IN AN archaeological feat, the Bhopal circle office of the Archaeological Survey of India has trans-located the 1000-year-old Chaubees Avatar Vishnu Temple on the banks of Narmada River in Khandwa district successfully.
This is one of the first major monuments in the submergence area of the Indira Sagar Project to be totally trans-located, although the State Archaeology Directorate recently completed the trans-location of a comparatively smaller Pashupatinath Temple in the same area.
This is also the only third translocation project to be carried out in the entire country by the ASI – the first two being at Sangameshwar in Kodavalli, Andhra Pradesh; and other of Kurdi Maheshwar Shiva Temple in Goa.
Though the translocation project was envisaged by the ASI as early as in 1988, the actual groundwork was completed within eight months from January to August this year. Interestingly, as against the initial estimate of Rs 69 lakh, the entire project was completed for a mere Rs 23 lakh, of which only Rs 13 lakh were used for the actual translocation work, the Superintendent Archaeologist of the Bhopal Circle ASI, K K Mohammad, said while announcing the completion of the project at a press conference today.
The Chaubees Avatar Vishnu Temple of Parmara period (11th-12th century) is of historical and archaeological importance, as not many Vishnu temples exist at the bank of River Narmada, Mohammad said. The temple was at Panthia village in the opposite bank of Omkareshwar and has been trans-located to a place near Siddhakut Jain Temple, about 5 km from the original location. This would make it safe from the effect of submergence, the Superintendent Archaeologist said.
The work was highly technical as the temple was first documented and numbered brick by brick, dismantled and then placed at the new location in the exact sequence.
A two-metre deep foundation was dug to provide a solid base to the temple and then steel rods and the ancient formulae lime-brick cement mixture was used to reconstruct the temple brick by brick.
New rocks of suitable composition were used at the spots from where original parts were missing and the damaged rocks were treated before being put in the reconstructed structure.
The fieldwork was undertaken by a team inclusive of senior draftsman R K Shrivastava, foreman Bhagwanta Ahirwar and other technical experts including assistant archaeologists Rekha Radhavallabhi, M Joseph and Dilip Khamari and photographer Chandrakanta Bhanarkar.