Prasanta Kumar Dash
Bhubaneswar, Dec 31: Rome was not built in a day, so tens of thousands of scenic historical monuments, spiritual heritages, of the ancient Odisha which is said to be a heartland of modern India. Thanks to the glorious predecessors who had built the holy shrines with historic paramount and handed them down over generations, for preserving all well for us to showcase as prides for good. However, the short-timeline of 2023, for Odisha proved the year as a suffice period to rebuild and robust almost all prime places, intrinsically related to the landscape of Odisha and the Odia cult as well.
Among other significant achievements in the dynamics of the prudential state, the demography of Odisha witnessed a sea-change in the holy shrines and socio-cultural heritages during the transit of the 12-month timeline. The 5T initiative, which was a brainchild of the Odisha CMO and 5T and Nabin Odisha Chairman VK Pandian, became a stride of developments for makeover of shrines and cultural heritages across the state.
Puri Jagannath temple which was architected in the 12th century by the Ganga Dynasty was bestowed a magnificent facelift during a few months under the aegis of Shri Mandir Parikrama Project this year. The Jagannath temple heritage corridor project is going to be inaugurated on the next January 17. Among other shrines in the Ekamra Kshetra Bhubaneswar, the periphery of the Shri Lingaraj temple is being transformed under the 5T initiatives, as a world-class shrine.
Apart from it, the Manikeswari Temple in Kalahandi, Gupteswar in Koraput, Maa Khambeswari Temple in the Balangir district have been taken up for transformation with placing sizeable budgets from the government fund.
Recently, the Vishnu Ananta Sayan at Sarang and Astasambhu Temple in the Dhenkanal district have been included for complete makeover from the 5T assistance.
The 500-year old Maa Tara Tarini temple in the Ganjam district has now been a masterpiece shrine. With the interventions of the 5T initiatives, the holy spot was transformed as the first of its kind to provide it a new spiritual look with a sizeable cost of around Rs 117 crore. Where the only way earlier was climbing 999 steps to have a glimpse of the twin goddesses atop Kumari hill (about 780 feet above sea level) near Purushottampur in Ganjam district now got a ropeway, well-paved roads and buses to ferry the devotees to the famous Shakti shrine with ease. World-class amenities with inclusive throughways have now made the shrine an eco-friendly for the visitors.
The historical Nrusinghanath temple, situated at the foothills of Gandhamardan hills near Paikmal in the Bargarh district, is set to unveil a new look with a project cost of worth Rs 23 crore. The beautification and development work at the temple is going on in full swing. Purusottam Pradhan, the executive officer of the temple, said work on a plethora of facilities catering to tourists is under way. Among the developments are the creation of a bhoga mandap, waiting halls for both male and female visitors, modern toilets, a cloakroom and a ramp for the handicapped.
Similarly, the 16th Century Samaleswari temple situated in the western Odisha’s Sambalpur district which was almost faded up for no spectacular maintenance, got a remarkable transformation in the threshold of 2023. The Maa Samalei project work is on a big leap, according to the reviews conducted by the 5T Chairman, VK Pandian. Temple Area Management and Local Economy Initiatives (SAMALEI) project is under way.
It is expected to conclude by the end of this month. Under the project, transformative improvement of the Samaleswari temple is being carried out on the line of the Puri Jagannath temple and Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar. The SAMALEI scheme is being implemented by the Odisha Bridge and Construction Corporation (OBCC). The estimated budget for the development work, which is being carried out over around 30 acres, is Rs 140 crore.
The famous Budhi Thakurani temple in Berhampur, one of the ancient temples in the state, will get a major facelift under the state government’s ongoing temple renovation drive under the 5T initiative.
The proposed redevelopment DPR of the Shakti shrine includes reconstruction of the main temple in the ancient Kalinga pattern of sculpture at the cost of Rs 18.91 core.
Maa Cuttack Chandi temple in Odisha’s Silver City Cuttack achieved a prime facelift. Its beatification and renovation was completed at a cost of at least Rs 70 crore.
After Tara Tarini, the government decided to revamp as many as 1,023 religious places, including 26 major shrines in Ganjam district with an investment of Rs 91.48 crore. The government has also asked the panchayats to develop the temple infrastructure under the Aam Odisha Nabin Odisha fund for which Rs 50 lakh was sanctioned to every panchayat. Some of these projects include 300-year-old Marda temple in Polasara block, known as Sharan Shrikshetra, where the deities of Jagannath temple, Puri, took shelter during 1733-1735 AD, around 500-year-old historic Ganesh temple at Panchama, ancient Siddha Bhairabi temple, near Golanthara, the famous Budhist site Budhakhol, Buguda, Mahuri Kalua, ancient Bateswara temple, Ganjam, ancient Jagannath temple and Narayani temple in Khallikote. Some other temples which will get a facelift under the latest project include Ratanei (Sanakhemundi), Balakumari (Chikiti), Jagannath and Baghradevi temples, Kulada, Bhanjanagar, Tumbeswar temple (Polasara),Maa Khambeswari temple, Aska and Ramchandi, Chhatrapur, Jagannath temple at Dharakote.
While January 17,2024 is set to be a Red Lettered Day in Odisha's history, the calendar-year 2023 will be an unforgetable era of socio-cultural upliftment for the people of the state, as good-governance with the innovative breakthrough of the 5T became more instrumental during the recent past.