Source : The Times of India
Amid the raging debate on whether non-Hindus should be allowed inside the Jagannath temple in Puri, the state government is mulling to construct a replica of the shrine to give a feel of the temple to non-Hindu tourists.
The state-run Orissa Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) is planning to construct the miniature Jagannath temple on the land of Jagannath Ballav mutt, about half a kilometer from the real abode of Lord Jagannath in Puri.
“The details of the miniature temple would be drawn up soon. We would also seek the opinion of priests of Jagannath temple and shrine body before finalizing the plan,” OTDC executive engineer J K Das said. “Since non-Hindus cannot enter the main temple, they can get a feel of the temple at the proposed lookalike,” Das said.
Foreign tourists, who use the rooftop of Emar mutt as a viewing gallery to catch a glimpse of the main temple, are happy with the decision. “It is a good idee,” said J Augustine, an American tourist. There have been several unsavoury instances in the past when foreign tourists were thrown out of the Jagannath temple.
The concept of a replica of Jagannath temple has not captured the imagination of the priests of the temple, however. “The Jagannath temple is not a museum. So there is no need to create a replica of it. The lookalike temple cannot create the emotional and transcendental attachment of the main temple,” said senior temple priest Rabindranath Pratihari.
“If idols of the deities would be installed inside the replica temple, then non-Hindus should not be allowed. Otherwise it would hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus,” said another priest, Ramakrushna Dasmohapatra. Meanwhile, the OTDC has come up with a master plan to construct an interpretation centre, shopping mall, pathways, landscapes, etc, for tourists on the Jagannath Ballav mutt land. In the first phase, Rs 9 crore has been earmarked for development works on the 42 acres of land.