ASI Discovers Ancient Structure near Lingaraj Temple in Odisha

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) while performing a preservation and excavation exercise near Shree Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar, have discovered an ancient stone structure, which might be among the oldest shrines in Odisha. This structure might be older than the 11th century Shree Lingaraj Temple, reported ASI’s top official in Odisha, Arun Malik.

The discovery is creating a buzz of excitement in the state. Union Petroleum Minister, Dharmendra Pradhan, who hails from Odisha, has taken pride in the matter and requested the Minister of Culture Prahlad Singh Patel to intervene in preserving the said structure.

“The structure must be a contemporary of the Shree Lingaraj Temple, if not older,” said Malik to the Sunday Express. Currently, the ASI looks after 28 temples in the old part of Bhubaneswar (Ekamta Kshetra).

In 2019, the Odisha government undertook a beautification project around the Shree Lingaraj Temple to clear up the congestion and encroachment. The demolitions were not conducted keeping in mind the heritage site, hence the ASI intervened and started cleaning up the rubble to look for damaged structures that may be of historical value. This led to the discovery, which is believed to be from the Somavamshi period.

Commenting on the importance of the structure, Malik said the Suka and Sari temple complex may have been built on the Panchayatana model, in which four smaller temples surround the main temple. “Since three of the temples have been discovered now, we will look for the fourth temple”, he said. “It will be a challenge because of all the demolitions that have been carried out in the area,” Malik added.

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