Narmada Project


The river Narmada, passing through the heart of Madhya Pradesh is one of the most sacred rivers of India. In fact, it figures in the list of the seven most important and sacred rivers of India.

" Gange cha Yamune chaiva
Godavari Sarasvati Narmade
Sindhu Kaveri jalesmin
Sannidhim kuru"

Rising from Amarkantak in the Mekal Mountain range in Shahdol district, Narmada flows through the Vindhyas and the Satpuras to the plains of Bharoch in Gujrat and merges itself into the Arabian Sea. In this long journey of 1312 kms. from Amarkantak to the Arabian Sea, it actually touches 1077 kms. in Madhya Pradesh, covering the districts of Shahdol, Mandla, Jabalpur, Narsinghpur, Hoshangabad, Dewas, Khandwa, Dhar and Khargone.

Narmada, like all other major river systems of the world, as well as that of India, too, has witnessed activities of life that flourished on its both sides. That it is a mute witness of human activities in those early days of the dawn of human civilization is amply corroborated by the finds of lithic cultures. Even today, it provides sustenance to innumerable tribal population of the state like the Gonds, the Baigas, the Bhils, the Bhilalas, and the Kols etc. It is no wonder then that the Narmada would so frequently be mentioned in the vast literary treasure of India. The two great Epics, the Puranas and the early Sanskrit texts: all are eloquent of the life giving power of the Narmada

It is evident that the river Narmada along with its two banks and the adjoining regions had seen the early men bustle with activities. Indeed the entire region bears traces of Lithic, Iron, Copper and Chalcolithic cultures. In the words of Prof. K.D. Bajpai "The recent studies have shown that it was on the banks of three rivers  Chambal, Betwa and Narmada that the village life flourished.. Some of the villages in course of time assumed the forms of towns". S. G. Darien observes: “In Gujrat and eastwards along the lower reaches of the Narmada River, the Indus pottery blends gradually into several other ceramic traditions. The total picture reveals a transplanting of Indus technology and culture to the region of Saurashtra and Gujrat, where it is absorbed by people of several traditions and eventually brought into contact with the Ganges Valley by groups following the Chambal river north east towards the Yamuna and by others along the Narmada in to southern Bihar".

The Narmada basins besides providing shelter to the Pre and Protohistoric man had also been the home of many early Indian dynasties. Thus flourished the Mauryas, the Shungas, the Guptas, the Pushyabhutis, the Gurjara Pratiharas, the Rashtrakutas, the Kalachuris and Paramaras etc.. The artifacts left by them made the entire region a treasure house of antiquities, a repository of different cultures, a fact that always attracted the attention of the scholars. Surveys, explorations and excavations were carried out. Much was done by them but more remains to be done yet.

The Dam Projects has necessitated a fresh look at the archaeological and cultural heritage available in the Narmada Valley in Madhya Pradesh. Hence a scheme for salvaging/ relocating the heritage was drawn up. Broadly, this would involve;

  • Survey of antiquities to be salvaged
  • Shifting/relocation of the sculptures and artefacts for which suitable sites and buildings would have to be located.
  • Documentation for the purposes of record
  • Setting up and display of the cultural and heritage artifacts thus retrieved.

The construction of six proposed dams, i.e. Sardar Sarovar, Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Jobat and Man  Projects,  The temples of Modern India in the words of Jawaharlai Nehru, on the river Narmada and its tributaries would affect some 566 villages-of the state. In order to safeguard the archaeological treasures located in these villages, the staff and officials of this Directorate of Archaeology Archives and Museums had undertaken survey work in the concerned regions and identified the sites and monuments. Thus the first task of identifying the sites as well as the artifacts to be relocated is already done.

In continuation of the process of collection of sculptures, our survey teams had made extensive tours in all the villages of the respective districts which were to be submerged by the dam water but while collecting the artifacts the team sometimes had to face stiff resistance of the villagers who quite understandably attach much value to these objects of worship. A religious sentiment is connected with them which they do not wish to part with. Hence several times we had to send our teams to convince them that we are going to procure them for their protection and preservation for posterity. Because of this our process of collection work got delayed. However, more than 440 sculptures from the submergence area have been collected and housed in the museums.


  • Archaeological Museum, Kasrawad District Khargone  established under Sardar Sarovar Project
  • Narmada Sanskriti Research Centre, Bhopal is to be established.


Last Modified 6/1/2015