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Urban Toxin For Ancient Jain Temple in Bhopal

    Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), April 18, 2017: Ruins of Jain temple, dating back to Parmar era near the state capital are facing an irretrievable damage from mindless construction activity. Locals are livid over feeble attempts at conservation of the excavated ruins of temple complex, which they insist, is historically no less than Bhojpur or other famous sites.
    Only a decade ago, the area, Samasgarh village, some 10 km from the state capital, boasted of good forest. Towards the end of last millennium, as the city began to spread, the area became an outing spot for people looking for quieter, free-from-hustle-and bustle and serene place.

    Realising its importance, conservationists soon began demanding that the government should step in for protecting the magnificent monument. The state archaeology department’s intervention raised hopes. Ruins of the temple are scattered all over the place, some as far as even a km. Apart from 100 homes, a number of educational institutions also came in the vicinity over the years.

    “My father is 60-year-old. The temple complex witnessed a lot of construction activity in recent past,” said Ashok Balodiya. Legend has it that mystical carvings on these stones are found in other temples of the same era. Originally, there were old water ponds and some wells near the site. Many of the ruins were located around the periphery.

    Around 2012, the state archaeology department had ordered documentation of the ruins, including hundreds of priceless and exquisitely carved statues. “Mostly in black stone, the remains are still in good condition compared to red stone construction around the main temple which developed black spots,” he said.

    When contacted, two of the temple trust members refused to comment. Pramod Jain, a trust member, said, “It is a pilgrimage site. The government has no control over it. We have drawn up plans to construct a building that will eventually house all ruins in one location.”

    When asked about damage to priceless statues and ruins as a result of digging activity, Jain said, “I am not aware of any loss. If some remains are buried under the rubble, they would find place in the new building, too,” he said.

    Trust members maintain temple remains are accounted for. When TOI visited the area, many of ancient remains were located meters away from the construction site. The largely unfenced complex is located under Ratibad police station.

    Some locals said they are unaware of steps taken to preserve it. “The government should protect it, like it protects Bhojpur. Many idols in Birla Mandir in Bhopal were taken from our temple,” claimed a local from Samasgarh.

    Unprotected and unmarked remains of the historic temple have been a source of apprehension for many heritage conservationists. Efforts to contact state archaeology department officials did not elicit any response. – News Courtesy: Times of India

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