Carved Canopy Of Charchika Shrine in Odisha Restored By INTACH

Bhubaneswar: The worn-out wooden mandapa of the famous Charchika temple at Banki in Odisha’s Cuttack district has been restored, reconstructed and given a new shape.

The structure known as ‘Sunyavahini Mandapa’, which had suffered extensive damage over the years due to extreme weather conditions and lack of restoration,  has been reconstructed by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

Odisha’s Culture department had handed over the temple, regarded as one of the oldest Shakti shrines of the state, to INTACH in 2019 for restoration, reports said on Sunday.

The intricately carved canopy of the mandapa, also known as mukhashala, is the biggest draw of the temple, which is managed by the Endowments department. While the canopy of the ancient mandapa was made of Sal wood, the pillars are of stone.

Director of INTACH, Odisha, Mallika Mitra reportedly said that the wooden ceiling of the mandapa had episodes from Bhagavata Purana, flower motifs, lotus medallions, scrolls and jali work, gaja-vidalas, makaramukha, mithuna and maithuna images, among other carvings.

When the work started, it was found that the entire canopy including the central dome was severely damaged by insects and only the outer surface of the carvings survived. So the restoration work required recreation of the entire canopy by imitating the designs.

Only around 10 per cent of the entire canopy could be restored and the rest  recreated after an extensive study of the carvings, she said.

The mandapa has 12 pillars on which large wooden carved beams are resting. Conically, the structure has six layers and each layer is supported by carved cross beams. The damaged beams, too, were restored.

Similarly, instead of screws and nails, traditional method of joining by groves has been used to join the wooden planks. Seasoned Sal wood was procured for the work from government timber forests and treated with insect repellents. An amount of Rs 79 lakh was spent on the project for which 15 wood craftsmen from Banki, Nayagarh and Khurda were engaged, sources said.

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