Main entrance of Jeypore king palace collapses

Jeypore: The brick and mortar structure supporting the main gate of century-old Jeypore King`s palace in Odisha, a tourist attraction, collapsed on Sunday after being in a dilapidated state for several years, police said.

The Koraput district administration had recently declared the main entrance as `unsafe` and advised the people against passing through it, Sub-divisional Police Officer (SDPO), Jeypore, Utkal Das said.

No one was injured in the incident and steps were being taken to clear the debris, he said.

The palace, built by King Rama Krushna Deb, is the pride of the town and its main gate, a centre of attraction.

After abolition of the princely states by the government, the royal family was unable to maintain the structure properly.

The only occupant in the sprawling palace is Rani Rama Devi. The octogenerian queen`s other surviving relations, including grand children, stay at Visakhapatnam.

In 2011, after noticing that the condition of the main entrance was in a bad shape, the Koraput district administration had issued notice to demolish it, while the remaining portions of the palace were said to be safe, official sources said.

However, Rama Devi had assured that the entrance portion would be repaired but the status quo continued.

After the main entrance caved in today, sub-collector Birendra Kerkera met Rama Devi and her advocate and discussed as to what steps the royal family was taking now.

Seeking intervention of the district administration in the matter, Rama Devi gave it a free hand to take necessary steps for restoring the entrance, Kerkera said.

Kerkera said personnel from Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and the fire brigade were being engaged to clear the remains of the structure.

Meanwhile, arrangements were being made to allow the students of a private school, functioning in a separate tin-roofed structure inside the palace premises, to attend classes through the south gate.

Asked as to whether there was any move to handover the palace to the government for its maintenance, Kerkera replied in the negative stating it was a private property and no such request had come from the royal family.

After the death of last crown king of Jeypore Ram Krushna Dev about five years ago, the queen was staying alone in the palace.

Jeypore, meaning the city of victory, was the capital of Shri Vira Bikram Deb who ruled from 1637 to 1669. During colonial rule, Jeypore was the administrative headquarters till 1870 after which the capital was shifted to Koraput.