Bhubaneswar- The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage has submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister of Odisha in the matter of the demolitions that are underway in Puri.
While welcoming the Government’s initiative being undertaken for the safety and security of the temple and its periphery, the memorandum also highlighted the abject loss of heritage due to the demolitions being undertaken, and that many of the old structures can be restored with proper conservation. The memorandum said that “ these old religious places bear sacred significance and are an integral part of the Jagannath culture. The Mutts of Puri, unlike those in the rest of the country, have a symbiotic relationship with the temple and the deities, and have important roles to play in the daily ceremonies and yearly rituals including the world famous Rath Yatra.”
The letter further stated that “these monuments are the heritage of the golden period of Odishan history. The Mutts are the witnesses of our past glory and grandeur. They are the proven records of antiquity, but have fallen victims to the neglect of the owners, caretakers, rendering them unsafe.”
In this context it is worth mentioning that INTACH has done major restoration work in many of the heritage structures in the State. These include the Jobra Workshop which was converted into the Maritime Museum. Many temples and heritage buildings have been successfully restored. The restoration work of the Rani Bakhri and the Town Hall in Sambalpur is soon going to be completed. The Convener of INTACH Odisha, Amiya Bhusan Tripathy IPS (Retd) has mentioned that with modern conservation techniques, many of the old structures can be restored.
According to Anil Dhir, proper 3-D visual recordings of the structures should be made before demolition. The artifacts and records should be properly listed and immediate conservation done. All the items collected should be kept in a special Museum which will highlight the past heritage and culture of this pilgrim town. According to Dr. Biswajit Mohanty, many of the smaller structures can be cleared of commercial and human use, and can be stand alone monuments. These can form a part of the proposed Parikrama, and will add grandeur to the complex, while addressing the issues of security too. The signatories of the Memorandum have assured that INTACH will continue to work with the Government of Odisha to ensure the best implementation of safeguarding the rich heritage of the State.
The Memorandum was signed by Anil Dhir, Dr. Biswajit Mohanty, Dr. D.P.Pattanayak, Sanjib Chandra Hota, Dr. Bimalendu Mohanty, Binode Padhi and S.K.B.Narayan including others.