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Excavation of Raibania Fort : Odisha govt’s indifference surprising

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Jaleswar (Baleswar), Apr 21:

While the Kolkata University is keen on resuming the  excavation work at the historic Raibania fort in Jaleswar block in Baleswar district, the prolonged silence of the Odisha government over the project has been perplexing archaeologists and historians alike.

Not only the state government, even the Centre has not shown any interest in the proposed excavation work despite a series of demands by historians and local people.

Remnants of 13th century Raibania Fort
Remnants of 13th century Raibania Fort

Sources in the Odisha government said the excavation work of the fort has been stalled due to financial crunch.

Considered to have been among the most famous forts in eastern India, Raibania is surrounded by river Subarnarekha on three sides.

The fort, much bigger in size than the Barabati fort in Cuttack, was built by the famous 13th century Odisha king Langula Narasimha Dev-I (1238–1264 AD) of the Ganga dynasty to protect his kingdom from external attack. The legendary king is also credited with building the Sun Temple in Konark and Khirachora Gopinath Temple in Remuna.

Raibania fort was later taken over by the Moghuls, Afghan and Marhattas rulers after the fall of the Ganga dynasty .

The historians and archeologists are of the opinion that excavation of the fort and its surrounding areas would reveal a whole lot of valuable information on the period and shed light on the little known aspects social, economic and political life in Odisha between the 13th  and 15th century.

It may be mentioned that several metal and copper coins which were discovered near the fort area have been preserved at the Odisha State Museum.

Though attempts have been made earlier to take up full-fledged excavation work, it has been severely affected by both shortage of funds and a distinct lack of interest on the part of the state government to take it forward.

However, with the initiative of well-known historian and researcher Dr Srikant Charan Patra, a team of researchers of the department of Archaeology of the Kolkata University led by Dr Ashok Dutta had taken up the excavation work in 2010 for which the University authorities had sanctioned Rs 5 lakh.

The work stopped after the funds ran dry. Since then, the excavation work has never resumed.

Recently, another team from Kolkata University, during its visit to Baleswar, had taken up the matter with the district administration. But there is little information on what transpired during the meeting and its outcome.

The people of Raibania have been demanding not only a full-fledged excavation of the fort but also the protection and renovation of 74 ponds in and around the fort premises as well as Maa Gadachandi temple. But all that has fallen on deaf ears, as it were.

The fresh initiative by the Kolkata University towards resumption of excavation of this significant historical monument, has surely put the so-called ‘culturally sensitive’ government in the state to a lot of embarrassment over its indifference to a project of such great significance to Odisha’s history.