Record number of devotees throng Jagannath Temple in Puri (WATCH)
Around 3-4 lakh devotees are anticipated to visit the temple, driven by enthusiasm to experience the enhanced surroundings due to the nearing completion of the heritage corridor project. Additional facilities, including an air-conditioned structure with amenities, have been arranged to cater to devotees.
Breaking all previous records, an unprecedented number of devotees have thronged the renowned Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha. Over 1 lakh devotees have offered prayers since early Morning 2 am. To note, the temple opened its doors at the unprecedented time of 1 am. The decision was made to ensure that the temple rituals are completed by 11 pm on Sunday, allowing for the reopening two hours later.
District Collector Samarth Verma explained the unique measure, emphasizing the significance of handling the expected rush on the auspicious occasion. The temple, dedicated to the sibling deities Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra, attracts lakhs of devotees annually on January 1.
"We expect that about 3-4 lakh devotees will visit the temple on New Year’s Day. The added enthusiasm is also because the people want to experience the revamped surrounding of the temple due to the heritage corridor project, which is almost complete, and will be inaugurated on January 17," shared Ranjan Das, the chief administrator of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA).
To enhance the devotees' experience, an air-conditioned tensile fabric structure has been erected outside the temple, set to be operational from Monday morning. The structure is equipped with essential facilities, including drinking water, public toilets, CCTV cameras, and public announcement systems. Adequate sitting arrangements have also been provided.
Maintaining a strict vigil, the SJTA has imposed restrictions on chewing pan and tobacco inside the temple, as well as the use of plastic bags. Violators have faced fines, and authorities appeal to all visitors to adhere to cleanliness and health guidelines.
In anticipation of the heightened footfall, traffic restrictions have been implemented in Puri on New Year's Day. The stretch from Market Chakka to Singhadwara on Badadanda has been designated a 'No Vehicle Zone.' Similarly, vehicles are prohibited on the beachside road from Digabareni to Lighthouse. Only emergency vehicles will be allowed on these restricted routes, as confirmed by DIG (Central Range) Ashish Kumar Singh.
To manage the parking situation, local and inter-state tourist buses are directed to the Malatipatpur bus stand, while regular passenger buses face no restrictions. Special arrangements have been made for cars, with designated parking areas at Saradhabali, Jail Road, Yatrika, and Jagannath Ballav parking lots.
Devotees and authorities alike are gearing up for a harmonious and spiritually uplifting New Year's Day at the Jagannath Temple in Puri.