Study Throws New Light On Old Jagannath Sadak in West Bengal

Kolkata: The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), West Bengal and Odisha Chapters, released the ‘Listing and Documenting the Monuments of the Jagannath Sadak in West Bengal’ at Indian Museum here on Sunday.

The project, launched in November 2015, was flagged off by Governor of West Bengal. In July 2014, INTACH released the ‘Listing of the Monuments of the Old Jagannath Sadak on the Odisha stretch’ at Bhubaneswar. The report listed 200 Monuments of the old road, starting from Jaleswar to Puri.

The West Bengal Report was released by the Chairman of INTACH Major General L K Gupta (retired) along with director of Indian Museum Rajesh Purohit. Speaking on the occasion, State Convener of INTACH Odisha Amiya Bhusan Tripathy said the relevance and importance of this ancient road has not been highlighted. He said the heritage of this pilgrim road and its importance in spreading the cult of Jagannath all over the country has been overlooked in history. Nearly 400 monuments have been listed in the three-volume report, which includes 400 maps and 1000 photographs. Tripathy said the listing did not have only Hindu temples; 7 Mosques, 4 Gurudwaras and 6 Churches too have been listed as they had associational significance with the Old Sadak and its pilgrims.

State Convener of INTACH , West Bengal, G N Kapur said efforts will be made to conserve and preserve the remnants of the Old Sadak in West Bengal.

Purohit highlighted the rich heritage of eastern India, especially Bengal and Odisha, and the manner in which they were intertwined. He lauded the efforts of INTACH in producing the report and said it was an empirical study. Gupta stressed the need for documenting both the tangible and intangible heritage of the country. He said INTACH has been accorded the status as a centre of excellence and spoke of its role in conservation and preservation of heritage sites all over the country. The need of the hour was creating awareness about heritage and culture, which INTACH is actively promoting by its outreach programmes and its various chapters all over the country.

Project coordinator Anil Dhir gave a talk on the project and the various aspects of the synthesis of the Bengal and Odishan cultures. He spoke about the relevance of Sri Chaitanya and the Guadiya Vaishnavites in the making of the road and the various mutts that are scattered all over the Old Sadak. The visits of many holy saints including Guru Nanak, Namdev, Ramananda, Tulsidas, Mahdava Acharya and Kabir have left behind indelible traces on the old road. While preparing the report many old travel accounts of the Persian, Arabic , English, French and Dutch travelers were discovered. Besides being a pilgrim trail, the road was also an important trade route with various amenities for the travelers. Of the 512 km of the original road, only 168 km is still intact, the rest of it has been encroached upon by the highway and the railways.

Dhir said unlike Odisha, West Bengal had three different roads, all of which culminated at Dantan on the Odisha border. Different routes were taken by Guru Nanak and Sri Chaitanya, while the sea route from Tamluk, the ancient Tamralipti too was prominent.

Several dignitaries from Odisha and West Bengal like Sanjib Hota, Kulamoni Deo, S.K.B Narayan, Pradyumna Satapathy, Bata Kishore Tripathy, Ananta Mohapatra, Baikunth Panigrahi and others attended the function.

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