Puri is bustling with pilgrims and tourists who have turned up in large number to spend their winter holidays.
The visitors have come from different parts of the State apart from neighbouring States particularly West Bengal.
Almost all the hotels, lodging houses, holiday homes and Government accommodations have been occupied to their capacity. With the number of visitors increasing every day, the traffic police have a tough time to deal with the tourist vehicles entering the city. Besides hoteliers, travel and tour operators and priests of the Jagannath temple, beggars are also making good money from the tourists.
City hoteliers have doubled their number of staff to cater to the increasing tourist flow. Many unscrupulous hoteliers have raised their room rents several fold while travel agencies too have doubled their rates. Rush of tourists has also been noticed in Chilika lake, Satapada, Ramchandi, Harchandi and Konark. Boat owners at Chilika too have increased their fees substantially. Besides, picnic parties from across the State are found at various spots around the city.
People are also thronging the beach where 10 sand artists are creating sculptures every day. Hundreds of lifeguards have been deployed along the beach to prevent drowning in the sea while bathing.
Majority of them have come to offer prayer at the 12th century temple while others arrived just to enjoy the year-end and beginning of New Year at the beach.
The Jagannath temple administration has also geared up its resources for timely performance of rituals. The quantity of Mahaprasad has been doubled to meet the demand.
To prevent any untoward incident, one-way entry system has been enforced in the temple. Armed policemen have been deployed on temple duty and the visitors are frisked through metal detector gates. CCTV cameras have been installed at strategic points to monitor the crowd movement, said Puri SP Anup Kumar Sahu.
The district authorities have deployed hundreds of additional policemen and made elaborate security arrangements to control the crowd.
Last year, five lakh devotees and tourists from various parts of the country thronged Puri to usher in the New Year. “This year too large number of people from different parts of the State are expected to celebrate New Year,” a district police official said.