‘Unauthorised constructions near water channels around temples have spelt doom for ancient monuments’

Dozens of ancient temples have borne the brunt of incessant rain which has been pounding Bhubaneswar for past 72 hours.

Sanctum sanctorum of temples are filled with water while priests are reluctant to enter waist-deep water for worshipping deities. Inundation of temple premises is not a new event in the temple city of Bhubaneswar, but this time water-logging could keep devotees away from temple for next couple of days.

The capital city experienced 120 mm rainfall during past 24 hours with storm water making their way into temples and other low-lying areas.

Water swamped the bottom of 8th-century-old Vaitaal Temple in the proximity of Lingarj Temple.

Worst effect of relentless rainfall was seen on twin temples of Sampurnajaleswar and Subarneswar which were under supervision of Odisha State Archeology.

Drains running near the temples were blocked during heavy rain as storm water spilled over to road as well as temples.

Locals said temple rituals could not be carried on due to submergence. Megheswar temple, a 12th century temple in the Tankapani Road area, was partially submerged for past three days following heavy rain. Nearby Brahmeswar Temple was equally affected.

“Unauthorised constructions near water channels around temples have spelt doom for ancient monuments.

Natural drainage in the city has been blocked. Storm water entered houses not only in slums but also in localities inhabited by richer people.

Temples are no exceptions. Water entered quite a good number of temples,” said B.P. Ray, superintending-archaeologist in charge of State Archaeology.

Preserve monuments

Mr. Ray said to tackle crisis, a multi-departmental response should be prepared while top priority should be accorded to preservation of monuments which carry risk being eroded due to constant contact with water. Similarly, several Archeological Society of India-protected temples such as Rajarani and Mukteswar temple premises had knee-deep -water. Water could not be discharged as level of nearby road had already been raised.

When contacted ASI superintending archaeologist, Bhubaneswar circle, Bhuvan Vikrama, acknowledged the monuments getting water-logged as a big problem and said, “the immediate concern is to pump out water from the premises.”

Researchers have different takes on the issue.

They said urbanisation is going to happen and no one can check it, but the government should have foreseen the problem of inundation of monuments.