Bhubaneswar: The Indian National trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) today released a volume titled “The Prachi Valley”, written by Anil Dhir, which is a detailed documentation of the monuments of this rich heritage site of the State. The book was released by Justice Dipak Mishra, former Chief Justice of India and Shri Amiya Bhusan Tripathy, State Convener INTACH Odisha at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bhubaneswar.
The book is a comprehensive compendium which lists nearly 200 monuments which include temples, mutts, ghats, ashrams and other edifices. INTACH Bhubaneswar Chapter had flagged off the project of a complete documentation of the Prachi Valley heritage in November 2017, with the intention of completing it in six months. However the sheer magnitude and extent of the vestiges discovered stretched the project to eighteen months. The documentation and listing was done simultaneously along with the geographical mapping of the old river.
For the first time, the entire River, on both the banks, was surveyed from its ancient origin at Dakamba near Barang till its estuary at Keutajanga near Astarang. Even though the present day Prachi flows from an outlet of the Kuakhai near Bhingarpur, the original river had its path from Dakamba near the present Naraj Barrage. While surveying the old stretch, many features which include sand beds, dunes, lakes and water bodies were found. The present day Kanjia Lake of Nandankanan too is an ox-bow lake of the ancient Prachi. Excavations in the area too have yielded Jain and Buddhist images.
During his introductory speech, the State Convener of INTACH, A.B.Tripathy, said that the Prachi River Valley is a hidden gem of Odishan art, architecture and culture which should be got to limelight. There are seven protected monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India besides sixteen temples which are under the State Archaeological Department. He stressed on the role of INTACH in the conservation and preservation of heritage monuments in the state and the various reports and documentations that have been undertaken.
Baikuntha Panigrahi, the Convener of the Bhubaneswar Chapter said that INTACH was aware of the utter neglect of the existing monuments of the Prachi Valley. No proper documentation had been done of the edifices and remnants that still remained. Many reconnaissance visits by INTACH teams had revealed the alarming and precarious state of affairs. It was decided that a thorough, detailed and complete listing of the monuments of the entire Prachi valley would be undertaken.
Justice Dipak Mishra lauded the efforts of INTACH in producing the report. He made mention of antiquity and sanctity of the River which also finds mention in the Puranas. The Prachi valley witnessed the blending of different ideologies, rites and practices of Jainism, Buddhism, Tantricism, Saivism, Saktism and Vaishnavism that evolved through the ages. Every religion in its different form was drawn to the sanctity of the river and established their settlements and strongholds on the bank. The archaeological remains, as found in the present day, establish that the people who inhabited the place in ancient times were intelligent, eclectic, synthetic and tolerant and far ahead of their time.
Justice Mishra said that every Odia should be proud of the rich culture, heritage and legacy which they have inherited. Citing Article 51A of the Constitution, Justice Mishra said that the citizens of the nation are morally obligated to perform the Fundamental Duties as enshrined. He said that it was the duty of each citizen to value and preserves the rich heritage of our composite culture. Commending the efforts for producing the report, Justice Mishra said that the INTACH teams were “Constitutional Nationalists” and “Constitutional Patriots”.
According to Anil Dhir, who spent nearly 18 months in the area, the Prachi Valley can be said to be the richest repository of geographical, historical, architectural, religious and monumental wealth. The valley, with its archaeological remains, can be regarded as a veritable museum of Odisha’s glorious past- it has chronological relics, remnants and edifices of Odishan history and culture through the last two thousand years.
Today, the Prachi is a near dead river. It has lost most of its original features; but for four months during the monsoons, it still discharges flood waters into the Bay of Bengal. A few spots in its lower reaches have water throughout the year, but on most of its journey it runs dry. The area covered by the present river is about 2000 sq. kms and the river touches 940 revenue villages in the three districts of Khurda, Puri and Katak. The river can be revived with adequate dredging and removing the obstacles and encroachments. It can be made navigable and can become a very important religious and tourist place.
Dhir said that the Prachi valley holds an immense potential and possibility for students and researchers. It is a rich minefield of archaeological remains, which require proper exploration and excavation. The Prachi valley has languished in ignominy for long, the time has come when proper studies in the missing links are done and its rightful claim and place among world civilizations is restored.
Certificates of appreciation were awarded to the team members who had assisted in the Project.