Reported by Ranjan Pradhan
Bhubaneswar, Apr 20:
Infighting between the forest department of the Odisha government and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has resulted in inordinate delay in the excavation at the historic Chudanga Gada fort on the outskirts of the city.
In the absence of excavation, the historical footprints lie in real danger of getting lost. On the other hand the condition of the fort is deteriorating without necessary preservation.
“The first phase of excavation of this fort initially began in 2002, but it came to an abrupt end after the intervention and subsequent stay order of the forest department. The ASI has been blaming the forest department for sitting on necessary clearances ever since. Interestingly, ASI has made no effort to get the clearance in the past 13 years. I am going to deal with it on a priority,” said the new director of ASI Ashok Patel.
The over 1000-year-old fort spreads over 1000 acres around the present day Daruthenga panchayat and Chandaka revenue division. It was built by Somvanshi King Lalatendu Keshari as per the Madala Panji. In 1110 AD, the founder of Ganga Dynasty Chodaganga Deb defeated Somvanshi king Barah Keshari and captured the fort. Chodaganga Deb got it renovated following which it earned its present name Chudanga Gada.
Even though most parts of the rectangular fort are beyond recognisable condition, the ramparts of the large wall and the 16-roomed inner house of the queen known as ‘Sholapuri Usha’ are still intact. Burnt rice, occasional human skeletons, old coins, broken statues, pieces of stone with carvings, square sized bricks, large pieces of stones belonging to a bygone era are also seen in the place.
A nearby large pond named ‘Boitabuda’ that connects to Kuakhai, Daya and Bhargavi is testimony to the advancements in river based trade and commerce and irrigation facilities during the reign of the Ganga dynasty. The pond got its peculiar name when one of his boats sank in the pond.
Historical significance apart, the large lakes and ponds dug around the area still provide water to the local residents.
Ponds such as Chudanga Jhili, Chhedagadia Jhili, Gangua Nala, Bada Pokhari, Nua Pushkarini, Sana Pokhari, Kshira Gadia, Kiakani Jhili, Kanjia Jhili, Dubala Chhatra, Routagadia, Rani Gadhua Pokhari, Bhaibohu Dedhasura Pokhari and Pdama Pokhari supply water to the nearby Nandankanan zoological park besides other villages in the area.
It may be mentioned that Chudanga Gada is related to Sarangagarh fortress. Along with Sisupalgarh fortress around the Odisha capital, these two sites have proven historical importance and reveal many secrets of the old capital of Odisha.