, the government of Himachal Pradesh has stepped in. These sites will be declared of international and national importance. The area will be developed as tourist hub for foreign and local tourists. Nevertheless, time has left its imprint how successful we will, is a question of time. However, a professor of Panjab University said that there were difficulties in maintaining such museums and sites because of shortage of funds and lack of trained staff. PU was still struggling with its upcoming museum he said.
M.M Sabharwal has been appointed the vice-chairman and P.C. Sharma appointed the principal consultant and project director for the ambitious project of the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Department. Technical assistance and know-how to set up these sites will be provided and extended by the Chandigarh experts.