PANAJI:
Restoration of the iconic Saptakoteshwar temple at Naroa will mark a milestone in conservation for the archives and archeology department, as one of the seven architects empanelled by it will restore the nearly 350-year-old landmark raised by Chhatrapati Shivaji.

With the department facing the gigantic task of maintaining 51 protected monuments and archaeological sites, it has formed a panel of seven architects and agencies to provide architectural and consultancy services for its restoration work, for three years.

“We will entrust the restoration of the Naroa temple to one of these seven architects specialized in conservation. The temple completes 350 years in 2018 and the work is expected to be over by the end of 2017,” assistant superintending archaeologist, archives and archaeology department, Varad Sabnis said.

The department was facing a vacuum in conservation expertise after archaeologists and scientific officers retired from the department. Lack of political will in drafting replacements for a couple of years reflected in the neglect of monuments, some of them needing intensive maintenance, sources said. But things have improved slightly with a few recruitments recently.

Seven architects and agencies have responded after the department invited expressions of interest for consultancy and other services.

In the past, the department had engaged other agencies for restoration, but now it plans to take up works on a larger scale to improve the conservation effort. The Naroa temple had been restored a decade ago by Fundacao Oriente, but exposure to natural elements and time have taken their toll on the monument. Shri Saptakoteshwar, a form of Shiva, was the family deity of the Kadamba kings. A mention of the deity is found on copperplates and gold coins of Kadamba kings, such as Tribhuvanmalla and Jayakeshi, as also Degamve stone inscription of Kadamba king Shivachitth and his Queen Kamladevi.

After the Bahmani Sultans gained supremacy in Goa in 1352, several temples were destroyed. But the Vijayanagar king restored most of them after defeating the Sultans in 1367. Once again, the Portuguese razed the temple in 1560. “Sardessais managed to shift the linga to Naroa and installed it at the new site, where Shivaji built the temple in 1668,” Sabnis said.

The location at which the temple exists today was known as Hindale in ancient records. But after the deity was brought from Naroa, Divar, this location also came to be known as Naroa.

The temple committee has also proposed development of the site in sync with its heritage character. “The department will restore the temple, lamp tower and water tank,” Sabnis said.

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