Centuries old Shiva temples, which had titled and faced collapse threat, were restored in Almora (Uttarakhand). A group of six shrines of ‘Nav Deval Mandir Samooh’ at Banthok began tilting after facing many devastating earthquakes. The foundation of the shrines also got damaged due seepage and tree roots growing under the structure.
The regional archaeology unit of the Uttarakhand cultural department carried out the restoration drive. Under it the shrines were first dismantled and after levelling the foundation the blocks were reassembled.
Six temples of the 12th century old Nav Deval Mandir Samooh were in a bad shape. Tilting with each passing year. More than seepage frequent earthquake in Almora and its neighbouring area-including bordering Nepal- had caused major damage to the shrines. No written record of the time from when the shrines began tilting is available, but it is assumed that the process began over one century back.
Chander Singh Chauhan, in-charge of regional archaeology unit, says, “The height of the smallest shrine of the group is 4.5 meters and the tallest is about 14 meters. We started the process some six months back. First each block was removed and numbered. The foundation was levelled and blocks were reassembled.” The group consists of a total of nine shrines. Resetting of six temples was successfully completed this week. Three shrines were not touched as the structures are strong and intact. Now the state archaeology unit will be fixing a canopy (copper) on the main shrine.
The regional archaeology unit is based in Almora and for the resetting project they had to hire artists from Rajasthan. Artisans who had earlier worked in restoration work with Archaeological Survey of India were involved. The project was completed with a budget of Rs 25 Lakh.
The state archaeology department has not done many restoration projects after the formation of Uttarakhand. Which is also indicated by the fact that 36 protected monuments are under the regional archaeology unit (Almora). In the bygone 17 years, the Almora unit has performed restoration and conservation work of just three structures.