Sharmili Mallick

Ganjam: The ancient Shree Jagannath Temple in Khallikote of Ganjam district is in a dilapidated state due to alleged lack of maintenance by the government. It is believed that if immediate steps are not taken towards the renovation of the temple, the centuries-old structure might even collapse.

Locals alleged that repair works have not been taken up since years resulting in cracks in the walls and roof of the Jagannath Temple. Besides, water leakage from the Singhadwara and Ratna Singhasana of the temple has raised serious concerns, said locals.

It is also alleged that even after repeated requests, neither the State nor the Central government is taking any step towards the preservation of the historical structure. Left with no other option, the locals have now threatened to stage protest if the repair works are not taken up immediately.

A social activist Santosh Kumar Mishra said, “People of Khallikote have been demanding renovation of the temple since a long time. The wilds on the temple walls have not been cleared since years. The water leakage needs to be mended at the earliest. We have requested the concerned department for the maintenance work several times.”

A devotee Krushna Chandra Majhi said, “I visit the temple regularly. As the structure is very old, it is gradually ruining due to neglect and therefore the government should pay attention to preserve the temple.”

“Water leakage could be spotted in most parts of the temple. The district administration should approach the CM with the matter. The CM had sanctioned Rs 2 crore for the development works of Baladevjew Temple in Kendrapara. As the Khallikote’s Jagannath Temple is also one of the prominent temples of Odisha, when will the CM announce funds for it...? Take up the repair work with immediate effect or else we will resort to agitation,” threatened a devotee, Kunja Barik.

Devotees further questioned that even if huge amount of revenue is generated every year, why it is not being used for the maintenance of the temple. As per reports, apart from donations, the temple generates lakhs of rupees as rent from the Laxmi Bazaar market complex inside the temple’s premises and the market complexes in acres of land of the temple in Khallikote Town.

“The temple is 300 years old and the second tallest Jagannath Temple in the State after Puri Srimandir. However, due to step-motherly attitude of the government, the temple is in a dilapidated state. Besides, there is no sanction of funds by the government for maintenance of the temple. The government should pay immediate attention,” said Brijkishore Panda, the Chief Priest of the Jagannath Temple.

On the other hand, the temple’s managing trust has assured that the repair work will be taken up soon.

“The cleaning and other repair work of the temple is done regularly. However, the wild grown from inside the wall of the temple has not been cleaned as it may damage the stones of the structure,” said Hrushikesh Rout, a member of the temple’s managing trust.

If historians are to be believed, construction of the Jagannath Temple in Khallikote was started in 1730 by King Jagannath Mardaraja-I and completed by his grandson King Jagannath Mardaraja-II in the year 1868.