GoldHuntChangedthe Face of This Unnao Seat
ASI excavation did not yield any gold, but the locals believe it was due to digging that Centre renovated the temple and developed the nearby areas
Daundia Khera (Unnao): Daundia Khera in Unnao district is a far cry from the nondescript village that had shot to fame overnight when the Archaeological Survey of India started digging for gold at the 180-year-old Setu Rameshwar temple.
Nearly two and a half years later, the village stands transformed thanks to the national attention bestowed by the gold rush, complete with cemented ghats, a morning coaching centre for schoolchildren, a fortnightly dangal where wrestling matches are held and a monthly geet mela or song festival hosted by the locals.
Part of Bhagwant Nagar assembly constituency in the district, which goes to the polls on Sunday, Daundia Khera has much to thank the excavation for.
The ASI had denied the excavation was linkedtothelocalgodmanSwamiShobhan Sarkar, who claimed that the 19th century local king Rao Ram Baksh Singh had appeared in his dream and told him that 1,000 tonnes of gold was lying buried under the temple. The excavation did not yield any gold either, but the locals believe it was due to the digging that the Centre immediately ordered complete renovation of the temple and the areas nearby which were in ruins.
“Pehle yahan ki dharti so rahi thi. Ab iske nakshatra jaag gaye hain (the fortune of this place has turned,” said Om Kumar Sharma, whose family has been taking care of the ruins for generations.
Locals said a lot of work in this area happened because of legislator Kuldeep Sengar, who was part of SP till he joined the BJP last month and is contesting another seat in Unnao district this time.
“The Centre released ₹ 8 cr immediately after the ASI episode. That is how all this work happened. This temple has existed since aadikaal (ancient times). There is no puja every day. But on Shivratri it will be Daundia Khera now has cemented ghats, a morning coaching centre for children, a fortnightly dangal & more dressedlikeadulhan(bride),”saidSharma.
He said there is a tuition centre that operates in the mornings where a “certain vice principal teaches English and math to poor children who come from nearby villages”.
People mostly come for the dangal and other festivities that are organised often now, Sharma said. “Sona jab se nahin mila, tab se mandir par se aastha thodi kam ho gayi hai (People don’t have that much faith in the temple ever since the gold wasn’t found),” he said.
The ASI ended up excavating only “stone figure of lion, terracotta arecanut shaped beads, two hearths and three burnt brick walls”. “But now we have cemented pathways and a beautiful ghat. Still there is a problem as it is not very safe at night,” said Jayakumar Pandey, who said he comes to the temple often to rest during afternoons.
Some local residents, however, alleged that the government found gold but did not disclose it. “Purana sona nagdhari hota hai . Aur itni khudai hui ki sona khisak gaya. (Old gold changes form. Also, the gold must havemovedinallthatdigging).ThisisaShiv mandir and a cobra visits here often. The snake might know. There is no way a divyadarshi (seer) like Swamiji can go wrong,” said Mahesh Patel, a farmer in the village.
Nationalism and loyalty to village deities and icons is in the blood of the people here, said BJP candidate HN Dixit. Locals believe theirkingRaoRamBakshSinghwashanged by the British during the 1857 revolt. A temple built on the site is revered by them till today.
The Samajwadi Party had won four of the six seats in Unnao district in 2012, but this time the BJP is banking heavily on this Brahmin-Bania dominated area.
“The fact that both Akhilesh (Yadav) and Rahul (Gandhi) have held rallies in this area will help consolidate support for the alliance,” said Abhaya Yadav, who runs a tea shop in Bighapur.
BJP’s Dixit, on the other hand, said Union home minister Rajnath Singh has come visiting several times, indicating the importance the party is according to the area.
The Congress has fielded Ankit Parihar from Bhagwant Nagar. Parihar, a Thakur, has built a hospital and often has “pedachai” with them. The other five seats in the district have SP candidates.