A number of ancient structures erected by the Mallya rulers of erstwhile Bishnupur royal dynasty are facing a severe threat to their existence and after repeated appeals for their preservation, the state government has finally woken up from its slumber.
In a pioneering effort, the district administration is set to impose a ban on the movement of vehicles on the roads passing through the two royal gateways.
Garh Darwaza (small gateway) and Burra Pathhar Darwaza (large gateway) are the two terracotta gateways to Bishnupur town. The patronage of Mallya king Veer Hambir and his successors ~ Raghunath Singha Dev and Veer Singha Dev ~ had made Bishnupur the cultural and business epicentre and most of the terracotta temples in the town were erected during their regime. They had also erected the Darwazas as marks of their royal prestige besides ensuring protection.
The Garh Darwaza is an arched terracotta structure with a plain exterior. At a short distance from this gateway, the other gateway, larger in size, is known as the Burra Pathhar Darwaza or the main gateway. The Garh Darwaza also accommodates rooms and chambers, which soldiers once upon a time used to store swords, bows and arrow.
These two gateways were erected on the road used for regular traffic movement. The Bishnupur administration, after inspection, noticed that the heritage structures were getting damaged due to the vibration of increasing traffic movement.
Also, the pillars and the walls of the gates were seen bearing scratch marks. Tourists used to drive through the gateways in autorickshaws and fourwheelers as exclusive shopping complexes for terracotta pottery, artefacts, jewellery and Baluchari sarees are located close to these gateways.
“To help protect the ancient gateways, we are set to restrict vehicular movement,” said Mr Manas Mondal, SDM, Bishnupur. He said: “It has been proposed that all kinds of vehicles will be banned to ply through the gateway corridors for the protection of the valuable structures.”
The decision has also made organisations and personalities working to ensure preservation of the Bishnupur’s royal and anthropological relics, hopeful.
Mr Chittaranjan Dasgupta (93), secretary of Acharya Jogesh Chandra Purakirti Bhawan, a museum preserving the historic evidences of the Mallya dynasty, said: “Several times we sent appeals for the purpose of protection of these structures but those remained unheard. It’s really encouraging that the state government has finally started taking the required measures.”