Idols of Submerged Temples Await Permanent Abode
SAMBALPUR: While the Trinity in Puri became the cynosure of the entire State during Rath Yatra celebration, the idols of several temples in submerged areas of Hirakud Dam project are languishing in obscure places in neglect without having permanent abode.
Although it has been more than six decades since the deities were shifted from their respective altars due to the Hirakud project, no effort has been made to install them.
Sources in the Endowment Department said 82 temples including 32 Jagannath temples were submerged by the Hirakud project. However, old timers, who were displaced by the multi-purpose project refuse to accept the Government figure. They said each revenue village in the district has at least one Jagannath temple. Even if one goes by Government records, which claim that 249 villages were submerged, the number of Jagannath temple submerged by the project should be more, they asserted.
Sources said while eight temples have been built to house and worship the displaced deities, there is no trace of several other idols. After languishing in the Government Malkhana for long, the idols were shifted to Raghunath Gudi (temple) in Kamlibazar in Sambalpur town after the issue was raked up by the media.
While some of the idols were handed over to villagers staking claim, many have reportedly gone missing while some are languishing in Raghunath temple.
As Pitapali village was submerged by Hirakud Dam, villagers resettled in Baradungri in Rengali block of the district. The village Headman Balunkeswar Biswal brought the idol of Lord Jagannath during their evacuation from Pitapali. Ever since, the idol remains in Biswal’s great grandson’s house. Efforts are on to shift the deity to a temple which is under construction in Baradungri.
Similarly, after Rampella village was submerged, the then temple priest Prahallad Pujari brought the idol of Lord Jagannath, dated back to 16th century, along with him and worshipped the Lord at his house in Nua Rampella. Later, villagers constructed a temple and installed the idol in 1999. The ceremony was attended by the Puri Gajapati.
The Jagannath temple in Brahmapura village near Patnagarh town of Balangir district is one of the old temples of Odisha. Ramai Deo, the founder of Chauhan dynasty of Balangir-Patna kingdom constructed the temple in 14th century. Patali Srikhetra, located on the foothill of Trikut in Kot Samalai in Sonepur district, is known as the place where the deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra took shelter for 144 years when Raktabahu invaded Puri.
While the State Government gears up to celebrate Nabakalebara in 2015, locals have demanded construction of Jagannath temples and installation of the idols languishing in various places.