Monday, 30th October 2017

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Urban vandalism threatens temple

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By NAMITA PANDA
  • Published 31.08.11
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The eighth century Markandeswar temple located in a narrow lane in Bhubaneswar needs the immediate attention of authorities. Pictures by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 30: A beautiful location and an aesthetic design make Markandeswar temple a unique heritage site. But the eighth century temple that stands alongside Bindusagar tank lies in neglect and faces threat from urban vandalism despite being a protected site under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Markandeswar temple is located in a lane before Badheibanka Chowk on Rath Road. The crammed lane grows narrower as one reaches the temple because of houses that have come up on all sides of the ancient structure. The temple is positioned on a low level and can be approached by descending a fleet of steps at the end of the lane, at the feet of which lies Bindusagar tank.

According to Sadasiba Pradhan, an archaeology expert, Markandeswar temple is significant because of its construction that dates back to the formative years of Orissa’s temple building style. The features that include detailed carvings of mythological characters as well as of dancers and male and female figures can be compared to the features of the intricate craftsmanship of Vaital temple and Parasurameswara temple.

The temple is made of sandstone while the boundary wall is made of laterite. A serene view of Bindusagar tank greets you as you climb down the stairs leading to the temple, the elegant heritage site adding to the visual treat. Sadly, the monument has not been maintained properly and needs conservation.

Many portions of the temple were repaired some years ago and the front portion of the sanctum sanctorum was built recently. But the iron scaffolding at the back of the temple spire was left behind during the repair and is rusting.

Erosion caused by rainwater is clearly defacing the designs on the walls of the temple while the floor is covered with wild grass and other vegetation at most places. Also, visitors have dumped litter here and there on the premises of the temple.

“The temple must be very old. We visit it regularly for prayers. I have no idea about the significance of the temple since there are no placards or signboards telling us of its history,” said a resident of the area.

Indeed, one does not come across any signage posted by the ASI authorities that would inform visitors of the significance of the ancient monument and the importance of its preservation.

While any construction is prohibited within a radius of 100 metres around an ASI protected site, the temple has already been encroached on all sides.