Bhubaneswar: A three-member team from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) have identified a wooden inscription engraved about 170 years back in the Paschima Somanath Temple of Harirajpur village in Delanga Tehsil of Puri district.
The team comprising of Project Co-ordinator Anil Dhir, Project Assistant Deepak Kumar Nayak and Bikram Nayak chanced upon the discovery during the survey of the Archaeological remains and monuments in the Daya-Ratnachira River valley. Harirajpur is near Khurdagada, the Fort which was the capital of Bhoi Dynasty.
According to Deepak Nayak, the wooden inscription written in Odia tells us about the 44th Anka (Regnal year) of King Ramachandra Deva III. Inscribed on the carved and decorated wooden block are the words ‘ରାମଚନ୍ଦ୍ର ଦେବଙ୍କ ୪୪ ଅଙ୍କରେ ତୋଳା’ (‘Ramachandra Debanka 44 ankare Tolaa’) which denotes that the temple was reconstructed during the 44th regnal year of the king. Deepak has earlier discovered many undocumented rock inscriptions all over the state.
According to the “Khurda Itihasa” written by eminent historian Kedarnath Mohapatra, the Bhoi Dynasty had four rulers, each named Ramachandra Deva. Of them, only Ramachandra Deva III had ruled for above 44 regnal years (from 1817 CE to 1854 CE), the others having shorter reigns. So, it is clear that it was during 44th Anka of Gajapati Ramachandra Deva- III, sometime in 1852/53 when this wooden Mandapa was constructed by him in front of Paschima Somanath Temple.
The inscriptions are engraved on a wood block which was originally installed in the Bhogamandapa in front of the main shrine. With the wooden structure had crumbled down, this inscribed wood block was kept in a subsidiary temple before it was spotted by the INTACH team.
According to Anil Dhir, finding a carved wooden block in pristine condition is rare. While copper plate and rock cut inscriptions last a long time, wooden inscriptions are rare as being organic, they deteriorate and wither away. There are very few wooden temples in the State which have wooden inscriptions. This temple is very near to the spot where the Utkal University team led by Dr. Kishore Basa had unearthed two skeletons and other archaeological artefacts a few years back. The findings of the study were indicative of very early settlement in the area.
Dhir further said that many artefacts and archaeological remnants of early period temples are found in the area. Unfortunately, most of the fort walls of the Khurdagarh Fort have crumbled and the stone blocks have been carted away. The natural moat, which existed on three sides of the fort is now being filled up. The team has also discovered ancient stepwells in the vicinity.
A proper and detailed survey of the area by the ASI or the State Archaeology should be undertaken as it will yield a lot and the existing heritage should be protected.