Boat service to Dhabaleswar shrine stopped

Cuttack: Communication to Dhabaleswar temple by river route was disrupted as the boat services to the holy shrine from Bidanasi ghat here was stopped by the boatmen in protest of administration’s decision of compulsory insurance.

Devotees, who used to use the short-cut route by crossing river through boat to reach the place, now have to take the road route and cross the river by hanging bridge. The district administration had earlier asked the boat operators to provide the devotees with life jackets for their safety.

On the other hand, the administration has made elaborate arrangements at the temple in view of large congregation of devotees from across the State on ‘Panchaka’ beginning Saturday. As many as 16 platoons of police and 60 traffic personnel along with 106 assistant sub-inspectors have been pressed into service. Nine DSPs and 16 inspectors have been mobilized to keep watch on the crowd.

“Barricades have been erected in and around the temple to ensure smooth darshan. Adequate forces have been deployed to avoid any untoward situation”, Harishandra Naik, sub-collector (Athgarh), said.

Make-shift parking lot has been set up to avoid traffic snarl. “A DSP will be in charge of controlling the crowd and managing vehicular traffic. We have made more arrangements this year than the last,” Gurudas Kundu, SP (Cuttack rural) said.

‘Panchaka’ is observed during the last five days of holy Odia month of Kartik during which Dhabaleswar (Shiva) temple witnesses massive gathering of devotees from in and outside the State.

As the shrine is located in the deltaic region of river Mahanadi, the devotees reach the place by boats either from Bidanasi side of Cuttack or through a hanging bridge from Athagarh side. The shrine which is associated with several myths is also a most sought after tourist spot due to its scenic beauty and serenity.

The devotees come here not only to perform religious rites but also enjoy a fair that takes place on the occasion.