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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Once a cradle of educationists and academicians, the two- centuries old Maharaj Purna Chandra (MPC) College in the northern Odisha town of Baripada in Mayurbhanj languishes in utter neglect.

The dilapidated condition of the college building which was actually the palace of the erstwhile Bhanja kings of Mayurbhanj cries for help.

Built in 1804 by the Queen of Mayurbhanj, Sumitra Devi, the sprawling 126 room Victorian structure was made on the designs of the Buckingham Palace in England. All kings of the Bhanja dynasty- from Maharaja Krushna Chandra Bhanjadeo to Sriram Chandra Bhanjadeo and Pratap Chandra Bhanjadeo-, ruled from this very palace making it the hub of Mayurbhanj political activities for nearly two centuries.

King Pratap Chandra Bhanjadeo offered this palace to the government to use it as an educational hub in a bid to spread education in his kingdom.

However, the leaking roofs of the classrooms, creepers, and fungus spread all over the damp walls speak volumes about the neglect the historic college has been subjected to over the decades.

Subhankar Sahu, the Principal of the College said, “I have obtained a safety certificate from the Executive Engineer of PWD and R&B in which it was expressly mentioned that five portions of the building are unsafe and it should be given monumental or heritage status.”

In fact, the State government has already declared five portions of the building as dangerous and advised against using them. These include the Statistics department, Zoolozy department, Physics department, storeroom, lecturer’s common room and the boy’s hostel.

Bibhu Prasad Das, an alumnus of the prestigious college said, “The college should have been taken care of as a heritage structure in order to preserve its historic value.”

Maharaja Praveen Bhanjadeo, the sitting King of the dynasty said, “If the State government cares to hand over the palace to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), given its immense historic value, its lifespan can be increased substantially and it can be saved from being ruined.”

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