By Chinmayee Dash: The entrance gate of the century-old palace of Jeypore King collapsed. Sources said that the Palace has been in bad condition for several years. Despite the Koraput district administration notice, the palace was not repaired since 1960.
The gate was 40 feet high and had beautiful carvings. The palace is the pride of the town and the main gate was the centre of attraction. However, it has been in bad condition without maintenance. Even though, no one was injured in the incident, but it raises many questions about the safety of the structure and also the security of several shops and hotels located near it.
The district administration had recently declared the main gate as ‘unsafe’ and issued a notice to abolish it. However, remaining portions of the palace were said to be safe.
The palace built by King Rama Krushna Deb has witnessed many changes in the town. The 83-year-old Queen of Jeypore Rani Rama Devi is the only person living in the palace. Other family members are staying in neighbouring state city Visakhapatnam. After India got freedom from colonial power and democracy was established in the country, the royal family was not able to maintain the palace.
The rift in the royal family was another reason that the palace, its main gate, Raj Mahal, Surya Mahal and Rani Mahal could not be maintained.
However, following the collapse of the entrance (Singha Dwara), queen Rama Devi has assured that the entrance gate would be renovated. But the question arises how? The queen reportedly paid no attention to the renovation of the gate despite the administration notice, which was served to her after the palace was declared unsafe for public. Even the administration has advised people not to pass through it.
When proposal was there to hand over the palace to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for maintenance, Rani Rama Devi reportedly refused. Sources said that the condition of the palace was bad and it could collapse anytime. The residents of the area have been demanding intervention of the district administration in the matter, but without the royal family’s consent nothing can be done.
The palace was built after the Nanda dynasty had come to Jeypore from Nandapur in Koraput to set up a new kingdom. They ruled over tribal people 300 years back. The palace was begun by King Rama Krushna Deb and completed by Bikram Deb in 1936.
However, in the course of time, the palace remained neglected as the family members showed no attention to repair it following the zamindari system was abolished. Several properties of the Jeypore kingdom were handed over to the state government after the independence.
However, the government did not take over the palace as the queen and the family members were staying there. During colonial rule, Jeypore was the administrative headquarters till 1870. Later, it was shifted to Koraput. But the dynasty was ruling from the palace till 1952.