Conservation workers of the State Archaeology have unearthed a portion of a temple near the 12th century Ekamreswar shrine on the premises of the Lingaraj temple administration office here.
The chance discovery happened a few days ago when workers restoring the Ekamreswar temple stumbled upon the monument while digging earth.
However, they confirmed the presence of the temple only yesterday. Sculptor Nirmal Chandra Maharana is leading the team carrying out the repairs at Ekamreswar temple.
B.P. Ray, superintending-archaeologist in charge of State Archaeology told The Telegraph: “The conservation work sponsored by 13th Finance Commission has been under way since December last year. It involves repair of the main temple as many portions were showing deep cracks. But as the repair needs to be done till the base of the temple, we had to dig in phases. In the first phase, we stumbled upon the small temple near the basement of Ekamreswar.”
Ray said the temple was most likely a parswa deula or side temple within the precinct of the main temple. Usually, in ancient architecture found in the state there are three parswa deulas—temples of Ganesh, Kartik and Parvati—near a Shiva temple. So, more temples could be present under the soil.
“We will write to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to grant us a licence to carry out excavation in the area. There is a possibility of the presence of a greater temple complex, which might have gradually got buried because of rapid urbanisation.”
Sculptor Maharana said: “Traditionally, Shiv temples in the state have a mandap or central stage in front of the main temple. We can confirm the presence of a bigger temple only after more excavation.”
Galpik Pratihari, a sculptor working under Maharana for conservation of the Ekamreswar temple, said: “According to legends, the Ekamreswar was the prototype of Lingaraj temple. So, like Lingaraj temple, there could be an equal number of parswa deulas around Ekamreswar too.”
Many people interested in history, monuments and archaeology thronged the Ekamreswar temple premises to have a look at the site.
“It is interesting that the conservation workers have came across this temple. I hope more such discoveries are made,” said Akshaya Mishra, a resident of Old Town.
According to legend, Bhubaneswar had nearly 3,000 temples. But because of rapid urbanisation, the number has now come down to just about 300. Many monuments are still under private control, though the majority is under the state archaeology and ASI.
The discovery of this temple is the second most important finding after the discovery of a human skeleton near Jatni, around 15km from Bhubaneswar. In February this year, a team of archaeologists, anthropologists and students stumbled upon the remains of an adult human skeleton at a mound south of Banga village near Harirajpur. The team was led by Kishore Kumar Basa, professor in the department of anthropology, Utkal University and R.K. Mohanty, professor in the department of archaeology, Deccan College.
Conservation workers of State Archaeology come across buried temple near Ekamreswar temple on premises of Lingaraj temple administration office
Conservation experts and engineers start removing debris two days ago for repairs (grouting) of Ekamreswar temple
New structure came to light on Monday
Small temple (parswa deula) and drainage outlet (paduka kunda) from sanctum sanctorum are clearly visible
Drainage outlet surfaces to east of Ekamreswar lNo clarity on which temple’s sanctum sanctorum the drainage outlet is linked to
Archaeologists believe there might be more small temples buried under the earth around Ekamreswar
A large temple complex near Ekamreswar could also be a possibility
Excavation could unearth artwork of 12th century Ekamreswar temple
State archaeology to seek permission from Archaeological Survey of India for extensive excavation near Ekamreswar temple
Discovery of temple is second major archaeological achievement this year after unearthing of a nearly 4000-year-old skeleton from a village near Jatni on outskirts of Bhubaneswar