A team from the group “Rediscover Lost Heritage”, Friday claimed to have discovered a treasure trove of old temple idols and panels at Laudanki village near Satasankha on the Bhubaneswar-Puri road.
The six-member team, which was conducting a survey of the Ratnachira Valley, came across the ancient idols on Thursday while inspecting the precincts of the ancient Gateswar temple in the village, just 15 kms from Pipli and 40 km from Bhubaneswar.
Anil Dhir, the leader of the team, said the assortment of nearly two dozen artifacts was discovered beneath a big garbage heap at the rear of the temple kitchen.
The team had earlier discovered surface remains of an ancient temple strewn around the complex which comprised of carved stone blocks.
Deepak Kumar Nayak, the Chief Co-ordinator of the RLH group, who is heading the Ratnachira project, says that the identified images include a three feet Kartikeya image in Mayurasana, a two feet Ganesh in Ardhaparayanika, a two feet Mahisasishmardini image, a seven hooded serpent image of Manasa besides an assortment of temple panels with intricate carvings of Alasyakanyas, Brushavas, Nara Vidalas etc.
A small brass mask of Lord Shiva too was found. The antiquities, except the brass mask, can be dated to a period between the 9th to 12th Century C.E. The artifacts have been kept inside the temple and the authorities have been informed, Nayak said.
Local villagers had told the team that many old images had been recovered during restoration of the temple by the State Archaeology Department in 1999.
These images had been kept aside by the authorities for transportation to the State Museum, however with the temple inundated during the Super Cyclone in 1999, the trove was since lost.
Officials too forgot about the recovered images, and they have since then been lying buried in the garbage heap for the last two decades, Mr Dhir said.
The team members included Conservation Architect, Aloukika Mohanty, Subhashish Dash, Suman Prakash Swain and Sitakanta Mishra. The team had earlier discovered a very early stone temple at Biropurusottampur, just four kms from the present find.
According to Mr Dhir, like the Prachi Valley, the Ratnachira Valley too is a treasure house of many archaeological wonders, most of them being obscure remain unknown and un-documented.
Legend has it that Lord Rama had drawn the river to quench Sita’s thirst, using her pearl ring to chart its course. The ancient river, which now runs dry for most of the year, and its valley has many myths and legends associated with it.
Mr Dhir has appealed to authorities to conduct a proper survey of the temple complex. Excavations as the site will yield rich finds, he believes. “A survey of the entire 60 km long Ratnachira valley should be undertaken and the monuments documented,” he said.
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