Nature’s fury in the form of the Phailin cyclone has devastated everything at the Tara Tarini hill shrine except the main temple on the hill top.
The 965 feet high hill, which was proud of its lush green vegetation cover, has become totally naked with the brown rocky base showing up. Most of the large trees on this hill have got uprooted or massively damaged by the cyclonic storm. According to secretary of the Tara Tarini Development Board (TTDB) Pramod Panda, they included several decade old banyan and peepul trees. “Due to its lush green nature, this hill was being called Purnagiri or Kumari parvat. But the cyclone seems to have snatched away that identity from the hill,” he said. A cashew plantation of the hill shrine at Sholaghara near the hill has also been completely devastated.
According to the priests and authorities of the TTDB, this hill shrine had not faced such devastation during the two cyclones that hit Ganjam district in 1999.
A major attraction of this hill shrine was the rope way to the hill top. It is an irony that it was to be restarted recently after renovation. But the cyclone has caused much damage to the ropeway which would surely delay its inception.
Although the towers and cables of the ropeway are in place, they have to be checked up to ascertain whether they are strong enough after the cyclone. The carriages of the ropeway have been damaged.
All buildings at the hill top and most buildings at the foot of the hill were damaged by the cyclone. No structure has remained at the hill top except the newly-constructed temple which was completed in 2010.
This temple had been built as per traditional Rekha style of Odia temple architecture. It again proved that Rekha style of temple architecture as per which famous Jagannath temple of Puri and Lingaraj temple of Bhubaneswar have been built can with stand major cyclones.
The stairway and the road to the hill top have been cleared up but drinking water supply and power connectivity to the hill top remains snapped.
For providing drinking water to devotees, water is being taken by tanker to the hill top.
Nature’s fury also had its impact on the flow of devotees to the hill shrine. Very few visitors are visiting the hill shrine and their number was not expected to rise even during the Kali Puja, the priests of the temple said.
Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), southern division, Bikash Mohapatra, who also happens to be president of the TTDB, said all the developmental projects proposed for this hill shrine were also stalled due to the devastation caused by the cyclone.
The TTDB had planned to move around a ‘rath’ in Ganjam district to collect donations for the development of the hill shrine, which cannot be taken up now as the whole district is devastated by the cyclone and the rains and flood that followed.
“We are now planning to start online donation facility for the restoration and reconstruction works at the hill shrine so that devotees living outside could come over to help in rebuilding the hill shrine to its past glory.
“Our first priority now would be to regenerate the devastated vegetation of the hill shrine in consultation with the forest department,” said the RDC. The aim would be to plant those species of trees on the hill which would sustain cyclonic storms in future and would not get uprooted. But it is for sure for next few years the hill shrine would continue to have a barren look as a memory of wrath of nature which did not spare the hill which was a major centre of faith.