Jagannath Temple’s Ratna Bhandar Will Be Opened During Rath Yatra This Year: Odisha Minister

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government will open the inner Ratna Bhandar (treasury) of Jagannath Temple in Puri during the annual Rath Yatra this year, Law Minister Jagannath Saraka informed the Assembly here on Thursday.

Dismissing allegation of deliberate delay in opening the treasury, he said: “Both inner and outer Ratna Bhandar are located adjacent to Srimandir Jagmohan. Any repair work by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the inner portion will disrupt darshan of deities.”

In August last year, the managing committee of temple had recommended the state government to allow ASI to inspect the inner Ratna Bhandar (inner vault) during Rath Yatra next year for ascertaining its structural stability. However, no decision has been taken regarding inventory of precious jewellery stored inside it.

This followed a letter from the ASI, seeking permission to examine and conserve the Ratna Bhandar. The national conservation agency had also written similar letters in 2018 and 2022.

In 2018, ASI’s technical expert committee had inspected Ratna Bhandar from outside and had mentioned about the structure being in a dilapidated condition with seepage from walls, dislocation of some stones and weakening of plaster at some places as observed from the hollow sound on tapping the surface.

Multiple PILs were filed at the Orissa High Court, seeking a direction to the state government to take steps for opening of Ratna Bhandar. In September, the HC directed the state government to constitute a high-level committee, if the Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee (SJTMC) approaches it, for supervising the process of inventory of the valuables stored in the Ratna Bhandar of the 12th century shrine.

According to official sources, the last inventory of the Ratna Bhandar was made between May 13 and July 23, 1978. Though it was opened again on July 14, 1985, the inventory was not updated.

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