The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has embarked on an exciting excavation project at the renowned Barabati fort in Cuttack, Odisha. This endeavor aims to unearth historical artifacts that could potentially unveil ancient connections between Southeast Asian countries and the Indian state of Odisha.
The Barabati fort, a symbol of Odisha's medieval grandeur, is set to be opened to the public as a prominent tourist attraction. The first day of excavation yielded a remarkable discovery: a human face and a fragment of a stone sculpture.
This initiative intends to delve deeply into the 13th-century monument and examine the material culture of these archaeological remnants to substantiate the historical links between Odisha and other South Asian countries.
According to D B Garnayak, ASI's superintending archaeologist of Puri circle, folklore and legends have hinted at Odisha's robust maritime connections with countries such as Bali and Sumatra. The ASI's rigorous efforts involve meticulously examining these newfound artifacts to authenticate these historical connections.
The Barabati fort, constructed during the 12th and 13th centuries by the Ganga dynasty, stands as a testament to Odisha's rich history. It served as the headquarters of the Ganga rulers' Kalinga Empire from 1112 to 1568CE until Mukundadev, the last Hindu ruler of Odisha.
Designated a protected monument by ASI in 1915, previous excavations had yielded limited insights into the fort's history and Odisha's maritime heritage. This time, ASI is committed to conducting a thorough material culture examination of the artifacts, anticipating valuable revelations about the ancient way of life and social structure within the fort.
Despite these ambitious plans, ASI faces the significant challenge of encroachment within the fort. It is worth noting that the Orissa High Court has issued an order directing the removal of encroachments and modern structures from the protected site. ASI has reached out to various authorities, including the state government and district administration, for support in this endeavor.
Apart from the official residence of the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court, which was transformed into a judicial museum in 2012, all other structures within the fort must be cleared for the excavation and restoration of this ancient site. There is also optimism about uncovering remnants of an ancient Purusottam Dev temple within the fort premises.
This excavation not only promises to unravel a captivating chapter of Odisha's history but also opens the door to a deeper understanding of the state's maritime legacy.
As ASI proceeds with this ambitious endeavor, the world eagerly anticipates the treasures and insights that may be unearthed at Barabati fort