Bhubaneswar: An archaeological survey team of the Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has located the ancient submerged temple in the Mahanadi upstream from Cuttack.

The temple was successfully located after repeated attempts by Intach’s Project Assistant Deepak Kumar Nayak. The top of the submerged temple was discovered in the mid-river near Baideswar in the Padmavati area near Cuttack. The  60 ft submerged temple dates back to late 15th or early 16th century, considering the construction style of the Mastaka and the materials used for the construction.

Nayak, who with the help of a local heritage enthusiast Rabindra Rana located the temple,  was aware of  its existence as the submerged top portion used to be visible in summer. The temple was dedicated to Gopinath Dev. The region used to be regarded as “Satapatana” in early days; however, with the river changing its course due to catastrophic flooding, its flow changed and the entire village was eroded by the river. In the mid 19th Century, the deities of the vulnerable temple were removed and installed in a safer and higher place, which is presently the Gopinath Dev temple of Padmavati village.

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 1700 kms, is in its final stage of completion. A multi-volume report of the nearly 800 monuments that have been documented will be released early next year.

Amiya Bhusan Tripathy, State Convener of INTACH says that this will be the first of its type of study on any river in India and is the pilot project of the Trust. A comprehensive survey of the heritage, on either bank, has been undertaken in the nine districts through which the Mahanadi   flows.    

Anil Dhir, the Project Coordinator of the Mahanadi Project, who had earlier completed the Old Jagannath Sadak and the Prachi Valley Documentation, is of the opinion that the richness and diversity of the entire Mahanadi Valley has not been properly studied till date. He said that the teams had made major new discoveries, both tangible and intangible, which have earlier not been recorded. He also lamented that many of the ancient monuments have been destroyed and wiped out, or are in a state of advanced decay.  Nearly 50 ancient temples were lost in the reservoir of the Hirakud Dam.

Dhir is of the opinion that the submerged temple can be relocated from the river bed and restored. Many of the temples in the Hirakud reservoir too can be dismantled and reconstructed.