The Panjab University occupies a place of pride in the pursuance and advancement of Indological studies from the very beginning. In the last decades of the 19th century, Sir M. Aurel Stein, the renowned archaeologist and Sanskritist, held the post of Professor in this University at Lahore. He was followed by equally eminent scholars like A. C. Woolner and Lakshman Sarup in the University Department of Oriental Studies known as Oriental College at that time. Prof. Woolner later on became the Vice-Chancellor of this august University. Under the able stewardship of these stalwarts were produced many eminent scholars like Dr. Vishva Bandhu, Dr. Bahadur Chand Chhabra and Prof. Jagannath Agrawal to name a few.
The unfortunate partition of India in 1947 served a severe set-back to the Panjab University and this dismembered body of higher education was scattered with its Departments at Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Delhi, Shimla and Solan. It regained its lost glory very quickly and established itself in the newly constructed capital of the Indian Punjab at Chandigarh. Since then there has been no looking back. Amongst several disciplines taught at the University, the Indic studies received due recognition and an independent Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology was established in 1961. It was headed by Dr. Budha Prakash and had Prof. Jagannath Agrawal, Dr. S. N. Chopra and Dr. Amita Ray on its faculty. Since then the Department has had Prof. B. Ch. Chhabra, Dr. Suraj Bhan, Dr. R. Dasgupta, Prof. V. C. Pandey, Prof. Y. D. Sharma, Prof. G. C. Mohapatra, Prof. S.N. Chopra, Dr. S. Kumar, Dr. S. Pandey and Prof. Devendra Handa on its faculty from time to time. At present the Department faculty comprises of Prof. Ashvini Agrawal, Dr. N.K. Ojha, Dr. Suchi Dayal, Dr Renu Thakur and Dr. Paru Bal Sidhu.
The Department provides M.A. degree in Ancient Indian History, Culture & Archaeology with 40 students each in M.A. previous and final year. The subjects taught at M.A. level include specialized study of archaeology, epigraphy and numismatics, social, political and economic institutions, Greater India besides papers on art and architecture, political and religious history, historical geography and history of literature. Post graduate and post doctoral research facilities are available and a large number of its students have been awarded Ph.D. degrees with more than a dozen research scholars pursuing their research for Ph.D. degree under the guidance of various faculty members.
The archaeological explorations and excavations form an integral part of the Department's activities from the very beginning. Amongst various sites excavated by the Department mention may be made of Sugh (ancient Srughna) near Jagadhari in Haryana, Mitathal in Dist. Hissar (Haryana), Chandigarh, Singh Bhagwantpur (Dist. Rupnagar), Moharana (Dist. Sangrur) and Pallanpur (Dist. Rupnagar) in Punjab. Each of these excavations has yielded important results and enriched the Department's collection of pottery, coins, seals and sealings, terracottas, sculptures etc. A number of new sites have been explored by the faculty and staff of the Department. Particular mention may be made of the discovery of a big tank of Kushana period at Satauj (Dist. Sangrur) by Devendra Handa, explorations in Sirmaur Dist. By Lalman, Sr. Scientific Asst. in the Department, and an early medieval Siva temple at Morni ka Tal in Haryana by Ashvini Agrawal and Devendra Handa, survey of Kangra District and work on Vaidyanatha Temple, Baijnath (Himachal Pradesh) by Ashvini Agrawal, survey and study of the Rock-cut complex at Masrur, Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh by Dr. N.K. Ojha and Prof. Ashvini Agrawal.
The Department has organised academic seminars from time to time besides inviting distinguished scholars to deliver special lectures. An ICHR sponsored seminar on Socio-Cultural History of India in the 11th & 12th centuries A.D. was organised in 1980 by Prof. V.C. Pandey, the VIIth session of the Indian History and Culture Society was hosted in March 1984 under the Chairmanship of Prof. S. N. Chopra, a seminar on the sources and history of ancient Punjab was organised by Dr. A. Agrawal in collaboration with the Institute of Punjab Studies and the Department of History in February, 1995. It was chaired by Prof. B.N. Mukherjee and Prof. J. S. Grewal. A National Seminar on 'Working Women in Ancient India' was organised in March 1996, the topic being highlighted for the first time by the seminar director Ashvini Agrawal. A National Seminar on Search for Vedic Harappan Relationship New Perspectives , sponsored by the ICHR & the UGC, was organised in March 2002. Prof. Ashvini Agrawal also organised a National colloquium on Worshipping Goddess Mythology, Form & Ritual in April 2002, for Shri Mata Mansa Devi Shrine Board of the Govt. of Haryana.
The Department has already published the proceedings of the seminar on Working Women in Ancient India in a book form comprising 22 articles (copies can be obtained from the Department on payment), and the proceedings of the seminars on Vedic Harappan Relationship and Worshipping Goddess are being edited and printed.
Amongst the distinguished scholars who have delivered lectures in the Department from time to time are Prof. K. D. Bajpai, Dr. P. L. Gupta, Prof. O.P. Bharadwaj, Prof. Lallanji Gopal, Prof. M. K. Dhavalikar, Dr. I.K. Sarma and Dr. Eva Alexandra Uchmany. In a series of annual lectures in the memory of Late Professor Jagannath Agrawal, started in 1994, eminent scholars like Prof. Ajay Mitra Shastri (Nagpur), Prof. V. S. Pathak (Gorakhpur), Prof. B.N. Mukherjee (Calcutta), Prof. V.C. Srivastava (Shimla), Prof. B.P. Sinha (Patna) and Prof. O.P. Bharadwaj (Panchkula) have delivered lectures from time to time on important topics. The Department has started a new series of annual lectures in the memory of the great Indologist late Professor Lakshman Sarup from the session 2003-04. Earlier, in 1993 Dr. S.R. Rao, former Director, Institute of Oceanography, Goa spoke on the discovery of submerged Dwarka and the Indus site of Lothal. In continuation of the Department's tradition, an endeavour for the furtherance of the cause of Indological studies for a better future of our society is always our first priority. We hope to maintain the high standards of teaching and research to achieve new heights.
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