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Chance find changes plan

An archaeologist inspects the construction site in Kendrapara on Thursday where relics of an ancient temple were discovered and (above) one of the relics. Telegraph pictures

Kendrapara, March 21: A government civil construction in front of the district collectorate here has led to the chance discovery of ruins of what could be a 17th century Hindu temple.

A two-member team of experts of the state archaeology department today inspected the site and examined the 3-feet-high stone structure.

Construction workers were digging the boundary wall of the office of the district planning and co-ordination department in front of the district magistrate and collector’s office here when their tools struck a large stone structure.

The district administration immediately took possession of the structure.

Sachindra Rajguru, an archaeologist with the state archaeology department, said: “The stone structure dug out from the site could be conclusively stated to be that of a summit structure, which is otherwise called the ‘dadhinauti’, of a Hindu temple. From the character of the stone, we believe that the structure is about 400 to 500 years old.”

“We inspected the site where the discovery was made. We came across several stone blocks that are quite old. It appears that the site of the construction once used to house a temple. The spot must be having the ruins of the temple,” said Rajguru.

“After an inspection, the department has asked the district administration to stop any form of digging or excavation at the site. To ensure safety of the structure lying beneath, the archaeology department will shortly conduct a survey,” said superintendent of the state archaeology department B.P. Roy.

The administration has stopped the construction at the site. A district planning and co-ordination office building was supposed to come up there. Recently, the plot, which was under unauthorised occupation, was taken over by the district administration, said Kendrapara collector Durga Prasad Behera.

The stone structure has been preserved at the collectorate, he said.

Researchers feel that the ruins are that of a Lord Baldevjew temple, which was demolished during the reign of the Mughals. The Baldevjew temple, in its present shape and form, was rebuilt in the mid-eighteenth century by the Mahrattas.

Researcher Basudev Das said: “The relics that have been found are that of the Baldevjew temple. There is plenty of historical proof of it. Hunter’s history of Odisha, Harekrushna Mahtabh’s writings on Odisha’s history and the journal the Bihar and Odisha Research Society (Volume 2, Part 3, Page 382) mention the destruction of a Baldevjew temple here during the Mughal rule. The archaeology department should excavate the site,” he said.

“The site should be given ‘protected’ status and archaeologists should undertake excavation of the site,” said Girish Chandra Kar, secretary of Tulashi Unnayana Parishad, a local cultural organisation.