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ASI finds 9th-century monolithic Linga in Vietnam temple complex

A Shiv Linga or representation of the Hindu deity Shiva dating back to the 9th century has been unearthed at Cham temple complex in Vietnam during restoration work by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

External affairs minister S Jaishankar announced the find on Twitter on Wednesday, saying the development underscored the “civilisational connect” between the two countries and was also a “great cultural example of India’s development partnership”.

The Shiva Ling was unearthed during an excavation at Mỹ Sơn in Quang Nam province of Vietnam at Cham temple complex, a part of the UNESCO world heritage site.

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It was built during the reign of King Indravarman II, a ruler of the Khmer Empire.

According to the report, a four-member team from ASI is presently conducting restoration and conservation work at Mỹ Sơn. It has already restored temples in two separate groups at the complex and is now working on the third group of temples.

This year’s work schedule runs from January to June. Over the past three seasons, ASI has restored temples in two different groups at the complex, and the team is now working on a third group of temples.

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“During the current restoration work at the temples, the ASI team found the Shiv Linga. It is a monolithic structure with decorative patterns of very exquisite cultural value,” said an official who declined to be named.

“Before this, six other Shiv Lingas were found in the My Son temple complex. But the latest find is believed to be the most magnificent,” the official added.

French experts discovered the temple complex in a dilapidated condition in 1903-04. During excavations at that time, French archaeologists had described the presence of a Shiv Linga in the group of temples that is currently being renovated.

However, due to limited excavation capabilities in those days, this Shiv Linga could not be recovered. Subsequently, political disturbances and wars in Vietnam led to destruction of the temple complex.

The external affairs ministry created a new Development Partnership Division (DPA-IV) in January to coordinate and undertake culture and heritage conservation projects abroad, including identification, planning and implementation of schemes in consultation with technical agencies.

Recently, Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust tweeted that several broken statues of Hindu gods and goddesses were found at the temple site while levelling operations were underway.

During the excavation, a 5 feet Shiva Linga, 7 pillars of black touchstone, 6 pillars of red sandstone and broken idols of gods and goddesses were discovered.

It also includes several objects of archaeological importance like flowers made of stone, Kalash, Aamalak and Dorjamb.

After the discovery, KK Mohammad, former Regional Director of the Archaeological Survey of India, said that the whole complex should be properly excavated to establish stratigraphy of the entire place. Looking at the images of the findings he said that these temple remains are from around 8th century to 10th century AD adding that it shows there was a temple at the site.

Mohammad further said that the site should be given to ASI or the state government so that proper excavation can be conducted.

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