Bhubaneswar: Who built the Jagannath temple? Was it Ananta Varman Chodaganga Deva, founder of the Ganga dynasty (1110 AD)? Or Anangabhima Deva-III, his great grandson (1220 AD)?

For centuries, historians and researchers have been divided on this issue. Some go by the copperplate inscriptions that attribute construction of the mammoth 208 ft khandolite stone structure to King Chodaganga. Others cite references from 'Madalapanji', the chronicle of the temple, to give credit to Anangabhima Deva. There are still others who maintain that Chodaganga started building the temple in 1150 AD, and Anangabhima Deva completed it, indicating that it took more than 100 years to give shape to the structure.

On Saturday, three experts who visited the temple gave a new twist to the age-old mystery. They said that the Jagamohan, or adjoining temple, (Mukhasala in local parlance) adjoining the sanctum sanctorum, was a later addition to the main temple. "We inspected the Jagamohan minutely. There is no doubt that the structure (about 108 ft from the plinth to the top, about 120 ft from outside) was not part of the original temple. The construction characteristics and sculptural style are very different. There would have been a lot of similarities had Jagamohan been a part of the initial project," said historian and archaeologist B K Rath.

He could not, however, pinpoint the age of the Jagamohan, but said it may have been constructed five to seven decades after the temple was completed. "It would be premature to hazard a guess, but further study will throw light on the period of its construction," Rath said. "Even the two other structures, Natmandap and Bhogmandap, [adjoining temples], were built much later," he added.

Another team member Jeevan Patnaik, superintending archaeologist of the Bhubaneswar excavation unit, corroborates Rath's view. "It is logical to believe that Jagamohan did not form part of Jagannath temple, regardless of whoever mooted the shrine plan," the ASI official said. "The main temple and Jagamohan have different standards of workmanship. A close look at both structures will reveal this fact," Patnaik said.

The inspection of the 12th century shrine's interior by the team, though said to be a routine work done annually when the three presiding deities, Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra, are away on a nine-day chariot festival, is significant. Two days ago, chief temple administrator Suresh Mohapatra in a letter to the ASI director general had highlighted cracks and other problems, particularly in the Jagamohan, that required immediate attention.

"The Jagamohan is not in good shape, but the situation is not alarming," Rath said. "The plaster has loosened. There is leakage of rainwater. The walls are damp due to accumulated moisture. A few corbel stones have fallen off. The iron beams have rusted at embedding points," he added.

The ASI sources ruled out immediate repairs of Jagamohan's interior. "Removal of dead plaster, chemical treatment and other measures would need more than three months. For this, the deities will have to be moved. The nine-day chariot festival is too little a time to do all of this. We are, however, acutely aware of the problems and are doing whatever is the necessary for protection of the monument," said a senior ASI official.

Source: Times of India           Dated: August 03, 2015