Chennai: The Keladi (Keezhadi) excavation site on the banks of Vaigai river in Sivaganga district, where archaeological evidences show the site to be the home of most ancient civilisation in the country, has seen a sudden surge in tourists arrivals, almost hampering the excavation work. The site, located about 12 km southeast of Madurai, indicating an urban settlement of Sangam age, has turned into a tourist attraction luring several thousands of visitors.On Thursday alone 10,000 persons had descended upon the village to see history unfurling before them, thus totally taking the 25 workers involved in excavation besides a handful of guides by surprise. Following this, the State archaeology department has been constrained to impose restrictions upon the visitors.Admitting that the footfalls at the site has been increasing from 3,500, 8000 and touched 10,000 on Thursday, Tamil Culture and Archaeology Minister K. Pandiarajan, said, “there are only 25 workers involved in digging at the 2-acre land leased out to carry out further excavations. Just imagine the situation when 10,000 persons stand at the site. Also, the drizzle has made the soil slushy.”Owing to the unprecedented surge of visitors, who also included school students besides foreigners, the Archaeology department has resorted to temporarily restrict the timing of visit to only 10 am to 11.30 am. Though taking into account the interest evinced by the people, the department had arranged 5 guides to conduct them around.“But despite this we are finding it difficult to continue our activities. We are also bound to keep up the deadline of completing the excavation within two weeks,” the Minister explained.The fifth phase of excavation was supposed to have been completed by September end. The State Archaeology Department has sought permission to conduct the sixth phase excavation in Manalur, Konthagai and Agaram villages, which are close to Keezhadi.
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