Dwarahat, Almora District: In an intriguing twist of fate, the Kutumbari temple, a relic of the 8th century that was considered “lost” according to the records of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), has emerged in the most unexpected of places – nestled within the patios, verandas, and even doors of the local inhabitants.
Remarkably, fragments of the ancient structure were salvaged and repurposed by some residents during the construction of their own homes.
A comprehensive investigation conducted by the Dehradun circle of the ASI in the year 2000 confirmed the existence of the temple’s ruins, as evidenced by a black-and-white photograph from 1957 that showcased its enduring beauty.
However, over the course of two decades following the study, the remnants mysteriously vanished without a trace. In January of this year, ASI authorities officially declared the temple as lost and included it among the 50 esteemed landmarks that have met a similar fate throughout India.
“Surprisingly, temple elements can be found in several local households.”
Speaking on the matter, a high-ranking ASI official revealed that the local villagers seemingly utilized fragments of the temple’s architectural features to construct their own residences. “During our investigation in Dwarahat, we stumbled upon temple artefacts in the possession of numerous households.
And there may very well be more undiscovered connections,” emphasized Manoj Kumar Saxena, the chief historian of the ASI. Historical records indicate that the temple, along with seven other temples, came under the care and preservation of the ASI on March 26, 1915.
The last documented account of the temple’s existence dates back to 1957 when it fell under the jurisdiction of the Agra circle. Unfortunately, by the time the subsequent inspection occurred in 1964, little remained of the temple on the ground.
Historians speculate that the Katyuri kings were responsible for constructing the temple around the year 800.
“After conducting extensive scans of the temple’s former location, it became evident that not a trace of the structure remained. Consequently, we initiated the deprotection process, intending to release the temple from the ASI’s guardianship,” Saxena explained.
However, permission from the ASI headquarters to proceed with the deprotection is still pending. Senior officials believe that conducting one final survey is necessary before reaching a conclusive decision. “Originally scheduled for May 18, the survey has been postponed,” Saxena disclosed.
He further noted that the stones repurposed by villagers “do not possess any notable heritage value.” The final verdict on whether to restore the stones to their original location will be determined after the completion of the impending survey.