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Reshmi Panda | HENB | Cuttack | June 17, 2020:: An ancient Vishnu temple believed to be 500 years old has reportedly been found in Mahanadi River in Odisha. The 60-feet temple, believed to be built in the late 15th or early 16th century, was located recently during a documentation project of heritage sites in the Mahanadi river valley.
With the river changing its course due to flooding over a hundred years ago, an entire village and the temple were submerged in Mahanadi. An archaeology survey team of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) said that they discovered the temple recently after its tip partly surfaced.
“This temple has a very old history. It is around 450 to 500 years old. The idol from this temple has been taken to another temple. We are working on a project, documenting the Mahanadi valley, so we were looking for this temple. Around a week ago we were informed that the upper part of the temple is visible,” INTACH Chief Anil Kumar Dhir told HENB.
The temple, that remained submerged in Mahanadi, was recently found in the mid-river near Baideswar in the Padmavati area in Cuttack said Anil Dhir, project coordinator of the Indian INTACH in Odisha.
Considering the construction style of the ‘Mastaka’ and the materials used for the construction, the temple is believed to date back to the late 15th or early 16th century, Dhir said. He added that INTACH would approach the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to take steps for relocating and restoring the temple as they have the required technology to do it. The state government should also take up the matter with the ASI, he said.
Stating that INTACH has so far located as many as 65 ancient temples in the Mahanadi River during its documentation project, Dhir said many of the temples in the Hirakud reservoir too can be dismantled and reconstructed. Nearly 50 ancient temples were lost due to the Hirakud dam, he said.
INTACH project assistant Deepak Kumar Nayak, who with the help of a local heritage enthusiast Rabindra Rana located the temple, said he was aware of its existence. The temple was dedicated to Gopinath Dev, he said.
Dhir, who had earlier led the Old Jagannath Sadak and the Prachi valley documentation projects, said INTACH Odisha had launched its project on the documentation of the heritage of the Mahanadi valley early last year. A systemic survey of all the tangible and intangible heritage of the entire length of the Mahanadi, from the source to the sea, covering a distance of nearly 1,700 km, is in its final stage of completion, he said.
According to him, the richness and diversity of the Mahanadi valley have not been studied properly till date.
According to Mr Dhir, the main deity of the submerged temple is of Lord Gopinath, an avatar of Vishnu.
“The temple is in a good state and it should be re-established as we have the technology. This is not the first submerged temple that has been found by us,” said the INTACH chief.
Locals say around 11 years ago, the temple top was first seen above the water level and since then researchers have been tracking it.
__Inputs from PTI and ANI.