Balangir: Villagers have unearthed 20 ancient engraved stones from the dry bed of Suktel river in Balangir district.
Following the find, the district administration has written to the Culture Department to excavate the area further to find possible archaeological remains.
According to a report in The New Indian Express, a villager had found a small stone figure while digging up the river bed at Chheliabahal in Puintala block on November 4. The stone resembled an engraved part of a temple.
He soon informed other villagers of the find. The locals started digging up a portion of the river bed andfound 20 stones, some cut and some engraved.
District Culture Officer Bijay Kumar Satpathy informed that while four of the stones were Kandolite, locally called Sahanapathara or Baulapathara, the rest were Ochre stones. Some of the stones have carvings of trees and flowers.
“Immediately after villagers found the stones, a sand miner deployed a tractor to take them away. But the villagers protested against it as they believed that the stones belonged to an ancient temple,” said Satpathy.
He added that the regional office of the Culture Department has written to the Collector and SP to barricade the spot and prevent any kind of further excavation in the area.
Historians believe the stones may belong to a Shiva temple dating back to the period between 9th century and 11th century.
Historian Siba Prasad Nanda said the Somavamshi dynasty ruled the region between 9th and 12th century and built several temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. “There is a possibility that these stones belong to a Shiva temple but nothing can be ascertained immediately,” he added.
Meanwhile, villagers have started worshipping the stones.