Structural condition of Jagamohan, a sprawling prayer hall facing the sanctum sanctorum of Puri’s famous Jagannath Temple, is highly unsafe and might collapse anytime. This is the fear expressed by Gopal Chandra Mitra, who on Sunday resigned as the acting chairman of a technical core committee set up by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for supervision of the conservation work at the temple.
Mitra reportedly quit in a huff after the ASI last week rejected an estimation and repair plan of the Jagamohan hall, prepared by the core committee.
“I do not want to reveal the exact reason behind my resignation. All I want to say is that the Jagamohan structure needs urgent repair. There are cracks in stone joints, beams and pillars of Jagamohan. A mishap may occur any time,” Mitra said.
“Problems had occurred in the Sun Temple, leading to collapse of pillars, so it had to be filled with sand to protect the monument,” he said.
On March 29, the committee’s chairman and retired professor of IIT-Kharagpur AP Gupta inspected the condition of the hall and recommended installation of steel structures to strengthen the four pillars.
The poor upkeep of Jagannath Temple has become a political issue with ruling BJD and opposition Congress and BJP training their guns on the ASI.
“It is high time the ASI and the Union culture ministry wake up to protect the Jagannath Temple,” said senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March and drew his attention about the ASI’s poor show.
“Though the PM directed the culture minister to ensure expeditious repair of the temple, the ASI is not serious at all,” Mohapatra said.
Leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra said the ASI lacks interest to protect the 12th century shrine.
“ASI has been neglecting the Jagannath Temple. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik should meet the Prime Minister and discuss the issue,” Mishra said.
State Congress president Prasad Harichandan said the Centre should direct the ASI for expeditious repair of the Jagamohan.
On Friday, Naveen wrote to Modi and sought his “immediate intervention” for safety of the 12th century shrine.
Naveen described the condition of Jagamohan as “alarming” and flayed the ASI’s ‘lackadaisical attitude.’ He said the state government is ready to undertake to bear all the expenditure of the repair work.
History of Puri Temple Structure
According to the recently discovered copper plates from the Ganga dynasty, the construction of the current Jagannath temple was initiated by the ruler of Kalinga, ‘Anantavarman Chodaganga’.
The Jagamohan and the Vimana portions of the temple were built during his reign (1078 – 1148 CE).
However, it was only in the year 1174 CE that the Oriya ruler Ananga Bhima Deva rebuilt the temple to give a shape in which it stands today.
Unknown Facts about Puri Temple
1 – The flag atop the temple has been observed to flap in the opposite direction of the breeze.
2 – Irrespective of where you stand in Puri, it seems to you that the Sudarshana Chakra on top of the temple is always facing you.
3 – Usually in coastal areas during the day-time, the breeze blows from the sea towards the land and during evening hours it blows from the land towards the sea. But in the case of Puri it is the reverse.
4 – No birds fly above the Jagannath temple in Puri.
5 – The shadow of the main dome of Jagannath temple is not visible, whatever be the time of day. Maybe an architectural feat or the Lord’s desire.
6 – The food cooked inside the temple everyday will not go waste.
Courtesy: The Times of India