Opening of Ratna Bhandar of Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri fast-tracked 

The committee, led by Justice Biswanath Rath of the Odisha High Court, decided that if the lock cannot be opened with the existing key, it will be broken during this Rath Yatra

Published - July 07, 2024 04:08 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

Shree Jagannath temple in Puri.

Shree Jagannath temple in Puri. | Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout

The high level committee constituted under chairmanship of Orissa High Court judge Justice Biswanath Rath for supervising the inventorisation of jewelleries and other valuables stored in Ratna Bhandar of Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri has fast-tracked the process of opening the temple treasury after 46 years.

The committee’s first meeting was convened at Puri on July 6. “Based on the official records available to the committee, it has been confirmed that a duplicate key exists for the Ratna Bhandar locks. A follow-up meeting has been scheduled for July 9, during which the key will be presented to the committee,” said Justice Rath.

“Records indicate that the existing key may not open the inner chamber, which hasn’t been accessed recently. Keeping this issue in mind, we will propose a standard operating procedure for breaking the lock. Given that the inner chamber hasn’t been opened for decades, the lock could be rusted,” he told reporters after the meeting.

The Chief Administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has been asked to get the SOP approved from government and submit to the committee during July 9 meeting.

“Our mandate goes beyond just facilitating the opening of the Ratna Bhandar. We are also responsible for creating an inventory of its valuables. Besides, we must ensure the Ratna Bhandar undergoes necessary repairs. If committee feels, the valuables cannot remain inside during repair, the Managing Committee of the temple will be asked to decide on a suitable and secure location to temporarily relocate the jewellery during the repair work,” the committee chairman said.

Another SOP will be issued for process of inventorisation of jewelleries as it requires experts to identify and weigh the gold ornaments and other precious stones.

“We are expecting that before sibling deities return to main temple during this Rath Yatra, jewelleries will be shifted to safer places and repair works will be undertaken,” he clarified.

As per records, temple’s Ratna Bhandar has a total 454 gold articles with a net weight of 12,838 Bharis (128.38 kg) and 293 silver articles weighing 22,153 Bharis (221.53 kg). The last inventory of Ratna Bhandar was made 46 years ago in 1978.

Opening of Ratna Bhandar was very controversial issue as the Bharatiya Janata Party had alleged that then Naveen Patnaik Government sat over the matter and failed to open the Ratna Bhandar. The BJP had also raised doubts over safety of jewelleries and other valuables in Ratna Bhandar.

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