Archaeological Survey of India, Ranchi Circle is newly created of A.S.I. which have been bifurcated from Patna Circle in 2003. Before creation of Ranchi Circle, it was a Sub-Circle under Patna Circle and the office of Conservation Assistant was estabilished at H.I. - 31, Harmu Housing Colony, Harmu, Ranchi.


The Ranchi Circle of Archaeological Survey of India has been conducted scientific clearance work as well as explorations in the state of Jharkhand since its creation to till now. The ancient site of Benisagar and Khekparta were taken up for scientific clearance work and the brief summary is given below.

(I) Scientific Clearance Work (2003-11) at Benisagar, Dist. - West Singhbhum

Benisagar (Longitude 850 53’ 39’’ E., Latitude 210 59’ 01’’ N.) is situated in the picturesque valley of Majhgaon Block of West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. It is located at a distance of about 85 km south of Chaibasa, the district headquarter of West Singhbhum. The name of the village Benisagar or Benusagar derived from a tank locally known as Benisagar is said to have been excavated by local legendry ruler Raja Benu, son of the Raja of Kisanagarh. The historicity of Raja Benu is still unknown. Presently the area is inhabited by ‘Ho’ tribes.

The tank of Benisagar roughly covers an area of about 500 x 500 mtrs. There is an island not exactly in the centre of the tank for which the approach is provided from the south side. Some brick structures are noticed on the island. Some brick mounds are also visible towards eastern embankment and south-eastern side of the tank. The area south-east of the tank is referred as ‘Devasthana’ where the sculptures of Ganesha, Hanuman, Agni, Mahisasurmardini Durga, Bhairava, Yamuna and Lakulisha along with fragments of door-jambs, door-lintels and several architectural members are kept.

The archaeological remains of Benisagar were first noticed by Col. Tickell during 1840. Again in 1875 AD., J.D. Beglar visited this site and published a report about these beautiful sculptures. K.C. Panigrahi also published a paper in J.B.R.S. in 1956 about the archaeological remains of Benisagar. Keeping in the view of the archaeological importance of the site, the Central Government declared it as Protected Site/Monument of National Importance in 1938 – 39.

Archaeological investigation restarted at Benisagar from 2006 onwards by carrying out scientific clearance work of entire site, in phase wise, to expose the partly exposed structures.

A brick temple, in the form of a platform was exposed on the island of the Benisagar tank in course of scientific clearance work. The platform or Vedika measures 6.00 x 6.00 mtrs and a flight of three steps are provided to this platform from the east direction. The platform is enclosed within an enclosure wall, providing a pradakshinapath to the temple. This temple is constructed of bricks measuring 36 x 23 x 7 cm, 36 x 27 x 6 cm, 37 x 24 x 7 cm and 35 x 21 x 6 cm.

The remains of second temple were traced near the entrance of Devasthana, towards south eastern side of the tank but the plan of this temple is not very clear. This temple is constructed of laterite and khandolite stone blocks.

Two small brick temples are also exposed towards the centre of the eastern embankment of the tank. Both of these temples are also east oriented. One of them has only sanctum measuring 1.23 x 1.23 mtrs. A 42 cm long Shivalinga was also traced in situ, installed in brick built rectangular Yonipitha. The second brick temple contains a sanctum measuring 1.70 x 1.80 mtr followed by a mandapa measuring 4.05 x 3.90 mtrs. The remains of traditional north oriented water outlet is also traced, attached to the sanctum of this temple.

Towards south-east of the tank, the area known as Devasthana, the remains of two Panchayatana temples were exposed. Both of these temples are constructed facing each other. The Panchayatana temple which is facing west consists of a sanctum constructed of stones while its mandapa measuring 8.10 x 6.60 mtrs built of bricks. Four smaller shrines, on the all four corners of above mention temple, enshrined with Shivalinga are also traced.

The second Panchayatana temple is exposed infront of the above described Panchayatana temple. This temple was exposed in a very rudimentary stage but its triratha plan is very clear. This temple is facing east and a one mtr. long Shivalinga is found lying over the debris of the sanctum. The four subsidiary shrines with small Shivalinga are also traced on the all four corners of these temples proving its Panchayatana architecture.

The remains of a Vedi, almost square, constructed of bricks, is also exposed in between above mentioned two Panchayatana temples. The traces of post holes are also noticed all around this structure indicates that the roof of this Vedi was resting on wooden poles. Fairly a large number of roofing tiles are also recovered from this area; also support that roof of the Vedi is of temporary type.

A brick built Kunda is also exposed towards south of the Panchayatana temple. The plan of this Kunda is triratha. The inner area of the Kunda measures 2.05 x 2.05 mtrs. The wall of this Kunda is 1.20 mtrs. wide. The entrance to the Kunda is from the east.

