Vikash Sharma

Ratna Bhandar, the treasure trove of Lord Jagannath, may be opened on July 14, informed Justice Biswanath Rath who is the chairman of the high-level committee reconstituted by Odisha government to supervise the inventorisation of valuables including jewellery stored in the Puri Srimandir’s Ratna Bhandar.

Rath said that the State government will be given a proposal for the reopening of the Ratna Bhandar on July 14.

"A proposal in this regard will be submitted to the Odisha government," says Justice Rath.

Justice Biswanath Rath said that the committee reached a consensus that whether the key is available or not or whether it functions or not, Ratna Bhandar will be reopened.

“The Odisha government and the Managing Committee will now have some time to decide. We hope that the government will provide necessary permission to us,” said Justice Rath.

According to Justice Rath, there are three type of ornaments as mentioned in the record of rights. The Temple Management has informed that designated place (room) has been finalised where the ornaments will be shifted. As the temple property cannot be shifted outside, a designated place will be identified inside the temple.

Also ReadWhat all Ratna Bhandar or Treasure Trove of Puri Lord Jagannath Temple has?

“We will see the nature of the ornaments, character of the ornaments (whether 22 or 24 carat), nature of gems. As there are several aspects, the state government needs to make necessary provisions so that inventory work can start. Several teams need to be formed and confidential and experienced people need to be selected,” said Justice Rath.

Justice Rath further informed that importance will be given to two aspects- repair work of the Ratna Bhandar and inventory of the ornaments. We have suggested some SOPs in this regard, he said.

How Inventory Will Be Done?

Justice Rath informed that the counting process is a time consuming affair. There is a need of competent persons who can identify old ornaments which are from the period of kings and some are even 1500 years old.

A group of goldsmiths and metrologists will be formed and it is the responsibility of the Odisha government.

“As the Rath Yatra festival is still continuing, the officials are busy. Hence, the Chief Administrator of the temple has been asked to produce the key on July 14 before the Committee. Whether the key functions or not, Ratna Bhandar will be opened,” said Justice Rath.

Darshan Will Not Stop

In a major announcement, Justice Rath informed that during the inventory process, there would be no obstruction in the conduct of the rituals and darshan by devotees and a proposal has been given to the Temple Managing Committee. 

“There would be some problems during inventory and repair work. We urge devotees to cooperate. They will not be deprived of darshan. However, the darshan might be from a distance during that period,” said Justice Rath.

Rajib Sahu, a member of the Committee, said, “The mandate of the Committee is to recommend procedure, SOP and timeframe and how the work will be done. The detailed discussion has been done and the Committee will recommend the Managing Committee and then go to the government as the state government can only order for opening of Ratna Bhandar. Tentatively, July 14 date has been decided for opening, provided the Managing Committee's approval and order of the Odisha government.”

Sahu further informed recommendation is being made for opening of Ratna Bhandar. “If there is a key, it will be opened with the key. If it doesn’t work, alternative procedure has been decided. For counting, experts will be come for quality check; where it will be counted and what procedure will be followed have also been decided by the committee. All this is being done as per the mandate keeping in view Orissa High Court’s direction,” said Sahu.

Who Will Be Present During Counting?

In the SOP, everything has been mentioned as per the Records of Rights, who will be from the Committee and other aspects and it is in the draft stage, and it may be made public soon, said Sahu.

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