Hukitola British-era storage structure, Odisha with rain water harvesting system

storage structure Hukitola project, Odisha.

150 year old Hukitola british-era

Above image: This 150 year old storage structure (warehouse) on the north side of the Mahanadi was built by the Raj to store rice and other grains imported from near-by countries   and use it for public distribution in case of famine. It is a  well-built  arched building with a veranda and triangular fa├žade. The covered veranda gives extra protection to the storage facility. Walls are thick made of assorted  white, blue, black and green laterite stones, fixed using traditional lime mortar. The roof is accessible from either side  by a wide  stair case that  is supported by three arches, the taller one being in the middle................................ 

Hukitola situated on Jambu island in the Bay of Bengal  of Mahakalapara Block in Kendrapara District of Odisha state has a rare early-British era storage building.  Believed to be a rare welfare structure  which has a plinth area more than 7000 sq ft it  with  six large rectangular  rooms  was   constructed by the English under the Crown Administration in 1866/67 during the the drought season (''Naanka'').  The 1866 famine affected lots of people in that area. The stored food grains would be of great help to the people living there. The purpose of this structure was to  safely store rice imported from Burma and other places through sea route to handle contingency or shortage of food grains.  Way back in the middle of the 19th century itself the colonists introduced better construction technology for storage purpose.  The building and its windows were ingeniously  so built as  to allow for cross ventilation that helped the grain to stay fresh longer. The in-built advantage included control of  rodent attack, etc. The building was built  with stones   transported on steamers from Barabati Fort in Cuttack - a 55-mile canal route, and offloaded on the island. The then Commissioner of the Orissa Division,  John Beames,  in his autobiography Memoirs of a Bengal Civilian mentioned about the construction of this structure. 

Hukitola, odisha.

This  state recognized monument has an  underground  rainwater harvesting system, a rare feature in the maritime history of this state.  Imagine, this unique system was devised way back in the mid 1800s. Close to the sea, potable water was a problem for the workers who came there  to load and unload grains.

150 year old Hukitola British-era  warehouse

The  gently slopping roof made of brick and iron beams. allows   rainwater to flow down to the underground sump through iron pipes.  Specially made cast-iron pipes are used for this purpose. Amazingly, the iron pipes do not show any sign of rust despite the time factor. The superior quality pipes serves another purpose -  to filter the water. The stored water  was the only source of fresh water for the island, according to Mallika Mitra, director of Intach, Odisha.

Since the structure is in a saline environment, it is quite amazing that it has withstood the vagarious of weather and the onslaught of heavy monsoon rains in this part. Fine masonry is the main reason for its long survival.

before restoration  Hukitola British-era  warehouse

Mahanadi and Hukitola project, Odisha.

INTACH with experienced engineers and conservation specialists took 3 log years to  complete the  restoration work  under ICZMP-(Integrated Coastal Zone Management Program) funded project. The  1400 acre small island was abandoned in July 1924 and  notified as a reserve forest in 1979. Today, Hukitola has a rich mangrove ecosystem and is home to two species of horseshoe crabs. Plans are afoot to create a tourist hub by the Odisha government. Initially, it will be a day time tourism, according to an official.