Located just 80m south-east of the wonderful Parasuramesvara Temple in the old city, Pabaneswara Temple (formally known as Daitesvara) was my first experience of just how varied the treatment of ancient temples is in Bhubaneswar.
Whilst the nearby Parasuramesvara and Mukteshwar Temples enjoy the attention of many devotees and tourists, the crumbling edifice of Pabaneswara is a sad tale of neglect and I doubt anything will be done to turn the tide now.
The temple is located on the left-hand side of Kedar Gouri Lane as you walk south-east from Parasuramesvara, but it is easily missed as the level of encroachment from all sides by shops and buildings is staggering. What little space is left around the temple is strewn with garbage, and seriously overgrown with vegetation. This temple is suffocating.
Pabaneswara is thought to date back to the 10th century A.D, and was at some point in the past renovated, a process where any sculptural elements on the exterior were removed and replaced with plain grey sandstone. Cracks in the fabric of the building clearly show that the monument is in desperate need of repair and on-going maintenance. During the monsoon season water seeps into the sanctum which houses a Shiva linga, and renders the temple inaccessible for devotees.
The level of encroachment on the temple is beyond belief, little did I know that there are far worse examples in the city that I was to witness over the following days. It’s hard to imagine how the landscape must have once looked 1,000 years ago when this temple was first built, but even harder to imagine just how anyone could have thought, or permitted, the buildings to be erected so close by.
Pabaneswara Temple is so close to other more famous temples that it’s worth taking 10 minutes of your time to visit it, if only to remind yourself of how precarious and at risk some ancient monuments are in India.
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