Puri Jagannath Temple’s Natamandap Restoration Work To Begin Tomorrow

Puri: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will begin repair work at Natamandap (dancing hall) of Jagannath temple in Odisha’s pilgrim town of Puri on Friday.

While the process was set in motion on Thursday, the restoration work will formally commence on Friday as the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) provided the required approval to the ASI to carry out the operation. The whole exercise is aimed at strengthening the cracked beam inside Natamandap at the 12th century shrine.

Sources said a standard operating procedure for the work was prepared and a crucial meeting of SJTA, ASI, and servitors weas held in the afternoon.

Notably, the Orissa High Court had on Wednesday directed the ASI to start the repair work on Thursday while hearing a case pertaining to the conservation of the 12th century shrine.

Stating that the ASI will begin Natamandap repair work on Friday, Chief Administrator of SJTA Ranjan Kumar Dash said the temple administration has given its nod for the job.

The repair work will be done between 6 am and 10 pm on a day without causing any problem for the devotees and the rituals of the presiding deities, he said.

The Jagannath temple technical team will supervise the work while the shrine commander and supervisor have been asked to manage the crowd on the temple premises.

He said the ASI will install iron scaffolding at Natamandap for the repair work, while temple officials will coordinate with the ASI for smooth work.

The ASI will complete Natamandap repair within 120 days. The agency will be allowed to carry out the work for six hours in a day after the completion of Kartika rituals.

This apart, the temple administration has also decided to repair the ‘Ratnapalank’ of Lord Jagannath. Skilled artisans will start Ratnapalank repair work on Friday, said an official of the SJTA.

In an affidavit submitted to the HC, ASI’s superintending archaeologist (Puri Circle) DB Garnayak had mentioned about receiving a modified design and working drawing for strengthening of the cracked beam of Natamandapa. He further stated that a meeting at Puri, between the Chief Administrator of SJTA and ASI, in the presence of amicus curiae and engineer-in-chief, Works department of Odisha, finalised to start the work from January 20 and complete it within 120 working days.

The division bench of Acting Chief Justice BR Sarangi and Justice MS Raman, which had earlier expressed dissatisfaction over the inordinate delay in completion of the Natamandap renovation work, directed the ASI to start it from Thursday. Amicus curiae NK Mohanty has been asked to submit a status report on the progress every fortnight.

The bench has fixed December 4 for taking stock of the progress of the work.

The court has been monitoring repair inside Natamandap as part of adjudication on the PIL for conservation of the 12th century shrine filed by Abhisek Das, a resident of Cuttack in 2016. In his report, the amicus curiae had earlier submitted that the repair work inside the Natamandap “is very important and catastrophe may happen at any time as the cracked structure (beam) is working as cantilever from both sides. In my opinion, ASI authority may attend this work on priority basis than submitting affidavit on routine manner.”

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