Puri: Chambers of an ancient building lying underneath the Emar Mutt was discovered today during the razing of the 12th-century monastery near Puri Srimandir.

The discovery of the secret underground chambers sparked curiosity among the local residents as hundreds of people gathered near the spot to witness the spectacle.

While it is stated that the chambers might have been used for storing purposes of the mutt, many onlookers believed that it could be holding hidden treasures. It may be noted that around 522 British-era silver bricks weighing over 18 tonnes were discovered from the Emar Mutt in 2011.

“There must be hidden treasure along with large quantities of valuables in these secret chambers,” said a local.

Asked about the chambers, the Mahanta Maharaj of the mutt however said that they used to serve as the ‘kothi ghara’ (store room) of the monastery and had helped people meet food grain demands during precarious times in the past like the Orissa Famine of 1866.

Puri additional collector Binaya Kumar Dash said, “The Emar Mutt building was unsafe and that’s why we demolished it. There is a basement structure in the mutt and we are looking into it. Elaborate arrangement has been made with police deployment and Magistrate and all precautionary steps have been taken. After the Raghunadan library was demolished, books and documents have been kept in safer places.”

A member of Snake Helpline said the kothi was 50 ft long and 12 ft dip. “The kothi ghara might be used to store food grains,” he said.

“The eviction drive is going on properly and the district administration is taking steps properly,” said Anil Samal, RDC central division.

It is believed that since the mutt is quite old, the underground chambers also must have been hundreds of years old as large number of reptiles and bats were also spotted by members of snake helpline who first took stock of the hidden rooms after their discovery today.

Yesterday, the administrative officials had discovered various rare and old books and manuscripts during the eviction from British-era Raghunadan library.

After evacuation of Emar Mutt, the administration will also demolish seven other old mutts as part of its eviction drive from 75 metres of the shrine wall of the Puri Srimandir.

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