BALANGIR: As many as 20 pieces of ancient engraved stones have been found from the dry bed of Suktel river in Balangir. The district administration has written to the Culture department to excavate the area further to find out archaeological remains if any.
While digging up the river bed at Chheliabahal village under Puintala block on November 4, a villager Nilamani Bartia had come across a small stone figure that resembled an engraved part of a temple.
When he informed others in the village, locals decided to dig up the area to find out what lay beneath the dry river bed. They started digging up a portion of the river bed and by Saturday, found 20 pieces of stones - some cut and some engraved.
District Culture Officer Bijay Kumar Satpathy informed that while four of the stones were Kandolite, locally called Sahanapathara or Baulapathara, the rest 16 were Ochre stones. "Immediately after villagers found the stones, a sand miner had deployed a tractor to take them away which was protested by the villagers who believed that the stones belonged to an ancient temple," said Satpathy.
He added that the Culture department regional office has written to the Collector and SP to barricade the spot and prevent any kind of further excavation - both manual and mechanical - in the area. He further informed that some stones have carvings of trees and flowers. Historians believe the stones may belong to a Shiva temple dating back to the period between 9th century and 11th century.
Historian Siba Prasad Nanda said the Somavamshi dynasty ruled the region between 9th and 12th century and built several temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. "There is a possibility that these stones belong to a Shiva temple but nothing can be ascertained immediately," he added.
MLA of Loisingha Mukesh Mahaling, who visited the spot on Sunday, has approached the historians of Rajendra and Sambalpur universities to excavate the area with permission from the State Archaeology. Meanwhile, villagers have started worshipping the stones.
20 pieces of ancient engraved stones found from Suktel river bed
Four are Kandolite, locally called Sahanapathara
Six are Ochre stones
Historians believe the stones may belong to a Shiva temple