Debarati Mitra RAWAT
Archaeological Survey of India
Piram Island – A Case Study
Gujarat by virtue of its unique geographical position and a coastline of 1600 km was one of the principle maritime regions of India since ancient times. It was the height of international trade and had many prominent ports.
The Gulf of Cambay (Khambhat) also known as “Stambhatirtha” was one of the principle port of Gujarat and was a highly flourishing place of power and importance in the ancient as well as medieval period. Just at the entry point of this Gulf of Khambat, between the coast , Hathab on the west and Bharygaza (Bharuch) on the east, there is a narrow stretch of an island 6 km(in the NE-SE) direction called Piram Island. It is in all likelihood the island of “Baiones” mentioned in the Greek sea guide of First Century AD, the Periplus Maris Erythraei. Piram, also located 10 Km to the South East of Ghogha port is a reef of rock covered by blown sand. From the ancient time, the island has been considered as landmark point for the navigators in the Gulf of Cambay. Fortunately many archaeological remains scattered throughout the island speaks of an urbanized centre particularly with an industry site of rock from where stones have been extracted for the purpose of building architectural members. Many fossilised stone, animal and human sculptures are also seen scattered including architectural members. A Buddha head was reported during 1836 from the Island. The sudden discovery of Buddha heads, from coastal sites like Gogha and other areas in Saurashtra , may not rule out the fact that during the Mauryan period these islands were under the influence of Buddhism, as we have ancient record of Dharma “prachar” in the coasts found in Asokan pillar edicts.