Moat around Barabati fort to get facelift

Pradip Kumar Das

Ambitious project to make city a tourist destination

Plan to protect all ancient monumentsThe moat to be utilised for water sports

CUTTACK: As part of its mission to protect ancient monuments of the historic city, the Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) is planning to renovate the moat (a ditch of 20 yards wide and 7 feet deep) around the 13th century Barabati fort. The ditch, known as `Gadakhai' in local parlance, which runs about 1.5 km long encircling the fort of an area of 240 `bighas' of land is going to be developed into a multi-purpose water sport complex.

"The ambitious project has a potential to develop the old capital city into a major tourist attraction and its maintenance can be borne out of the revenue generated from it," says city Mayor Nibedita Pradhan. For its close proximity to river Mahanadi on north, Barabati stadium, Indoor stadium, Deer Park, Gadagadeswar, Katakchandi and Gadachandi temples, the importance of the renovated moat around the fort would be further enhanced, hopes the Mayor.

Last citadel

The magnificent fort built by Ananga Bhima Dev III of Chola Dynasty is now perhaps the last citadel of the illustrious monarchs of ancient Orissa. And it is possibly the final culmination of glorious art and architecture of the erstwhile Kalinga. Although, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is now excavating the earthen mound inside the fort that once housed the legendary nine-storied palace (Naba-tala Prasad) and the local authorities are maintaining the majestic gate, the moat lies in sheer negligence.

Even as a proposal to renovate the moat at an estimated cost of Rs. 11 crores was prepared and submitted to the State government by the Irrigation Department a few years ago, no agency has come forward to finance the project, according to officials of the Irrigation Department.

"It's an irony that the moat which was always filled with water and dangerous aquatic animals protected the citadel from enemies for several years in those days, no one is now coming forward to protect the ruined Gadakhai from further dilapidation," says an assistant executive engineer of the Irrigation Department.

Arch-type bridges

The renovation proposal envisages construction of masonry wall, steps and sluice gates to have connectivity to the nearby river. It's also proposed to have a beautiful landscaping with construction of an open-air auditorium to be named after Baimundi, an ordinary dweller of the locality in 11th century AD. Baimundi had fervently requested the then king to construct a stone revetment around the city to protect it from swelling waters of the river Kathjodi, a tributary of Mahanadi that flows to the south of the city.

The project also envisages construction of five arch-type bridges over the moat and the bridges will be named after Nrupa Keshari, Markat Keshari, Mukunda Deva, Purushottam Deva, Ananga Bhima Deva, the former rulers of ancient Kalinga.

There are also plans to utilize the moat for water sports events and amusement like boating.

Plantation of ornament trees along the moat, cafeteria, handicrafts shops and children park also included in the draft proposal.

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