As many as 54 pieces of ancient temple stones have been found on the bed of the Suktel river in Balangir, Odisha. Some of the stones have carvings of flowers and trees on them. The villagers collectively dug up the dry river bed and unearthed the stones. The district administration was quick to inform the Culture department, which excavated the area to find out the other archaeological remains on the river bed.

On November 4, a villager called Nilamani Bartia had found a small stone figure at the river bed near the Chheliabahal village. The stone figure looked like an engraved part of an ancient temple. He quickly informed the villagers who dug up the river bed further and found at least 20 pieces of ancient stones by Saturday.

The New Indian Express quoted District Culture Officer Bijay Kumar Satpathy saying that four of the recovered stones were Kandolite, which is locally known as Sahanapathara or Baulapathara, while the remaining 16 were Ochre stones.

“Immediately after villagers found the stones, a sand miner had deployed a tractor to take them away which was protested by the villagers who believed that the stones belonged to an ancient temple,” Satpathy said.

According to historian Siba Prasad Nanda, the stones could belong to a Shiva temple from the period between the ninth to 11th century. The region was then ruled by the Somavamshi dynasty that is known for building many Shiva temples.

“There is a possibility that these stones belong to a Shiva temple but nothing can be ascertained immediately,” he said.