Jajpur: An ancient-era stepwell has been discovered in Chanditala village under Barchana block of Jajpur district by the members of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), a culture and heritage research institute. INTACH project coordinator Anil Dhir informed that the well dates almost a millennium back. Heritage researcher Deepak Kumar Nayak, and history enthusiast Suman Prakash Swain along with INTACH coordinator Dhir have carried out a primary investigation/ review of the stepwell with the help of the locals. The ancient well is situated on a rectangular area of 120 feet length and 35 feet breadth at the foot of the Sikharchandi hillock at Chanditala village, researcher Nayak said. It has been built with red laterite stones in the form of a stepwell using ancient architecture.
Notably, step-wells with a long corridor of steps that descend to the water level, are examples of the many types of storage and irrigation tanks that were developed in different parts of India, mainly to cope with seasonal fluctuations in water availability. In Odisha, other such age-old wells are found at Udayagiri Buddhist corridor, Dalijoda jungle, Nilagiri royal palace, Baideswar temple, and Koshaleswar temple premises.
But the recently discovered well at Chanditala is the biggest and deepest of them all in size. One can draw water with ease from the well by descending almost 80 feet deep into the well with the help of the steps. Chanditala villagers are using the water from this stepwell to date. The well may have been constructed towards the end of the Soma dynasty or the beginning of the Ganga empire in erstwhile Odisha as gauged by the historical evidence and archaeological remains found from the Sikharchandi shrine atop the mound.
Going by the findings, it is estimated that the well was dug 900 to 1,000 years back, said Nayak. INTACH coordinator Anil Dhir dubs the discovery as a marvel of Odisha’s ancient architecture. For hundreds of years without any care, the architectural wonder has been lying unattended but has overcome the test of time. This could very well be the largest stepwell in the whole of Odisha. But the state Archaeology department is yet to take up any developmental work for the preservation of the well. The well has found its name as ‘Dedhasura-Bhaibohu’ well among the villagers. One side of a wall needs a little repair.
The state Archaeology department and Tourism department should conduct detailed research on the ancient well and take steps for its conservation and publicity. INTACH will immediately intimate the state Culture department of the major discovery, Dhir said.
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