Paralakhemundi Railway Station

The Indian Railways has embarked on a project to renovate the historic Paralakhemundi railway station, which holds significant historical value as one of India’s oldest stations and the first in Odisha’s Gajapati district. However, concerns have been raised about the possible demolition of the 124-year-old structure, prompting experts to advocate for its preservation and recognition as a heritage site.

The Paralakhemundi Light Railway (PLR)

The Paralakhemundi Light Railway (PLR) was conceptualized by Maharaja Goura Chandra Gajapati Narayan Deo II, who aimed to establish a connection between his capital and the mainline to strengthen communication networks. With approval from British authorities in 1898, the 39-kilometer narrow gauge rail line was constructed at a cost of around Rs 7 lakh. The PLR, which became operational in 1900, played a crucial role in enhancing transportation in the region.

Transition and Expansion

In 1902, the Bengal-Nagpur Railway (BNR) took over the PLR, marking a change in governance. Despite initial losses, the PLR gradually turned profitable, and in 1910, it started making significant gains. This encouraged Krushna Chandra Gajapati, the successor of the Paralakhemundi estate, to initiate further expansion of the railway line. By 1930, the PLR extended up to Gunupur, facilitating increased connectivity in the southern part of the state.

The Paralakhemundi Royal Estate

The Paralakhemundi Royal Estate, the largest estate in the Ganjam district, holds historical significance. The kings of Paralakhemundi are believed to be descendants of the Gajapati kings from Odisha’s Eastern Ganga dynasty. In addition to railway development, the royal family undertook various other initiatives in education, irrigation, and road infrastructure, among others, contributing to the region’s growth.

The Demand for Preservation

While plans were made to upgrade the Naupada-Gunupur narrow gauge line to a broad gauge, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has advocated for the preservation of the old railway station. According to INTACH, the structure is in good condition and possesses immense historical value. The organization has called for the station to be recognized as a heritage building and proposed the conversion of the old station master’s building into a museum. Furthermore, INTACH seeks the return of PLR-related artifacts currently housed in the Nagpur museum.



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