More than two weeks after the Supreme Court rejected petitions filed against the Odisha government’s Jagannath Temple redevelopment project, India Today visited the site on Monday.
The Rs 800 crore project called the Shree Mandira Parikrama project will create an unobstructed corridor of 75 meters around the Meghanada Pacheri which is the outer wall of the temple.
TEMPLE ADMINISTRATION ON THE PROJECT
India Today spoke to various devotees, tourists and the temple administration to share their thoughts on the redevelopment project.
The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) said the intention of the project is to provide an expansive and unobstructed corridor so that pilgrims and devotees can have a visual connection with the temple, the Neel Chakra at the top of the temple and the Meghanada Pacheri.
“The Shree Mandira Parikrama project will also function to provide amenities to pilgrims and enhance the safety and security of the temple and its devotees,” the administration said.
According to the SJTA website, the new hallway will have a main cloakroom where worshipers can drop off their belongings before queuing to enter the temple. Mini changing rooms will also be set up near the south and west gates of the temple so visitors can drop off their phones and shoes. This will also help temple workers who will primarily use these doors.
In addition, an information and donation kiosk will be set up on the north, south and west sides of the corridor. Other structures that will be built include accommodation pavilions, medical rooms and public restrooms. A reception center with a capacity of 6,000 people will also be built for the faithful to keep their personal luggage.
Speaking to India Today, Banamali Kunthia, a senior servant, claimed that hundreds of devotees arrive in the morning and leave at night only to visit the temple. He said that a pavilion would be useful to them.
“Hundreds of devotees come in the morning, do not check into hotels, wait somewhere for the darshan of the lord and leave at night. Such pavilions will help all these people. The redevelopment project will beautify the whole corridor and help thousands of people coming to Puri,” said Banamali Kunthia.
OPINION OF TOURISTS
A group of devotees from Jaipur who were visiting the temple for the first time said that the temple would be even more beautiful thanks to the project. “We are looking forward to the end of the construction so that we can come back next time,” said one of the devotees.
Another Kolkata tourist who claims to be a regular visitor said the redevelopment project will make the area less crowded. “We have been coming here since childhood. Previously, the roads in front of the temple were narrow. There was a lot of crowding and it was suffocating because of the number of stores that had encroached on the whole area. Now it’s extremely uncluttered,” the tourist said.
THE LOCALS TALK
Besides tourists and temple workers, local businessmen who operate shops around the temple said the project will improve tourism in Puri and the town’s economy will boom.
Shatrughan, who handles sales of a handicraft store that faces the temple, said he hopes that once construction is complete, more tourists will visit the temple.
“Puri is being transformed into a world heritage city. It will bring more tourism, and then more business will come here. The economy will boom more. Our store is a hundred years old. We saw the place when it was extremely crowded, now it looks very open and beautiful, which will attract more tourists,” Shatrughan said.
The project is part of the state government’s ABADHA (Rs 3,208 crore Increase of Basic Amenities and Development of Heritage and Architecture) scheme which aims to make Puri a world-class heritage city.
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