02. Malhar Visit
One day Mr. G.L. Raickwar and Rahul Singh, both from the local Archaeological Department, who became close friends of mine, suggested a visit to Malhar, a large village, some 33 kms South East of Bilaspur. Malhar is supposed to be a place where occurance of ancient coins was reported. I readily agreed and accompanied them. I visited the ruins of beautiful temples, Pataleshwar, Deor, Didindai etc and the site museum where the earliest sandstone idol of Lord Vishnu is kept. The sculpture is said to be an important find. Although crude looking, it has something inscribed on it in Brahmi characters of the 2nd Century A.D. Then I was taken round to a nearby mound said to contain a ruined mud fort. It was surrounded by a moat with little water. Originally it provided protection to the then existing fort.
Mr. Raickwar started giving me lessons in locating coins. We started searching and within half an hour collected few pebble looking pieces. He declared that they are all pieces of metal enveloped in mud. I could not believe it but they were really a little hevier. In the past, while digging the moat, the deeper soil was thrown up which contained all the antiquities of the early ages. When it rains, water flows down creating cavities in the ridges and one could look there to collect such heavier, mud enveloped pieces.
After returning from Malhar, we washed all the mud pieces and lo! They turned out to be tiny square copper pieces containing some symbols. There were, however, no traces of any inscription. Nevertheless they were the ancient coins.
Then I became a frequent visitor to Malhar, particularly on Sundays and holidays during and after the rainy season. In the process I met one Mr. Gulab Singh Thakur of Malhar who also collected coins but was reluctant to part with them. Thereafter, I could locate a resource person there, who was my subordinate. Although he had interests, I guided him and he started working for me thereafter.