Bhubaneswar, August 29 (LocalWire): Authorities have stumbled upon an underground structure at the famous 12th century Emar monastery (mutt) that was bulldozed today as part of the ongoing exercise to demolish all structures within 75-metre-radius of Meghanad prachir, the compound wall of Shree Jagannath Temple.
The mutt was as old as the Jagannath temple itself.
It housed followers of famous Hindu saint Ramanuja but was demolished in accordance with judicial order, state cabinet decision besides the Archaeological Survey of India’s instructions, said Puri Collector Balwant Singh.
The underground structure is yet to be demolished.
The administration has asked the Archaeological Survey of India officers to inspect the structure tomorrow before its demolition. The entire demolition proceedings are being video-graphed, the Collector said.
The underground structure has stairs and could have been used as a storehouse to store grains, he said.
The mutt, widely regarded as the oldest monastery of the state, is dedicated to Ramanuja, the 12th century saint and philosopher.
Governed by Odisha Endowment Act, the monastery provided tulsi leaves for Lord Jagannath’s daily puja rituals.
The pilgrim town was once home to 300 monasteries.
However, with the passage of time, only 78 monasteries function with the rest in a dilapidated condition, said officials.
Raghunandan library, dating back to the British Raj and located within the precinct of the historic mutt, was also pulled down as part of the drive to ensure the safety of Jagannath temple and develop the temple town into an international heritage site, he said.
‘We have retrieved priceless palm leaf manuscripts from the library which was in very bad shape. The artifacts and palm leaf manuscripts will be enumerated and preserved at the Collectorate’s strong room for the time being.
We have requested the experts from the State Archives to chemical treat it for its preservation,’ the Collector said.
The administration is planning to preserve the artifacts for posterity in a museum in Puri.
‘We have already demolished another mutt located within 75 metre of Meghanad Prachir.
Besides several houses, commercial establishment and shops have been razed to the ground in the ongoing eviction exercise. All those who were displaced are going to be monetarily compensated and rehabilitated as per the government’s policy decision,’ he added.
The administration is thankful to people for cooperating in the demolition drive, which started last week.
The Mutt had grabbed headlines in 2011 with ASI stumbling upon a closed chamber inside the core area of the building.
An estimated 18 tons of silver brick-like blocks had been discovered from the chamber whose value was assessed then at Rs 90 crores.
The silver blocks were taken possession of by the district administration and preserved in the strong room of the district reserve police after the mutt chief had failed to furnish its source of accumulation.
The mutt authorities had also infringed rules as they had not apprised the state endowment commission of the huge reserve of silver.