Jagannath temple Ratna Bhandar to be opened for inspection after July 7: ASI | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Jagannath temple Ratna Bhandar to be opened for inspection after July 7: ASI

ByDebabrata Mohanty
Jun 19, 2024 05:28 PM IST

The Ratna Bhandar, situated near sanctum sanctorum of the temple, is arguably the most precious property of the temple that contains several priceless jewelleries of the shrine including diamond, gold and silver

The Ratna Bhandar, the treasury of Jagannath temple in Puri containing jewelleries and other valuables of the holy trinity, would be opened for inspection either on July 8 or may be the day after it, officials of the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) said on Wednesday.

The Jagannath temple in Puri. (File Photo)
The Jagannath temple in Puri. (File Photo)

Superintendent of ASI’s Puri circle, Dibishad Gadnaik on Wednesday said the inspection will be done on either July 8 or the day after it in the presence of the members of the core committee and the technical committee. “As this year Rath Yatra is scheduled for two days on July 7 and 8, the chamber may be opened a day after July 8. As members of the technical committee, ASI would see the structural condition of the chamber as the laser scanning done last year had revealed cracks in the outer wall and joints. Through these cracks, rainwater might be entering. The condition was not good,” said Gadnaik.

The Ratna Bhandar, situated near sanctum sanctorum of the temple, is arguably the most precious property of the temple that contains several priceless jewelleries of the shrine including diamond, gold and silver. According to the rules and practices of the temple, all the gold and jewels offered to Lord Jagannath are to be stored in the two chambers of Ratna Bhandar – the inner chamber and outer chamber.

Though the outer chamber is opened for various rituals of deities and the jewelleries and valuables stored there are used during Suna Besha of Lord Jagannath, the inner chamber has not been opened since 1978 when it was last opened for inventory. As per the Jagannath Temple Act, there has to be an audit of all the valuables kept in the inner chamber of the Ratna Bhandar every three years. However, there has been no proper audit of the inner chamber of Ratna Bhandar since 1978. According to ‘Madala Panji’, the official chronicle of the temple, King Anangabhima Dev had donated a little more than 250 kilograms of gold for preparing Lord Jagannath’s gold ornaments. In an affidavit filed in high court in January this year, the temple administration said there was gold jewellery weighing about 149.47 kg and silver jewellery weighing 198.79 kg and utensils in the Ratna Bhandar.

In September last year, the Orissa high court had ordered the formation of a high power committee to supervise preparation of the inventory of the valuables including jewelleries in the Ratna Bhandar, following which the previous government in February this year had formed a 12-member committee headed by former SC judge Arijit Pasayat to oversee the preparation of the inventory of the jewellery and various valuables in the Ratna Bhandar. Other members of the committee are renowned cardiologist Dr. Ramakant Panda, former CMD of Allahabad Bank Bidhubhushan Samal, Puri Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb and various sevayats of the temple.

The opening of Ratna Bhandar had become a major political issue in the just-concluded Assembly polls with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) making the disappearance of the key of the treasury a key poll point. Referring to the key of the Ratna Bhandar going missing in 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and other top BJP leaders during the campaign invoked “Odia Asmita”(Odia pride) managing to outsmart the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

Meanwhile, member of the Jagannath temple managing committee and noted sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik said action should be taken for the six-year delay of the audit of Ratna Bhandar. “I urge chief minister Mohan Majhi to take action and discuss the matter with ASI, the temple officials and take appropriate decision,” he said.

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