''Anu Patro Kothi'' on old Jagannath Sadak, Bhubaneshwar Odisha - needs urgent conservation

Arun petro Kothi (rest House) on Old Jagannath Sadak Odisha orissadiary.com

Above image:  The rest house Arun Petro kothi is on the Old Jagannath  Sadak - on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar city, Odisha. The Jagannath Sadak,  old pilgrim road, used to extend from Calcutta to Puri. In the 1700s and later it  was the lifeline for all pilgrims on their way to Jagannath temple, Puri. It was, from 1825,it was  known as the Orissa Trunk Road during the early colonial rule. .............................

Location map. Bhubanewar city, Odisha. researchgate.net

Arun petro Kothi (rest House)near Bhubaneswar odisha.in/2

Going on a pilgrimage to the ancient temple of Puri Jagannath, Odisha was an important religious undertaking   among the Hindus of  Bihar, Odisha and Bengal long ago and it  had been around for centuries .  In the olden days countless  pilgrims would prefer walking barefoot  the entire distance  to Puri whereas many  others would  cover the strenuous long  journey by bullock carts, hackneys, palanquins, horses, camels and even elephants. elephants. 

After 1825 the old road called Orissa trunk road became busy during  festival seasons. This road not only served the common men but also great saints such as Chaitanya, Namdev, Madhava Acharya, Guru Nanak, Ramananda, Kabir, Tulsidas, et al.  To reach their destination - Puri  Jagannath temple , they were dependent on this  Old Jagannath Sadak which is said to have been known as the Road to Divinity.  Many of them did mention about the road  in their travel accounts

The old road often was  flanked by many monuments and shrines and they helped the  pilgrims to break their long journey for the night. Such old structures were almost gone for reasons of modern life, poor upkeep  and lack of interest in them.

Among the vestiges of the past era  on the Old Jagannath Sadak,  just on the fringe of  the capital city of Bhubaneswar is the Anu Patro Kothi - rest house mainly to cater to the pilgrims to the famous temple.  It has been around for more than 140 years  with improper maintenance and consequently, wilting under age, it is crumpling  for want of urgent repair and conservation.    Once a majestic building on the old road  during its heyday it is in Gadasrirampur village under the Balianta P.S. This two story building  built  by one Anadi Patro between 1880-82  is   between Bhingarpur and Sakhigopal just  two kms away from the Sai Temple on the Puri Bypass road.   

The  builder  of  Anu Patro Kothi  Anadi Patro was a farmer who had moved over to  to Kolkata soon after the unfornunate 1866 Orissa famine - a Na Anka Durbhikshya of 1866 that saw the death of over a million people.  Being shrewd as he was, Anadi Patro became a successful business man in Kolkata and used to visit his village in Odisha  travelling on the Old Jagannath Sadak.  He made a decision to have a rest house built on the old road for the benefits pilgrims visiting Puri. On a few occasions,  he very much understood the   travails and difficulties being  faced by  pilgrims who needed rest  lodging facilities, etc  after sundown.  Being a devout and religious man, he converted the house as a resting place for the Jagannath pilgrims.

The neo-colonial house with ground floor and upper floor was built  by expert artisans - masons, carpenters, etc  brought from Kolkata; it was almost self- contained  with a pond  and two wells on the premises  for the pilgrims.  It was an attractive renthouse with stone-paved court yard large windows, well carved wooden doors and arched entrance. Adequate ventilation and high ceiling made the residents inside  cozy during hot season. Also was built a temple and for years it was well-known spot  for overnight say 

The conservation agency  INTACH and it team visited the site in the past and according one Anil  Dhir, conservationist   they made the state govt declare it as a protected monument of the Old Jagannath Sadak.  He is of the opinion that  the old house is one of the last surviving examples of the architecture of the period.

The Old house needs urgent repairs  as the  walls and roof are leaky during rains and the wooden beams are in bad shape. Knowing the heritage  and religious value of this house the present owners  want to convert it as a museum; he rooms are filled with fine antique furniture.  The owners did carry out some repairs in the past but when it comes to conservation and restoration to past glory, the service of the expert conservation team is a must.  Looking at the heritage value of the building,  they know how to procure construction materials that will  match the ones that went into construction in the past.  

According to Dhir some  palaces and old houses in Bhingarpur are in ruins and beyond restoration. Another old house at Dandamukundpur was completely destroyed last year - primary causes are poor upkeep and vagarious of weather, the worst is during   the NE monsoon (October- November).

Total neglect of pieces of history of an area means we are gradually losing the link with the past. Past is always relevant to the present.  The  remaining vestiges of the Old Jagannath Sadak are very important  for in them is frozen  the culture and history of the State.  It is part of the religious tradition  of  the true bhaktas of God   Jagannath.The government should not ignore the cultural and religious ethos of the devotees of Lord Jagannatha of Puri.