| A priest wades through waterlogged peripheries of the Vaitaal temple. Telegraph picture |
Bhubaneswar, May 3: Archaeologists are stressing a permanent solution to save the 8th Century Vaitaal temple in Old Town from structural damage.
The temple gets waterlogged every monsoon.
The structural safety of the temple was discussed at a meeting called by the state government yesterday.
Though the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) pumps out water regularly during the rains, this is a temporary solution to the problem.
Though government officials said building a boundary wall, a 24X7 pumping facility during the rains with two pumps of 7hp would be enough to keep the historical monument clean and safe, ASI experts said a more permanent solution ought be found.
Superintendent archaeologist (Bhubaneswar circle) A.K. Patel said that in the case of Vaitaal temple, unplanned and uncontrolled urbanisation had come in the way of the upkeep. The temple had a good drainage system in the pre-Independence era. The drainage opened into the nearby drainage channel that flows near Bindusagar Lake, he said. “But rapid urbanisation activities around Bindusagar and Vaitaal temple has choked the natural drainage system of the temple and its surrounding areas. The temple has been hemmed in by mushrooming houses which prevent drainage of excess water from the temple premises.”
Former superintending archaeologist of State Archaeology Bijay Kumar Rath agreed that urbanisation had destroyed the natural drainage of the historic structure, which is popularly known as Teen Mundia Mandir. Rath highlighted the importance of the temple too. “The temple resembles the Parasurameswar temple style in its architectural form but is more rich in decorative details. Fine carvings, particularly on the doorframe, are the highlight of the temple. The Shaivite monument has Lord Shiva as its chief deity and other deities such as the Goddess Kapali Kali are also seen on the premises,” Rath said.
Patel suggested that the drainage division of the water resources department conduct a study on the sewer catchment of the area around Vaitaal temple so that a separate channel mechanism could be planned.
“A drainage outlet needs to be planned in a scientific manner. Temporary measures to pump out rainwater will not help to keep the historically important structure in good health. It is a collective responsibility and the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC), the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) and the water resources department have to work out a plan so that the natural water flow of the rainwater can be channelled to reach the nearby drainage channel,” said the ASI expert.
Director, culture department, Sushil Kumar Das, said: “Yesterday’s meeting was a preliminary one and another will be held in the near future so that something concrete can be planned before the rains.” Last year, incessant rain in August had led to the kalash (pitcher-like structure to hold the temple flag) to fall. Local residents had asked the ASI authorities to repair the structure.
Yesterday’s meeting on Vaitaal temple was attended among others by principal secretary, tourism department, Ashok Kumar Tripathy, officials from ASI, State Archaeology, engineers from BMC, BDA and water resources department and local MLA Ashok Panda.