After 34 Years, Puri Jagannath Temple Treasury To Be Opened For Inspection

Puri's 12th century Jagannath temple's administration has allowed 10 people to enter the ratna bhandar or treasury to check its structural health

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After 34 Years, Puri Jagannath Temple Treasury To Be Opened For Inspection

Orrisa High Court has been monitoring repair work at the 12th century Jagannath temple since 2016

Puri:  This dark room laden with treasure has remained shut since 1984. Someone entering it now will need an oxygen cylinder. For 34 years, the door of the ratna bhandar or treasury of the 12th century Jagannath temple in Puri, has not seen light. But tomorrow, 10 people will unlock the room and step inside to check its structural integrity under close watch of the temple administration and the Archaeological Survey of India or ASI.

The temple administration has allowed five of its people, two government archaeologists, two experts chosen by the ASI, and a legal professional to enter the room, following an order of the Orissa High Court on March 22 that asked the ASI to check the structural condition of the treasury and submit a report.

All the 10 people will wear only a loincloth as they move about in the room, cutting the darkness with their torchlights to determine the health of the floor, roof and walls that lay inside the long unopened room of the temple.

The temple administration is also planning to take help from snake-catchers as they suspect the dark room could have become home for the reptiles, which could be dangerous for the inspection team who will go in without any protective gear.

"The 10 members would be thoroughly searched before and after the inspection," chief administrator of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration PK Jena told reporters on March 30. They will not be allowed to touch anything inside the room, and cannot take stock of the assets, he added.

He said every member of the team will have to give a report on the condition of the ratna bhandar tomorrow itself after they are done with the inspection.

Those who will enter the room include Puri King Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb or his representative, four servitors, two ASI officers, two experts selected by the archaeology body GC Mitra and NC Pal, and advocate NK Mohanty, who has been appointed as amicus curiae (someone who assists the court), news agency Press Trust of India reported.

"None of them will be allowed to touch the jewellery boxes inside the repository. There will be arrangements for light and oxygen inside the ratna bhandar (treasury), which was last opened in 1984," Mr Jena said.

The temple administration has not taken any decision on whether to shoot a video of the inspection.

The Orrisa High Court has been monitoring repair work at the 12th century Jagannath temple since 2016. In late March, a team from the ASI had determined that the outer surface of the ratna bhandar was in good condition.

The treasury has seven chambers, and only three were opened back in the 1984 expedition to the dark room.

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