Cracks, Deposits Pose Risk To Garbhagruha Of Puri Srimandir

Puri: Even as the State government has approved projects worth over Rs 3,000 crore for Puri to develop as a world-class heritage city, cracks and white deposits have posed a major threat to the Garbhagruha (sanctum sanctorum) of the 12th century Jagannath temple.

According to sources, white deposits all along the wall for a height of about one metre from the floor level was observed in the ground floor of Garbhagruha. White patches were also found on the upper parts of the walls. Besides, some white fungal deposits were seen on the backside of Ratna-Singhasana.

That the Garbhagruha is in a dilapidated condition came to the fore during a joint inspection of Srimandir’s Garbhagruha, Jagamohan, Natamandapa and Bhogamandapa by the ASI experts, works department engineers and temple administration in July this year when the deities were away at the Gundicha temple. It was observed that the white deposits are mostly due to burning of candles/earthen diyas inside the ground floor throughout the year as part of various rituals.

On the other hand, the existing drain in the Garbhagruha is not cleaned regularly. At present the existing drain is cleaned only once in a year. The water in the drain stays throughout the year causing dampness and it may have caused damage in the core, reported officials.

Moreover, installation of ACs inside the Garbhagruha has compounded the situation. The outdoor units of the ACs are kept on the Jhulan Mandap. Keeping this in view, the ASI also advised against use/installation of ACs in the existing structures.

“When cyclone Fani hit Puri with a wind speed of 250 kmph, water entered the Garbhagruha. Water also soaks from the walls of the sanctum sanctorum and it is now in a dilapidated condition,” said Rajat Pratihari, a senior servitor.

Speaking about the condition of the Garbhagruha, ASI superintendent Arun Mallick said, “There is moisture on the walls. This is due to ACs and water which is not being properly channelled out. The existing structures are not suitable for ACs.”

Meanwhile, the state public works department has written to the archaeological survey of India (ASI) to take immediate steps to address the issues.

“ASI has been given responsibility of maintenance of Srimandir. We have written to ASI to address all the issues. The State government will provide necessary support,” said Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Prafulla Mallick.