Jagannatha Temple's Treasury Inspected



Jagannatha Temple's Treasury Inspected Sans Vital Inner Chamber

An empty temple as devotees were vacated at 1.30 pm 

A much-hyped maintenance inspection of Jagannath Temple's Ratna Bhandar (treasury) in Puri on Wednesday sparked a row as experts abstained from opening the vital inner chamber, which was last opened in 1984. The inspection team only took stock of the treasury's outer chamber, which is opened several times in a year for fetching ornaments for the Deities during festivals. The inspection was carried out by experts of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), some temple officials and servitors.

Curious devotees throng outside Jagannath Temple 

Temple's Chief Administrator Pradeep Kumar Jena, who was part of the inspection team, said there was no necessity to open the inner chamber as the experts could clearly see its structural condition by standing inside the outer chamber. "We found a wall grille between the outer and inner chambers. By standing in the outer chamber, the experts used searchlights and gauged the condition of the wall, roof and floor of the inner chamber through the grille. They did not feel the necessity of opening the door," Jena told media persons. Jena said the experts touched the structures in outer treasury.

"We found moister on wall. The experts will prepare a report on their finding (whether repair is needed in the outer and inner chambers of treasury). We will submit the report in Orissa High Court, which had earlier asked us to inspect the condition," Jena said. The chief administrator, an IAS officer, parried questions on how could someone inspect a structure's condition from a distance.

Servitors, Jagannath researchers and devotees slammed the temple administration for leaving the task unfinished. "I was shocked to hear the chief administrator say that the experts inspected inner chamber from a distance. Why did the administration make massive arrangements and frame a standard operating procedure? How can you inspect the structure without opening the door or going close to it," asked noted researcher Prafulla Rath.

Some servitors and members of Jagannath Sena, a social outfit, staged a demonstration outside the temple, protesting the faulty inspection. "What was the necessity of conducting the inspection if the experts did not open the inner chamber. If at all they did, they should not have left it half-done. They played with the emotions of people," asked servitor Damodar Mahasuar.

One of the members of Ratna Bhandar inspection team reaches Jagannath Temple 

Earlier, a total 10 persons were authorized to conduct the inspection, but the temple administration on Wednesday included names of seven others, including Chief Administrator Pradeep Jena, District Collector Aravinda Agarwal and SP Sarthak Sarangi. However, total 16 persons entered Ratna Bhandar as Sarangi refused to be part of the team. Sources said one of the team members stumbled inside the dark room of the outer Bhandar and sustained minor injury.

Apprehending presence of snakes and obnoxious gas in the inner chamber, the district administration had mobilised trained snake catchers, doctors with anti-venom and oxygen cylinders and rescue personnel of Odisha fire service inside the temple, which remained closed for nearly two hours, from 1:30 p.m. for devotees. "We feel that the members purposely did not open the inner chamber as they were scared over the folklores that spoke of snakes guarding the secret chamber," said Janma Mahapatra, a pilgrim.

Security personnel inside Jagannath Temple for smooth conduct of Ratna Bhandar inspection