Puri Becoming a City of World Heritage

The inauguration of the Jagannath Temple heritage corridor in Puri by the chief minister of Odisha Naveen Pattnaik has been a journey of multiple facets. This project is known as the most prestigious project done by the BJD government. This project has been carried out to expand the temple’s surroundings and make the devotees more comfortable while visiting to do darshan and parikrama in and around the temple as per the project website,  the parikrama corridor provides the pilgrims with a visual connection with the temple. There has been a new route constructed to reach the temple other than the Bada Danda (largest road), which is the Shree setu and the Jagannath Ballabh Prakalp, through this the devotees can reach the temple corridor without facing many hassles.

The inauguration of the Jagannath Puri Heritage Corridor was done a few days before the grand consecration ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The Parikrama corridor has conserved the culture and the heritage of the temple and the state itself. Puri Jagannath temple is one of the four major religious dhams of Hindu religion and lord Jagannath temple is famous not just in India but all over the world. There Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra worshipped in the temple along with the other Hindu deities. So every day around 40 – 50 thousand devotees visit the Puri Jagannath temple for darshan. The hustle bustle and crowd governing the temple used to get clumsy due to the unauthorized marketplaces, business setups and local housing surrounding the temple corridors, which is why the devotees were not able to do parikrama around the temple.

The purpose of the Jagannath Parikrama Corridor project ( the 75-meter corridor surrounding the Jagannath temple) has been to provide facilities to visitors/ devotees and increase temple security. So, the intention behind this project is to provide a symmetric view of Jagannath temple, Neel chakra, and Meghanad pacheri, to construct an unobstructed corridor around the temple. The 75mtr corridor is an opener to restore the temple parikrama which was stopped for about 200 years. The renovation of different Maths and other religious shines around the Jagannath temple has rejuvenated the beauty, culture and historical monuments. Despite many political hurdles and legal issues, the restoration project could come to its full-fledged scenario on 17 January 2024. The opposition including political critics argues that it could be the strategic move taken by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and V.K Pandyan to pull voters in the 2024 elections.

As it has been mentioned above, the Jagannath Corridor Project is a step to facilitate different facilities and services for the devotees visiting the temple all across the country. The 75-meter heritage corridor has been divided into nine areas from the northern, southern and western sides. There is a 7-meter green buffer zone and 8-meter internal circulation which is open for not just pedestrians and devotees to do parikrama but also service vehicles and emergency vehicles. This 15-meter landscape zone is filled with greenery to give a pleasant and cooling walkway for pedestrians. Other than that, there are public convenience areas, a service lane/ emergency lane, a separate mixed traffic lane and a green walkway constructed within this circumference.

The Heritage Corridor Eastern Plaza area has been redeveloped into a large open space. The tourists can avail of different facilities like keeping their belongings, getting freshen up, fetching drinking water etc before standing in the queue to enter the temple. Moreover, the government of Odisha has constructed multi-layered car parking in the Jagannath Vallav Pilgrim Centre as well to make easy access for tourists, a 2.3 km long 4 Lane Trumpet Bridge ( Shree Setu) was constructed.

The project was surrounded by many legal and political battles yet came out to be a grand success. As an excerpt from the BJD government, the revival of temples and other religious places in the state is but a gesture from the government to show respect towards the faith of the people who have voted for the chief minister.