PURI: Over four lakh visitors descended on Puri on Monday to take holy dip in sea and offer prayers to Sun God and Lord Jagannath on the New Year day.As scheduled, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik arrived at the Jagannath temple gate at about 11.30 am. Temple chief administrator PK Jena, District Magistrate Arabind Agarwal and SP Sarthak Sarangi received the CM and escorted him into the temple. After offering prayer to the Trinity, Naveen took stock of the ongoing repair works on Jagamohan. Later, he went to Biju Samadhi at Swargadwar and offered floral tributes to his late father. Before leaving Puri, Naveen inaugurated the Sanskruti Bhavan built at a cost of `2.7 crores in presence of Culture Minister Ashok Panda and Revenue Minister Maheswar Mohanty.
Meanwhile, lakhs of revellers stayed on the beach throughout the night braving the chilly weather to welcome the New Year. Fire crackers were burst while the visitors also offered prayers to the rising Sun.
Writers and poets organised midnight congregations at various places on the beach and dedicated their new compilations welcoming the New Year. Hotels, lodging houses, holiday homes as well as private and Government accommodations were running full. A number of hotels also organised musical programmes.
Tourists were seen enjoying camel and horse rides on the beach as well as scooters and speed boats in the sea. Sand art creations by Sudarshan Pattnaik and Manas Sahu on Puri and Chandrabhaga beach were major attraction for visitors.
The Jagannath temple administration had rescheduled visiting time for the devotees. While the temple gate was closed at about 9 pm on Sunday, it opened at about 2 am on Monday to accommodate large number of devotees seeking darshan of the deities. One-way entry system through barricades at the temple main gate was enforced. Visitors were allowed to exit through three other gates.
Fifty platoons of police force were deployed in and around the town while vehicular traffic was regulated on all roads leading to Puri. Devotees were frisked and made to pass through metal detectors before entering the temple. Intelligence personnel kept a tight vigil on crowd movement in the entire Badadanda area through CCTV cameras.
The district administration had engaged hundreds of life guards along the beach to assist visitors in bathing. There was no untoward incident till the report was filed.Heavy rush of revellers was also noticed in adjoining tourist spots like Sipakuda, Satpara, Ramchandi, Harchandi and Konark.
Devotees, revellers throng Kapilash
Dhenkanal: Thousands of devotees and tourists thronged the famed Kapilash shrine and Saptasajya hills to celebrate the first day of the New Year on Monday. Devotees waited in long queues at Kapilash to offer their prayer to Lord Chandrasekhar. While some climbed up the Kapilash hill to reach the temple, others drove along Barabanka road in vehicles. Various stalls selling sacred objects and food items were installed by local vendors. However, police did not allow devotees to wait on the temple premises for long to control the rush. With increased rates of flowers and other puja items, vendors made brisk business. Tourists and revellers organised picnic parties in the picturesque Saptyasajya and Borapada. Families also visited the Deer Park and science centre on their way to Kapilash. Police personnel were deployed at all places to prevent untoward incident.