Government Plans to launch Underwater Robots to uncover Dwaraka and Puhar

The Department of Science and Technology is looking forward to launching underwater robotic vehicles near Dwaraka in Gujarat and Puhar in Tamil Nadu to look for evidence of the submerged ancient cities. The programme is currently at a preliminary proposal and is expected to rope in organisations like National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai and the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa. The two institutions have been chosen as the former has indigenously built vehicles capable of plumbing 5,000 metres underwater and the latter has extensive experience in marine archaeology.


Dwarka is a coastal town in Jamnagar district of Gujarat. The town has a very long history. The town has been mentioned in the Mahabharata and is also linked to the god Krishna. Called as ‘Dvaraka’ or ‘Dwaraka’, the port city is mentioned in ancient Greek texts from the 1st millennium.  About 10 years ago, the underwater Archaeological wing of the Archaeological Survey of India had discovered copper coins and certain segments of granite structures. It was considered as a rich city that got buried under the sea. The first excavations at Dwaraka were carried out by the Deccan College in Pune as well as by the Gujarat government’s Department of Archaeology. The study of the pottery found in the city suggests that the city could be over 3,000 years old.

Poompuhar, or Puhar, was the port capital of the Chola dynasty. The city has been mentioned in several Tamil and Buddhist literature. The divers and archaeologists with the NIO had recently found stone remains suggestive of an ancient port and temples buried around 30 feet into the sea.

The programme assumes importance as it will be a testing ground for several technologies such as sophisticated imaging technology and other technologies like the ability to date old stones and recoverable implements using the latest techniques.