Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

A museum is a gateway to the history, culture, and tradition of a state. However, it is a matter of concern that Srimandir in Puri, which forms the central identity of Odisha, doesn’t have a museum. 

Though the Srimandir Heritage Corridor Project is being constructed with a budget of crores of rupees, no conception of a museum in the project has left several devotees of Lord Jagannath disappointed.

Several Jagannath culture lovers and intellectuals across the State have demanded the construction of a museum as part of the project. As per their demand, many sacred articles used in the services of the Holy Trinity should be exhibited in the museum, so that it attracts several devotees and tourists from across the globe. 

Moreover, many others have also demanded to exhibit the ‘Parswa Deva-Devis’ (side Gods and Goddess) and ‘Sarathis’ (charioteer) of the three chariots used during the famous Rath Yatra (car festival) in Puri in the museum.

After it was reported in some sections of the media that the ‘Parswa Deva-Devis’ and ‘Sarathis’ were left deserted, the Srimandir Temple Administration has kept only the images of ‘Parswa Deva-Devis’ inside its office building in an organised manner. However, the images of ‘Sarathis’ are still lying outside the Emar mutt.

“The ‘Sarathis’ of the chariots have been kept there for the time being. There is a proposal to build a museum. The ‘Sarathis’, horses and other sacred articles of the Holy Trinity will be kept inside the museum shortly,” said Srimandir Management Committee member, Durga Prasad Das Mohapatra.

“Museum is the identity of any historical and religious place. Whenever tourists come to a place from abroad, they generally don’t have any knowledge about that place. A museum will go a long way to enlighten the tourists about the special significance of the place,” said Prafulla Kumar Mishra, Vice-Chancellor of Rajendra Agriculture University.

Currently, the Srimandir Heritage Corridor Project is being constructed with a budget of Rs 331 crore. However, the proposed Sri Jagannath reception center and Ragunandan library are yet to be built as part of the project. Devotees of Lord Jagannath have expressed their dissatisfaction over the development. Apart from this, they have also demanded for the construction of the museum.

Responding to the demands, the Chief Administration of Srimandir Ranjan Kumar Das said, “There is a proposal for the construction of the museum. It will be certainly built either in the Srimandir Heritage Corridor Project or on the premises of Jagannatha Vallabha Garden.”