Bhubaneswar, Jul 28 (PTI) Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has urged his Cabinet colleague and Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy to direct the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to undertake the preservation of Swapneswar Mahadev Temple and other heritage monuments recently found in Ratnachira valley in Puri district. Pradhan in a letter to Reddy on Tuesday said: "Keeping in immense historical, spiritual and socio-cultural importance of the Swapneswar Mahadev Temple and heritage monuments in Ratnachira valley, I seek your personal intervention in directing the ASI to undertake all possible measures for preservation of this ancient temple and also documentation and conservation of other heritage monuments in Ratnachira valley." The Union Education minister said the temple was estimated to be 1,300-1,400 years old and one of the best-preserved examples of early Kalingan architecture in the region.

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) had unearthed the ruins of the temple at Biropurusottampur in Pipili area, around 40 km north of Puri city.

The team found the structure, which can be one of the earliest temples of the post-Gupta period and may date back to the 6th-7th century Common Era, during a survey of the Ratnachira valley and its monuments.

"Ratnachira Valley is a gold mine of ancient Kalingan monuments, most of which were undocumented till recently," Pradhan said.

Legend has it that Lord Rama had drawn the Ratnachira river to quench Goddess Sita's thirst, using her pearl ring to chart its course, according to the Union Education minister.

The temple is locally revered as Swapneswar Mahadev and dedicated to Lord Shiva, he said, adding that, "however, I am distressed to learn that the temple structure is in a precarious state and in need of immediate preservation measures."