Baldevjew facelift fights funds crunch

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By MANOJ KAR
  • Published 22.02.12
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A damaged portion of the Lord Baldevjew temple in Kendrapara. Telegraph picture

Kendrapara, Feb. 21: The 300-year-old Baldevjew temple, built in 1707 when the Marathas ruled this region, is crumbling.

While the state archaeology department pleads helplessness, citing fund crunch for the conservation work, servitors and devotees dismiss this as a lame excuse.

The dadhi nauti (summit structure) of the medieval temple had developed a major crack about a year-and-half ago. A month later, some portions of its bhog ghar (Lord’s kitchen) caved in.

Devotees and the local people then demanded that the temple be renovated. The crumbling structure also caught the attention of the state archaeology department. After conducting an on-the-spot inspection, archaeologists had announced that a comprehensive blueprint was being readied to give the temple the much-needed facelift.

But, more than a year later, things remain the same with no sign of any kind of repair or conservation. The cracks and fissures in the structure have worsened further.

“It remains to be seen when the government agencies wake up from their slumber. Non-maintenance is taking a toll on the temple. Nothing has been done yet to plug the crack. The department inspected the temple and made tall claims. But, repair work is yet to move even an inch,” said Girish Chandra Kar, a local activist.

“There is no denying that the temple is in urgent need of conservation. But, paucity of funds has led to the delay in renovation,” said B.D. Panda, deputy director, department of culture.

However, the conservation project would be undertaken shortly, the officials said.

“The 13th finance commission grants for state-protected heritage sites have been earmarked in this regard. We are expecting to receive government clearance after the poll-related model code of conduct is withdrawn,” said Panda.

“The temple has turned into a monument of neglect. Safety of servitors, priests and thousands of devotees is at stake. The department had deputed an experts’ team to inspect the temple. That was towards the later part of 2010. But, nothing has still come of it,” said Nrusingha Charan Patri, a servitor.

“A number of structures in the temple are in need of repair and maintenance. However, there is no immediate cave-in threat to the structure. The summit of the temple, where the cracks had developed, would be plastered with limestone. The department is also thinking in terms of deplastering some parts of the temple’s exteriors, so that it could withstand nature-induced corrosion. Even the snana mandap, mukhadwara, maunsimaa temple and Vasudev temple need measures for conservation,” said Ashwini Kumar Satapathy, an official.

“The temple is a four-way structure and devoid of architectural design. The Maratha style of temple-building was mostly simple without intricate stone carvings,” said Bijay Kumar Rath, archaeologist and former superintendent of the department.

“It seems the medieval period structure is bearing the brunt of vagaries of nature. It requires instant conservation work,” he said.