Cuttack’s Maratha Barracks: A Forgotten Fortress Of Odisha’s Past Echoing Through Time

Cuttack: In the heart of Cuttack, amidst the clamour of modern life, lies a silent sentinel of history—the Maratha Barracks. Its weathered walls whisper tales of conquests, transformations, and the enduring spirit of Odisha.

Erected after the Maratha takeover in the 1700s, these barracks, initiated by Rajaram Pandit in 1775 and completed by Sadasiva Rao in 1793, initially served as a stronghold for the Maratha rulers. They were not just a military base but a symbol of power, their imposing structure a stark contrast to the surrounding landscape.

The barracks at Chauliaganj have witnessed a fascinating metamorphosis over the centuries. After the Marathas departed, the British repurposed them into stables and a racetrack, where the thunder of hooves replaced the clash of swords. Sunday races became a spectacle, drawing crowds to the once-fortified grounds. Even the notorious sport of fox hunting found a home here during the colonial era, a grim reminder of the power dynamics of the time.

The Barracks’ resilience didn’t end there. As the East India Irrigation Company embarked on ambitious canal projects, the sturdy structure found new purpose as a temporary headquarters, proving its adaptability to the changing needs of the region.

Today, the Barracks continue to serve, though their role has once again shifted. Now home to the 6th Battalion of the Odisha State Armed Police Force (OSAP), they echo with the disciplined footsteps of modern-day protectors. The battalion, divided into companies, each with around 150 officers, uses the Barracks as both a training ground and a place of rest.

Yet, for all their historical significance, the Maratha Barracks remain hidden in plain sight. Few recognise the importance of this crumbling edifice, overshadowed by towering banyan trees and the busy OMP junction. But history enthusiasts like Anil Dhir,  convenor of INTACH Odisha Chapter, are working tirelessly to change that.

Dhir emphasises the Barracks’ unique architectural blend, a fusion of Maratha and Odia styles that reflects a pivotal moment in Odisha’s history. “This is a living relic of Odisha’s renaissance age,” he proclaims, “a testament to the cultural exchange and political shifts that shaped the region.”

His vision extends beyond mere preservation. He proposes transforming a portion of the Barracks into a museum, a place where visitors can step back in time and immerse themselves in the stories these walls could tell. Imagine exhibits showcasing the lives of Maratha soldiers, artefacts from the British era, and displays highlighting the Barracks’ role in Odisha’s irrigation projects.

The Maratha Barracks are not just a building; they are a time capsule, a silent witness to the ebb and flow of history. They are a reminder that even as the world changes around us, the echoes of the past still resonate within these ancient walls. Let us not let this treasure fade into obscurity, but rather, celebrate its resilience and ensure that its legacy lives on for generations to come.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Comments are closed.