Bhubaneswar: A treasure trove of ancient idols has been discovered at Laudanki village near Satasankha on Bhubaneswar-Puri road. A six-member team from Rediscover Lost Heritage(RLH) group, which is conducting a survey on Ratnachira Valley, discovered the idols while inspecting the precincts of the ancient Gateswar temple at the village, 15 km from Pipili, yesterday.
The assortment of nearly two dozen artifacts was discovered beneath a big garbage heap on the rear of the Ghateswar temple kitchen. The team had earlier discovered surface remains of an ancient temple strewn around the complex which comprised of carved stone blocks.
Team member Anil Dhir said, “The villagers had informed about many old images that ad been recovered during the restoration of the temple by the State Archaeology Department in 1999. These images had been kept aside by the authorities for taking them to the State Museum. However the place got inundated during the Super Cyclone in 1999, and the entire lot was buried under vegetation and branches of uprooted trees. The officials forgot about the recovered images, and they had been lying buried in the garbage heap for the last two decades.”
Chief Coordinator of the RLH group Deepak Kumar Nayak, who is heading the Ratnachira project, informed that the images include a 3-feet Kartikeya image in Mayurasana, a 2-feet Ganesh in Ardhaparayanika, a 2-feet Mahisamardini image, a 7-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, he added.
Dhir opined that like Prachi Valley, the Ratnachira Valley too is a treasure house of many archaeological wonders, most of them being obscure and unknown as they have not been documented. Like the Prachi, the mythical Ratnachira too is on its death throes. 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, has many myths and legends with flourishing heritage on both sides of its short stretch.
He has appealed to the authorities concerned to conduct a proper survey of the entire 60 kms Ratnachira valley and document the monuments.