A collage of images of underwater statues has gone viral on social media with the claim that they are 5,000-year-old Hindu idols found off the coast of Bali, Indonesia. Several Twitter and Facebook users have posted the collage with the caption, ‘5000yr old Shri Vishnuji found in Bali sea, Indonesia. Now Mahabratha as per @NileshOak Ji is 5500BC approx. So which Rajya of Bharat was Indonesia & did it participate in Mahabharata? Sanatan was always present in South Asia till Akhand Bharat boundaries @SatyaSanatanInd’.
According to India Today Anti Fake News War Room (AFWA), these stone idols were created artificially in an underwater garden at Pemuteran in northern Bali. Scuba divers created the sculptures in 2005 as part of a coral reef conservation project.
Based on a keyword search, we discovered that these images have been circulating online since 2010. Paul Turley posted a video called ‘UnderWater Temple Garden Pemuteran Bali’ in 2012 with an identical title. This YouTube video shows similar underwater structures. According to the video description, Turley shot the video at the underwater temple garden near the Temple Wall divesite in Pemuteran. Turley is the owner of ‘Sea Rovers Dive Center’, a tourism agency in Bali. The project is part of a social/environmental initiative called Reef Gardeners. A blog written by him claims that people have used his images to create imaginary stories about an underwater Hindu temple on social media.
‘Apparently someone took my photo, posted it on Twitter, and claimed an archeological discovery off the coast of Bali. This went global thanks to the Internet, creating an urban legend,’ Turley wrote in his blog. ‘BBC News’ and ‘The Telegraph’ published articles about Turley and the underwater sculptures in Bali. However, Turley claims that the original concept for creating this underwater garden came from Chris Brown, who founded Reef Seen Divers’ Resort in Bali.
On the resort’s website, it states that the underwater temple garden was created in 2005 for coral reef conservation. ‘There are ten large stone statues on stone plinths and a 4-metre tall Balinese candi bentar gateway. It is found at a depth of 28 metres and incorporates a cleaning station with schooling baitfish,’ the website describes the project. Turley’s YouTube channel has another video of the underwater temple garden. Thus, it can be concluded that the viral images of underwater sculptures are not 5,000 years old.