Puri: The magnificent Jagannath Temple has the biggest Badadanda to accommodate millions of people to have a Darshan of Lord Jagannath during the Ratha Yatra and the other rituals that follow. The forefront of the Puri Temple accommodates the biggest chariots and all rituals of the Lord are carried out in front of the Singha Dwara. For centuries, the place was so specious that there was no problem in managing the crowd and people were having a Darshan of the deities with ease. But with the increase in the number of people visiting the Temple and the area around the temple being squeezed due to illegal encroachments, it is now getting very difficult to provide the pilgrims a better religious environment.
Temple town Puri has seen a radical change in the last century. The number of people coming to the Jagannath temple has increased many times in the recent past. As a tourist spot, the city attracts a large number of foreigners. Also, it has become one of the important economically significant cities for the state of Odisha. All this have made the city a clumsy and crowded one.
The physical infrastructure that is needed to accommodate such a huge crowd is missing. So, an overhaul of the infrastructure of the city was due for years. And the surroundings of the Puri Temple need to be urgently upgraded so that people in the coming days can be given better facilities and the city can boast itself being a World Class Heritage City.
The Puri Temple’s forefront and the area surrounding it are also significant because of the various religious and cultural activities take place there. The world famous Ratha Yatra is conducted in the Badadanda. The three Chariots start their journey from this place. The festivities start from the construction of the Chariots and continue till Niladri Bije. In these days the number of people coming to the holi city increases manifold and the infrastructure seem to be lacking for accommodating them. Hence, there was a need for redevelopment of the area and bring in physical changes to the place.
The redevelopment plans will lead to better hotel infrastructure in Puri by which pilgrims coming from outside will definitely get benefitted. And the management of law and order situation during times of festivities will be easier for district administration with space for mobile police stations, fire safety vehicles and other security aspects.
The famous festivals of Lord Jagannath like the Suna Besha and the Niladri Bije are some of the greatest occasions when millions of people gather in front of the Jagannath Temple. But due to inadequate space they don’t get a clear view of the deities and have to remain discontented. The removal of the encroachments and the structures around the temple will definitely help the administration in providing the pilgrims a better view of the rituals. People can witness the grandeur of Suna Besha without any problem. Also, they will witness the Niladri Bije ritual clearly if the area is cleared and they are provided a spacious area. During Snana Purnima also lakhs of people visit the Puri Temple to have a Darshan of Lord Jagannath. An open and spacious temple front will help the devotes have a clear view of the deities.
The transformation of Puri which includes removal of illegal structures and the dilapidated building around the temple is a welcome step by the government. The Mathas and the commercial establishments came up in front of the temple occupied a large portion of the free space that was earlier available. But with their removal there will be space available and lakhs of people will get to see the deities in a hassle free environment. The government is taking efforts to clear the area so that more than 40 thousand people can witness the rituals at a time. The commendable effort in transforming the Badadanda and the surrounding areas of the Lord Jagannath Temple will bring it to the same league of temples like Tirupati Balaji Temple and the Golden Temple in terms of infrastructure and pilgrim amenities.
The initiative to develop the peripheral areas is also being welcomed by the local people as it will help them in the future. They are very optimistic that the steps will make the city more beautiful and would result in further economic development of the people. According to Bhimasen Mohanty, a resident of market square area, the government has taken a much needed action. Earlier, not only the pilgrims but also the local people were facing problems during the Ratha Yatra. The steps taken now will help our small businesses grow and we will have more space for parking. The government has assured us to compensate for the loss. So, it is a win-win situation for everybody.