Ahmedabad: A common construction site in Shantinagar society in Usmanpura drew many curious visitors morning with the sudden appearance of three eight-feet-tall Jain idols. Religious heads and residents from nearby thronged the site to perform poojas and later chalked out a plan to install them in a community hall nearby. Around 10.30 a JCB machine operator,while excavating the place,felt a huge stone underneath. On digging, head of a Jain deities idol emerged. The labourers dug out the land further and brought out the idol carefully. The residents of adjoining apartments, who saw the idol, rushed to the site and started digging the place nearby and found two more idols.
Jain priests Harihant Sagarji and Muni Padmajit Sagarji who were present at the spot claimed that the idols may be four hundred years old and its makers had hidden the statues during an attack by the Mughal army. The priests also claimed that the idols were made by artisans from Khambat and were being transported into the city. However, the state archeology department had a completely different version to tell. Scientists claimed that the three idols were incomplete and looked similar. The chisel work suggested that it could not be more than 100 years old. Idols of this size were normally constructed near a temple site. The idols seem incomplete as the artisans have not carved the vehicles of the tirthankars and specific signs on the idols body that can help devotees identify the revered gods. The artisans may have left the idols for some reason which is not known yet, says director of state archeology department Y S Rawat. The idols were found disfigured. They share striking similarity to Khambati style. This style of idol is present at a Jain temple at Shambhavnath Ni Khadki in Zaveri Bazaar. While one of the murti is of Lord Adheswar, the other two are yet to be identified. The idols are 88 inches tall, 67 inches broad and 29 inches thick. Ketan Shah of Shantinagar Shwetambar Murtipujak Jain Sangh said: After getting permission from ASI, we will put these idols for darshan. So far,10,000 people, including monks, have visited the site where the idols are kept. But Muni Padmajit claimed, Similar Jain idols are present in Sambhav Nath ni Khadki in Zaveriwad area in the walled city which are smaller in size compared to the ones found at this site. We believe that the idols were being brought for a new Jain temple and that they were hidden fearing attacks. Virendra Shah who owned a bungalow at the site for many years had sold the property to Anil Patel, a builder ,for a residential apartment scheme at the site. It was during the digging to lay the foundation at the site that the idols were revealed. The foundation of the bungalow was just one metre deep, while the idols were found four metres deep. There was no way that Shah could have known about the presence of the idols, said a resident.