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With the death of Mukunda Deva, the last independent Gajapati King in 1568 AD, Odisha passed into the hands of Afghan rulers of Bengal and for a long time, anarchy prevailed. However, Ramachandra Routray, son of an army chieftain Janardan Routray seized the opportunity and carved out a kingdom with headquarters at Khurdha. He declared himself as an independent sovereign monarch of Odisha under the name Ramachandra Deva. He was also recognised as the hereditary superintendent of the Jagannatha temple by Man Singh, on behalf of the Mughal emperor Akbar and was allowed him to use the prestigious titles of Gajapati King.

During the Afghan conquest of Odisha, a general of Afghan army, infamously known as Kalapahada had attacked Jagannatha temple. Though at the behest of Dibyasingha Patnaik, the Parichha, the priest and inhabitants of Puri carried the wooden images of the Lord towards Chilika lake. Kalapahada proceeded to carry the wooden images away and set them on fire. When Ramachandra Deva became the ruler of Khurdha Kingdom, he got new wooden images of the deities constructed as per the procedure of Nabakalebara (new embodiment) and re-installed them at Puri temple. Regular rituals including offering of cooked food (Anna Mahaprasada) and observance of all the festivals were revived. Ramachandra Deva was therefore regarded as ‘Second Indradyumna’.

Things passed off almost smoothly till Emperor Akbar died in 1605 AD. But trouble started after Emperor Jahangir ascended the throne of Delhi. During his period and after, Jagannatha temple once again witnessed several attacks. After the demise of Ramachandra Deva in 1600 AD, the rule of Purushottama Deva II (1608-1621 AD) also had witnessed similar invasions. However during the rule of Emperor Shah Jahan, the temple of Jagannatha was spared from Mughal attacks. But with the ascendance of the throne of Aurangzeb, the trouble relapsed. Even he had ordered the subedar of Bengal, Ekram Khan to demolish the temple of Jagannatha. However, Dibyasingha Deva (1688-1716), the then Gajapati King, tactfully saved the temple and shifted the Lords to a safer place. It was during the subedarship of Murshid Quli Khan that the worship of Jagannatha was restored at Puri.

The Gajapati Kings of Khurdha then ruled peacefully and there was no attack on the Lord or the temple for a long time. However Taqi Khan, the Naib Nazim of Odisha appointed by the then Nazim of Bengal in 1727 AD, had attacked Khurdha to plunder the Kingdom. At that time Ramachandra Deva II (1727-1736 AD) was the Gajapati King. He had to displace Jagannatha. The attack on the temple and Jagannatha ultimately came to an end with his demise of Taqi Khan in 1735 AD. With the assumption of office of Mir Habib as Naib Nazim by Murshid Quli Khan, the images of the Lords were brought back to the temple. Ultimately the Muhammadan danger came to an end. Read More