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ASI writes to Odisha Government, warns of threats to Puri Heritage Project

  • Published
    11th Mar, 2022
Context

Recently, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has written to the Odisha government, warning it of potential threats of the Puri Heritage Corridor project to the structural safety of the Puri Jagannath Temple.

About

About Puri heritage corridor:

  • Conceived in 2016, the Puri Heritage Corridor Project was unveiled in December 2019 to transform the holy town of Puri into an international place of heritage.
  • The project includes redeveloping major portions of the holy town and in the vicinity of the Jagannath temple for visitors and tourists.
  • The project will include:
    • Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) building redevelopment
    • a 600-capacity Srimandir reception center
    • Jagannath cultural center including Raghunandan library, integrated command, and control center, Badadanda heritage streetscape, Srimandir amenities improvement, Sri Setu, Jagannath Ballav pilgrim center, multilevel car parking, municipal market development, Swargadwar development, Pramod Udyan, Gurukulam, Mahodadhi market, beachfront development, Puri lake, Musa river revival plan, Atharnala and housing for sevayats.
  • The project is a part of the Augmentation of Basic Amenities and Development of Heritage and Architecture (ABADHA) scheme for developing Puri as a world-class heritage city.
  • The project is being undertaken at an estimated cost of Rs 3,200 crore. A total of 22 projects will be executed in a phased manner.

About Lord Jagannath Temple:

  • The Jagannath Temple of Puri is an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath (a form of Vishnu), located on the eastern coast of India, in the state of Odisha.
  • It is believed to have been constructed in the 12th century by King Anatavarman Chodaganga Deva of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty.
    • Anantavarma Chodagangadeva is also known for building the Sun temple of Konark and Puri is considered as the cultural capital of Odisha.
  • Jagannath Puri temple is called ‘Yamanika Tirtha’ where, according to the Hindu beliefs, the power of ‘Yama’, the god of death, has been nullified due to the presence of Lord Jagannath.
  • This temple was called the “White Pagoda” and is a part of Char Dham pilgrimages
    • Badrinath
    • Dwaraka
    • Puri
    • Rameswaram
  • There are four gates to the temple-
    • Eastern ‘Singhdwara’ which is the main gate with two crouching lions
    • Southern ‘Ashwadwara’
    • Western 'Vyaghra Dwara'
    • Northern ‘Hastidwara’
  • There is a carving of each form at each gate.
  • In front of the entrance stands the Aruna stambha or sun pillar, which was originally at the Sun Temple in Konark.

About Annual Rath Yatra

The temple is famous for its annual Rath Yatra, or chariot festival.

  • Images of all the three deities Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Lordess Subhadra are ceremoniously brought out of the inner sanctum (Garbhagriha) from the chief temple in Jagannath Puri.
  • They are placed in a chariot which is then pulled by volunteers from Jagannath puri temple to Gundicha Temple.
  • For this festival, special chariots are built each year.

Area of Concern:

Under the “The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act”, any new construction within 100 metres of a temple are prohibited.

But for the Puri Heritage Corridor project, the National Monument Authority has issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the state government for the construction of a cloakroom, a shelter pavilion, three toilets, an electrical room and a pavement within the prohibited 75-metre zone.

About Archaeological Survey of India (ASI):

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the Ministry of Culture, is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation.
  • Maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance is the prime concern of the ASI.
  • Besides it regulate all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
  • It also regulates Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
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