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Idols cry for care

Bhubaneswar, June 14: A marvellous piece of architecture, the centuries old Jaleswar temple situated in a remote corner of the Kalarahanga village in Patia, is a remarkable centre of spirituality and heritage.

Kept with utmost care, the monument has been given the perfect ambience by the villagers, by keeping the site free from any encroachment by urban structures.

However, local residents complain of knee-deep waterlogging just outside the Jaleswar temple during heavy rainfall.

“All villagers and especially the members of a local committee called the ‘Jaleswar Mandir Punarudhar Parishad’ to give efforts to take the best care of the monument. However, we would need some assistance from the Orissa state archaeology in maintaining the temple properly. They had restored the temple from debris about 20 years ago,” said Santosh Kumar Behera, a devotee.

“However, many detached structures are found here that can be properly installed by archaeologists. Also, heavy rains cause waterlogging outside the temple,” he added.

The Kesharis erected the temple and it dates back to a period before the 10th century. According to local residents this contradicts the verdict of archaeologists who trace its origins to 12th century.

“The first historian who had visited the Jaleswar temple, Kedarnath Mohapatra had told us that according to the architecture, this temple is older than Lingaraj temple in which the sanctum faces west,” said Bainsidhar Mishra, the president of the Jaleswar Mandir Punarudhar Parishad.

The distinct features of the temple, like a 10-armed image of Goddess Parvati, an idol of Lord Kartikeswara holding a hen in his hand, and the idols of Ganesha and Saraswati at the centre of the doorjamb unlike the later trend of Ganesha and Laxmi, support the argument of the local residents.

The exteriors of the Jaleswar temple bear stunning carvings of minor deities and floral motifs. But, despite the steps taken by local residents for maintenance of the temple, a number of idols can be seen lying broken and affected by weathering.

Also, the natamandapa or the huge stage for dance installed in the temple precinct right in front of the sanctum, needs attention as the pillars show cracks. A number of statues and smaller sculptures unearthed from the precinct also lie on the natamandapa.

Another smaller temple of Kalabhairavi that is situated in the same precinct is said to have lost its statue in the past. The local residents allege that there have been many irregularities in maintenance of the temple land and property in the past.

“Though endowment department has been handed over the charge of the temple, it is yet to look after the affairs in a full-fledged manner. Probably, things will be better for this age-old monument then,” said a local. This abode of Lord Shiva, though maintained by the local residents, needs the support of archaeological experts and the authorities of the endowment department.

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