How do you lose an entire temple? Well, if you’re in Central or South America, it could be covered by vegetation. If you’re in Egypt, it could be covered by a massive sandstorm. If you’re in China, it could be flooded by a river. If you’re in India, it could be all of the above. At least two lost temples, one about 500-years-old, were found recently there? How? Would you believe one of them was discovered by teenagers with pandemic shutdown time on their hands?
“This temple has a very old history. This temple is around 450 to 500 years old. Lord’s idol from this temple was taken to another temple. We are working on a project–documenting the Mahanadi valley so we were in search of this temple. Around a week ago we were informed that the upper surface of the temple is visible.”
The older no-longer-lost temple is in the middle of the Mahanadi River in East Central India and blocked in the state of Odisha by the Hirakud Dam, the largest earthen dam in the world. Built in the late 15th or early 16th century, the 60-foot temple was dedicated to Gopinath Dev (the Hindu god Krishna). The 1050-mile (1700 km) river has a long history of catastrophic flooding and around 1850 the entire village of Satapatana was submerged – but not before some of the temple’s statues were moved to another temple.
At least 50 more temples were lost by the building of the Hirakud Dam in the mid 20th century, bringing the total of lost monuments to nearly 800, according to the Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH) which has taken on the task of recovering some of them. According to Hindustan Times, INTACH Chief Anil Kumar Dhir led the search for this temple — whose steeple emerged from the river recently — and is overseeing its recovery. (Watch a video here.)
Meanwhile, on the Penna River in southern India …
“This has been the dream of the villagers. We had heard about the ancient temple from our elders and since we were sitting idle home, we decided to start digging work to find it. Our dream has come true.”
Archeology World reports on the discovery of a lost ancient temple of Nageswara Swamy, which was built 300 years ago and buried at least 80 years ago in sands deposited by the course-changing of the Penna, which apparently began in the 1850s. The village was moved to the other side of the river and the temple was left to memories and folktales. That changed earlier this year when teens who had returned home from various places due to the lockdown decided to pass their time by digging in the sand (hopefully wearing masks and practicing social distancing). When they found what looked like a temple, they asked for permission from the Archaeology and Endowments departments and received it. The rest is the restoration of ancient history. (Photo of the exposed portion here.)
“One of the villagers started unearthing this temple reaching, finding the Mukha Mantapam. The sanctum sanctorum is much deeper, more work will be done to bring out Lord Shiva statue, and check its condition.”
The Mukha Mantapam or Mukhamandapa is a small pavilion or porch at the entrance of a Hindu temple. State Archaeology Assistant Director Mr. Ramasubba Reddy viited the site last week, promising to insure the structure is not damaged when they take over from the shutdown teens and the real excavation project begins.
What will the locked-down kids do now? With their experience in finding lost temples, maybe they can help other stuck-at-home folks find lost pieces of their jigsaw puzzles.