The excavation exposed to south-eastern side has yielded the remains of a residential structure. In the residential complex the bricks paving floor of a kitchen along with some domestic iron objects have been found.

Besides, the clearance work has been taken towards the extreme eastern side of the modern boundary wall and has been yielded the remains of an ancient brick-built temple plinth. The temple faces to west, consists of a rectangular sanctum on a raised platform with having flight of two steps.

In course of scientific clearance work several sculptures are recovered which include Ganesh, Hanuman, Surya, Lakulisha, Bhairava, Agni, Vayu, Kubera, Lajjagauri and erotic figure, etc. The sculpture of Bhairava, requires special mention in which Shiva is shown in a very ferocious mood holding sword in his right hand and one of the head of Brahma in his left hand. This sculpture is known a Brahmasirochhedaka Bhairava and rarely represented.

The recovery of the images of Agni, Vayu and Kubera indicate the existence of Ashtadikpala on the exterior of any of the above temples.

Terracotta sealings depicted sitting lion are also noteworthy discovery as the whole southern Chhotnagpur region is presently known as Singhbhum.

The above mentioned discoveries- temples and sculptures has opened a new era suggesting that right from 5th century AD to 11th -12th century AD the Benisagar site was a great Kshetra of Saiva cult specially for tantrism, and provide only evidences of Panchayatana temple in the soil of Jharkhand. The temple architecture of Benisagar may be compared with those prevailed in Orissan Rekha Deula type.

(II) Scientific Clearance Work at Ancient Shiva Temple Khekparta, Dist. - Lohardaga, Jharkhand.

Archaeological Survey of India, Ranchi Circle, Ranchi has exposed a group of small temples through scientific clearance work in the foot-hill area and all the temples are dedicated to lord Shiva as all excepting one are having Shivalinga installed in the shrines.

All the above excavated remains are conserved by the Ranchi Circle and also committed to develop the site on an international standard, providing all tourist amenities to its visitors.

Exploration: 2008-09

Exploration in district Saraikela Kharswan carried out under the direction of Shri C.L.N. Shastri, assisted by M. K. Sarkar, N. K. Sinha, R. Raj and C. Kumar conducted in and around the submersible area of proposed Icha Dam as a part of Subarnarekha Multipurpose Project.

In course of exploration in and around the Subarnarekha project the Shri Raghunath Ji Mahaprabhu temple was inspected, stylistically the main shrine has curvilinear sikhara, whereas other adjoining four rooms sikhara follow the pidhadeul style. The sanctum of the temple is 3.15 x 4.70 mt. followed by a rectangle 3.10 x 4.70 mts. porch, constructed by burnt bricks with traditional adhesive lime and surkhi. The interior of the sanctum follow geometric/non-geometric and floral paintings credit by applying with poly-chrome resin. However it is dated back to 1887 AD as per the tradition told by local Raja family.

Exploration: 2009-10

Exploration in Rajmahal area in district Sahebganj, Jharkhand has been conducted by Ranchi circle under the direction of Shri N. G. Nikoshey, Superintending Archaeologist of Ranchi Circle. The main objective of the exploration was to explore more sites for including in the proposal for declaring as centrally protected monuments. These monuments/sites are as such Jainabad Mosque Tomb of Mirja Mohammed Beg, Twin Mosque of Imlibari, Maina Bibi Tomb all are in Raj Mahal area of Sahebganj district of Jharkhand. Tagore Hill and Birsa Munda Central Jail is situated in the heart of Ranchi city and the proposals alongwith photographs has been submitted to the Directorate for to declare as centrally protected monuments/sites.

Exploration: 2010-11

A team of Ranchi Circle of ASI under the direction of Shri N.G. Nikoshey, Superintending Archaeologist assisted by A. Arif, Assistant Archaeologist, M. Ekka, Surveyor, M. K. Brahmchari, Draftsman and K. K. Jha, Photographer has carried out exploration work in District Ranchi, West Singhbhum, Palamu and Deoghar of Jharkhand and the investigated sites are as such:

Sutiambay Garh Pithoria, Dist. Ranchi locally known as the first capital of Munda dynasty. Towards the southern side of Pithoria Hill found Mesolithic tools which were made up of Chalcedony, Agate, Quartz and Jaspar.

Bhagia Beda Nullah, Dist. West Singhbhum is located near the ancient tank and temple remains of Benisagar, discovered Mesolithic tools, most of these tools are based on blade, core and flakes and are made up of Jaspar, Chert, Quartz and Chalcedony.

Kabra Kala, Pansa and Sahar Vira sites are situated in block Japla, Dist. Palamu of Jharkhand. These sites are much importance in archaeological point of view. The history of the sites goes back from Neolithic to Late Medieval period.

Karon is situated in District Deoghar of Jharkhand has found the remains of Late Medieval period.

(III) Scientific Clearance work (2013-14) at Haradih, Ranchi.
Work is in Progress

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