Almora’s centuries-old Shiva rock temples, which had titled a little and on the verge of collapse, have been restored. A group of six shrines of ‘Nav Deval Mandir Samooh’ at Banthok had started tilting after facing many earthquakes. The foundation of the shrines also got damaged due to seepage and tree roots growing under the structure.
The regional archaeology unit of the Uttarakhand cultural department carried out the restoration work. The structures 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. They were tilting further with each passing year. More than water seepage, frequent earthquakes 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 a 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 structures. 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 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.