A 14th century stone inscription which sheds new light on the history and evolution of Mumbai may be opened for public display and research.The state government has written to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) asking that the medieval-era stone tablet be handed over to it or displayed to the public. The inscription discovered in the BARC last year lists out a land grant by King Hambirrao, who ruled over Mahikavati (modern-day Mahim) and was a feudatory of the Tughlaqs. The edict was made in 1368 and (Samvat 1290) sheds new light on Mumbai’s pre-colonial history.Historians say that apart from the city’s history and social structure, it also reveals that Mumbai was not a medieval backwater before it was colonised.State Directorate of archaeology and museums officials said they had written to the BARC asking for the tablet, which was an important artefact about the history and urbanisation of Mumbai, to be handed over to the directorate.”It can also be displayed for people at an appropriate place in the BARC premises,” the official suggested.Mugdha Karnik, Director, Centre for Extra-Mural Studies (CEMS), noted that this stone inscription was “a property of the country and was very important for Mumbaikars.” “So, it should be available for public view, either (in) the BARC or they should hand it to the state department of archaeology,” she said. Karnik rued that despite communication from them, the BARC had not loaned the inscription for display at the ongoing exhibition organised by the CEMS at the varsity’s Kalina campus, which sees at least 20,000 footfalls.KN Vyas, Director, BARC could not be reached for a comment despite repeated telephonic calls. Queries sent to the director on email were not answered until the time of going to the press.”The history of Mumbai between 1300 and 1420 is very nebulous… the Yadava dynasty (of Deogiri) was routed by Allaudin Khilji in 1303 after which his son became the Governor. They were later replaced by the Tughlaqs. But we do not know who ruled Mumbai then,” noted archaeologist Kurush Dalal, Assistant Professor, CEMS, University of Mumbai.He added that the stone tablet referred to “Maharajadhiraj Shri Hambhirrao,” Ferozshah Tughlaq (whose vassal Hambirrao was), and Hambhirrao’s ministers like Arisini Prabhu. It mentions the grant of land near Nanale village (later acquired for the construction of the BARC). Hambhirrao, whose stone inscriptions are also found at Nagaon and Uran in Raigad, was the ruler of ‘Mahim Bimbasthan’ (today’s Mahim), which is referred to in the edict, and his domains encompassed northern Raigad and southern Thane.”The inscription also lists out names of people like Deonarkaru (from Deonar), Marolkaru (one from Marol) and Daithankaru (Daithan, though there is no evidence of where it was located in Mumbai) and Saharkaru (from Sahar)… as witnesses. The titles like Desila and Mhatara may be the root-words of surnames like Desai and Mhatre and tell us about the social system of those times,” explained Dalal.”(The inscriptions) reveal that in 1368 AD, there was a local Hindu ruler for Mumbai, whose domains covered Mumbai’s island city, Sashti, Deonar, Thane and parts of the Konkan and was a feudatory of the Tughlaqs… this has changed the understanding of Mumbai’s history. We know that Mumbai was not some backwater before the advent of the Portuguese,” he noted.
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