Part of the chardham pilgrim centres situated in the four corners of the country, Puri – the abode of Lord Jagannath – is one of the most revered and holiest places since ages. The Jagannath temple, seat of Govardhana Pitham, was built by the Ganga dynasty rulers. Centuries have passed and with the time, the tiny seaside hermitage of Puri has been transformed into an urban neighborhood. Its infrastructure is tested every year when millions descend to witness the world famous Ratha Yatra of Lord Jagannath. Tourists also flock to the pristine beaches of Puri and nearby tourist attractions in Konark, Bhubaneshwar and Chilka. Changing times demanded that the holy city transforms into a more reachable and beautiful pilgrim centre. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has started an ambitious project to transform Puri into a World Heritage City. Talking about the vision behind Puri’s heritage corridor project Pradeep Kumar Jena, IAS, Development Commissioner, Government of Odisha told Financial Express Online, “The Puri Heritage Corridor Project was conceived in 2016 and unveiled in December 2019 with the aim to transform the holy town of Puri into an international heritage center. The foundation stone was recently laid for the project.”
“The project includes redeveloping major portions of the holy town and in the vicinity of the temple for visitors and tourists. Like our hon’ble Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik says that the greatest identity of Odia community is Lord Jagannath. All devotees, who come to the Jagannath temple in Puri to see the Lord, have a desire in their hearts to behold the deities in a calm, beautiful and spiritual environment. It is the responsibility of all of us to come back with a divine feeling”, he added.
The Srimandir Heritage Corridor Project: Cost and Facilities
Known as Srimandir Heritage Corridor Project or the Puri Srimandir Parikrama Project, the development work is the most important and major development in Puri in the last few centuries. The estimated cost of its first phase is around Rs 800 crore.
The Heritage Corridor Project entails the development of the following facilities:
– 75 meters corridor around the Jagannath Temple with amenities and infrastructure
– Modern Shree Jagannath Temple Administration building
– 600-capacity Srimandir reception centre
– Shree Jagannath cultural centre that would include the Raghunandan library, integrated command and control centre
– Badadanda heritage landscape and other improvements in Srimandir amenities
IAS Pradeep Kumar Jena, Development Commissioner said that the project will transform Puri into a major world-class tourist and religious centre which is already globally known for its blue beaches and Lord Jagannath Temple and the glorious ‘Rath-Yatra’. “The corridor would be divided into nine layers: a green buffer surrounding the temple complex, an inner “pradakshina” path, a landscaped zone, an outer “pradakshina” path, a public convenience zone, a service lane, a traffic lane and a pedestrian footpath. Besides, the plans include: battery-run vehicles for devotees, a reception centre with a capacity of 6,000 persons for queue management, a luggage scanning system, a cloakroom for belongings of upto 4,000 families, adequate drinking water and washroom facilities, and a store for books and souvenirs,” Jena told Financial Express Online.
According to the plan, the heritage corridor would be divided into nine zones. A seven meter green buffer zone will be created adjacent to the Meghanad Prachir followed by a 10 meter Antar Parikrama. The Parikrama will be for ceremonial procession of the deities. An eight meter corridor called outer pradikshyan for devotees and a 10 meter public conveyance zone having restrooms, drinking water fountain, information-cum-donation kiosks and shelter pavilions will be developed.
The heritage Corridor will have a five meter service lane for maintenance of the corridor, 4.5 meter dedicated shuttle-cum-emergency lane, 7.5 meter mixed traffic lane to aid movement of vehicles around the corridor and seven meter wide shaded footpath. The Atithi Abhyartana Gruha would have a capacity to seat 6,000 devotees and cloakroom facility for 4,000 families. All the matthas around the temple are being developed in Kalingan style architecture.