The ‘Ratna Bhandara’ of Lord Jagannath temple in Puri is under serious threat, a report obtained through Right To Information (RTI) has revealed.
The report has disclosed some shocking details on the precarious condition of the treasure trove famous for the popular legends and folklores associated with it.
The report furnished by the administration of the temple in response to an RTI query has revealed that not only the Bahara Bhandara (the outer chamber of the treasure house) but the Bhitara Bhadara (inner complex) is also in a perilous state.
As per data available with the State Department of Law, the outer Ratna Bhandara was opened for inspection by a specially commissioned team on April 4, 2018. During scrutiny, all authorized personnel including the chief overseer of the chambers, the Bhandara Mekap was also present at the spot.
At the outset, members of the ASI, Temple Core Committee, and Orissa High Court inspected the temple walls and ceiling using special lights. The team also took a peek into the inner chamber's walls and ceiling through a grill but did not make any effort to open the Bhitara Bhandara.
The Bhitara Bhandara had three locks with one of them sealed with adhesive, so the team conducted some measurements of the inner chamber by inserting an iron pipe through the grill.
The inspection panel made the following observations, as per the RTI report.
- There are a large number of vertical cracks in the walls of the Bhandara
- At most of the places, the plaster has fallen from the walls and produce a hollow sound while being tapped
- A few wrought iron beams supporting the ceiling are missing
- A few stones are scattered on the floor from corbel
- Dampness is present everywhere on the walls to floors
Based on the preliminary visual observations, the team recommended that a more detailed examination may be undertaken to make way for necessary repairs and conservation activities.
Permission may also be granted by competent authority for performing various tests like USPV test, Rebound hammer test, Corrosion resistance test, and Moisture Content test to prepare a detailed conservation blueprint. The team also exuded confidence that the tests will not repeat nor damage the structures in any way.
However, surprisingly there was not a single mention about the missing inner Ratna Bhandara keys after the inspection. Even more astonishing was the recovery of the keys from an abandoned envelop inside the Puri Treasury office after the issue created a nationwide stir.
Meanwhile, despite recommendations by the expert committee for renovation and conservation of the treasure rooms, no step has been taken so far.
Approached for an answer, Odisha Law Minister Pratap Jena said the government will take necessary action at the appropriate time for the safety and security of the Bhandara.