Minor damages to Jagannath Temple by cyclone Fani

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Puri: The 12th century Shree Jagannath temple here has suffered minor damages due to cyclone ‘Fani’ that ripped apart the holy town on Friday, officials said Sunday.

“Yes, there has been minor damages to the temple, but the main structure remains unaffected. We will request the ASI to inspect the shrine,” P K Mohapatra, the chief administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), told PTI.

The impact of the devastating cyclone that killed at least 21 people in Puri district, is seen from the Lion’s Gate, the main entrance of the temple.

The Lion’s Gate, also locally called as ‘Jay-Vijay Dwar’ (the passage having two idols of Jay and Vijay), itself bears signs of the severity with which Fani hammered the landmass.

“The idol of Jay has been broken and damaged,” Mohapatra said, adding that the other idol of Vijay is intact.

As the cyclone struck Puri when the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was undertaking certain repair works of the main temple, it was fitted with about 5,000 iron poles.

The scaffoldings standing tall close to the main structure, however, crumbled after being slammed by Fani with a wind speed of 200 to 240 kmph.

Most of the iron poles fell on the ground, while some of them were twisted, a senior official said, adding that the labourers climbed the scaffoldings while undertaking repair work at height.

A huge lion statue close to the temple also received minor damage as the scaffoldings collapsed on it.

Keeping in view the safety of the devotees, the JTP (Jagannath Temple Police) has been asked not to allow anyone to go close to the damaged lion.

Though there was restriction on the entry of the devotees for sometime on Saturday, it had been relaxed on Sunday, an official said.

‘Kalpa Bata’ (a huge banyan tree known as a desire tree) within the sprawling temple premise was broken in the cyclone that rolled through the holy town.

The devotees used to tie sacred thread on branches of the ‘Kalpa Bata’ praying for fulfilment of their desire. They used to come to the temple when their desire used to get fulfilled, they would untie it, said Rabinarayan Mishra, a researcher in the Jagannath Culture.

He said the practice has been going on since time immemorial.

“Now, we will face difficulty as the devotees may ask us to show their thread which they had tied earlier. We have to shift the separated branches of the Kalpa Bata from the temple premise,” said a priest.

The temple’s garden called ‘Nilachala Upabana’ suffered massive destruction, while huge trees were also uprooted inside ‘Koili Baikuntha’ within the temple premises.

The priest said there was no such damage in the Shree Jagannath Temple Puri even during the devastating super cyclone in 1999 in which about 10,000 people were killed.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has visited Puri twice since May 3 and reviewed the situation in the holy town. While Patnaik undertook an aerial survey of Puri on Saturday, he again on Sunday visited Penthakata, the fishermen’s colony by the sea shore in Puri town.

“Fani was one of the rarest of the rare summer cyclone – the first one in 43 years to hit Odisha and one of three to hit the state in 150 years,” Patnaik said.

Describing the condition of Puri as “very bad”, Patnaik said the state has been able to restore water supply to 70 per cent of the Puri town.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is slated to visit Odisha on Monday, may also tour Puri in view of the severity of the cyclone in the pilgrim town.

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