INTACH offers help to restore heritage structures in Puri

Bhubaneswar: Days after two century-old shrines were razed to the ground in Puri as part of a demolition drive around the Shree Jagannath Temple, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has offered help to restore heritage structures in the beach town.

The organization, in a memorandum to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, said the religious structures bear “sacred significance and are an integral part of Jagannath culture”.

“The Mutts of Puri, unlike those in the rest of the country, have a symbiotic relationship with the temple and the deities, and have important roles to play in the daily ceremonies and yearly rituals including the world famous Rath Yatra,” it said on Wednesday.

Patnaik has recently announced a Rs 765-crore special package for developing the temple town into a world heritage site. The government, in its attempt to secure the Jagannath temple, has also decided to evict people and demolish all structures within 75-metre radius of its boundary wall.

Two shrines were pulled down last month and five more are in the pipeline, official sources said.

Welcoming the initiative being undertaken by the state, the memorandum highlighted the “abject loss of heritage due to demolition of the ancient structures”.

“These monuments are part of the Odisha’s golden heritage. The mutts (shrines) are witnesses of our past glory and grandeur. They are the proven records of antiquity, but have fallen victims to the neglect of the owners, caretakers, rendering them unsafe.

“INTACH has undertaken major restoration work in Odisha. With modern conservation techniques, many of these old structures (in Puri) can be restored,” it insisted.

Anil Dhir, a member of INTACH, suggested that the ancient structures should “at least be digitized in a 3-D format” before demolition.

“All artifacts and collectibles from these heritage structures should be preserved in a special museum, which will highlight the culture and glory of this pilgrim town,” he added.