Project threat to shrine- While one heritage structure in the state gets a saviour, another lies in fear of being submerged

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By SUBRAT MOHANTY
  • Published 10.08.11
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Sambalpur, Aug. 9: Huma temple, the oldest Shiva temple of this region, famous for its leaning structure, faces the threat of being submerged because of the proposed Sindol hydropower project. The joint-venture of the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) and state government for setting up three hydropower projects on the Mahanadi river has increased apprehension among local residents that this famous leaning temple might sink.

The Huma temple, where Lord Bimaleswar is worshiped, is located at Huma village of Sambalpur district, 23km from the town. There are a number of mythological stories behind this leaning structure.

“There are a number of legendary stories behind the structure of the temple. However, this is a planned structure. The temple has been constructed on the bank of the confluence of Mahanadi and Dholi jora, a tributary of Mahanadi,” said Radhakanta Seth, writer of the book Huma Bakra Kahinki, a book on the temple.

“It is the oldest Shiva temple in Sambalpur region. There are different versions about the legends of the temple. It was probably constructed during the Chouhan dynasty. Some say it was constructed during the period of king Baliyar Singh, fifth king of Sambalpur. However, the land for the temple was donated by king Balram Dev, the first king of Sambalpur,” said Seth. “It was constructed between 1545 AD to 1560 AD,” he added.

The captivating beauty of the temple has always attracted a large number of tourists.

“More than two lakh tourists, including many from abroad, visit the spot every year. Fifty-nine foreigners and more than two lakh domestic tourists had visited this place in 2009,” said Sanatan Naik, tourist officer in Sambalpur.

While the temple itself looks stunning due to its architecture, the “Kudo” fishes of the Machhindra ghat located right next to the temple can leave visitors amazed.

“The fishes here eat food from the hands of visitors without any fear. They are clearly visible swimming in the water. People here never catch these fishes with the intention of eating them,” said Deepak Panda, writer of the book Sambalpur Sambalpur.

“It is the only leaning temple in the state. But unfortunately, the beautiful place is being preserved by the devotees only,” said Sadhu Charan Panda, former vice-chancellor of Utkal University of Culture.

However, the monument protected under the state archaeology needs much attention when it comes to conservation. The structure needs repairs at many portions. Local residents said the upcoming projects are another threat to the preservation of the ancient temple.

“We are afraid that the upcoming projects may submerge the ancient Huma temple since such instances have occurred in the past,” said Sadhu Charan Panda.

Officers at the state archaeology department, however, said no construction around the monument could begin without its permission.

“So far we have not been approached for any clearance for construction near the temple. Any construction work around it would first need a no-objection certificate from the sate archaeology,” said an officer.