Pradeep Pattanayak

Athagadapatana in Ganjam district needs no introduction, at least for the people of Odisha. It is the birthplace of Kabisurya Baladeba Ratha, who immensely contributed to the Odissi music. His magnum opus is Kisorachandrananda Champu, regarded as the cornerstone of Odissi music.  

As you enter Athagadapatna, it is natural that you expect to see the memories associated with the legendary Odia poet well preserved and maintained. 

But you are sure to feel sad the very next moment when you find his birthplace is being subjected to utter neglect and his memories in ruins. 
Ask anyone about the places worth visiting, and they will lead you to the palace of Athagadapatna. This 18th century palace is in a dilapidated state, with roof caved in and the entire space being covered with wild bushes. At places, trees can be found grown from the cracks on the walls. Taking advantages of the palace being abandoned, anti-socials have made it their 'adda'. The place what once used to be a matter of great pride for Odias has now turned into a virtual haunted house.  

There was a time when the palace used to be reverberated with the poet's recitals of Odissi music. There used to be sessions attended by a huge number of connoisseurs. But now, it stands as a mute spectator to those glorious days and is witnessing the way it is being treated. 

The local people urged the district administration to take immediate steps to give justice to the great poet. "If a museum is set up, it will be a great honour to Kabisurya Baladeba Ratha. And the coming generation will have an opportunity to know about the poet and his works," observed Ajit Patnaik, a local resident.

Expressing his concern, a researcher Dharanidhara Behera said, "The palace is synonymous with the poet. If no immediate step is taken to preserve it, it's a matter of time before it becoming a part of the history." 

After going round the place, you will be convinced that none is serious about preserving the memories associated with the great poet. You will come across a 'smruti peetha', but it is in name only. For a visitor, there is no information about the poet. 

"Kabisurya Baladeba Ratha has not received his due honour in the State as yet. While a lot of research on him is required, a council after his name would be a befitting tribute to him," observed a cultural researcher Dr  Bayaman Charchi.  

When contacted, Kabisuryanagar MLA Latika Pradhan said, "The poet's birth place is going to see a sea change and the day is not far away when it will be a attractive tourist spot. A plan has  already been chalked out for the development of the place."

It is to be seen when the words of the MLA will translate into action.