BARIPADA: Government apathy is taking a toll on the historical palace of Bhanja Dynasty at Haripur village, the capital of erstwhile Mayurbhanj estate. With the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) hardly taking steps for its conservation and maintenance, the monument is on the verge of disintegration and will soon be lost in the pages of history. The symbol of royal legacy, popularly known as the ‘Leaning Palace’ for being tilted to one side, is located about 15 km from Baripada town. The palace consists of the remains of fort and temples besides rare artifacts. Sprawling over 25 acres of land, it is situated on the banks of Budhabalanga river and surrounded by dense forest and tribal villages. Though in ruins, the site continues to attract tourists from across the country.
As per records, the then king of Mayurbhanj Maharaja Harihar Bhanja had built this palace at Haripur because of its impregnable geographical surroundings following an attack by Muslim ruler of Tughlaq dynasty Firuz Shah on Khiching in 1361. The structures that exist on the palace premises today include Jagannath and Rasikaray temples, parts of the fort and the main gate. Sources said another temple has already been buried due to neglect. In the past, several secret chambers, rare artifacts and weapons used by the then rulers and kings have been discovered. There is a high possibility of discovery of more collection of antiquities if excavations are undertaken.
Locals alleged that though academicians, historians and researchers have drawn the attention of ASI and the State Government to the dilapidated condition of the palace, no visible steps have been taken to conserve and preserve the monument.
Harish Mohapatra, a senior citizen of Haripur village, said cracks have developed on the south side of the Jagannath temple and the main gate. The Rasikaray temple is also in a state of neglect as the restoration work of ASI is moving at a snail’s pace, he alleged. The Rasikaray temple is a rare piece of architecture in the State.
Sudhir Kumar Mishra of Jadipal village said if the authorities concerned continue to neglect the palace and the two temples, the historical monument would soon crumble to pieces.
While the site has been taken over by the State Government, the ASI has deployed two persons to look after the palace and put up signages warning visitors against destroying or defacing the monument. However, these steps have been of little help to restore the glory of the heritage site.