PURI: The State Government has granted permission to the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) for opening two rooms of the temple treasury (Ratna Bhandar) for examination of structural stability by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The Ratna Bhandar will be opened after 33 years. It was opened last time in 1985. However, there will be no inventorisation of the valuables inside the Ratna Bhadar.
The Law department accorded permission for opening of the Ratna Bhandar in a letter to the SJTA on Tuesday. However, the date of the opening will be decided at the meeting of the Chhatisa Niyoga on March 29.
Sources said an emergent meeting of the sevayats have also been convened on Wednesday to discuss the issue. The SJTA maintained that only the roof, walls and floors of the three and a half feet high Ratna Bhandar will be examined as per the provisions in the Sri Jagannath Temple Act. A five-member committee will be constituted to oversee the opening and implementation of subsequent decisions in this regard.
SJTA, however, clarified that only structural stability and safety of Ratna Bhandar will be assessed during inspection by ASI experts. On the day of inspection, no material, valuables, precious ornaments etc stored in cupboards, almirahs would be touched. Only a visual inspection of the walls, roof and floor of the Ratna Bhandar will be done.
A five-member team of ASI officials on Monday inspected the status of the Ratna Bhandar from outside on the instruction of the Orissa High Court. The High Court is monitoring the repair work in response to a PIL seeking judicial intervention for repair and renovation of the temple. Chief Administrator PK Jena said the ASI officials will only examine the status of the wall and roof of the ‘Ratna Bhandar’ to ensure its sustainability. A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has to be followed while entering the ‘Ratna Bhandar’, he added.
Nobody knows and there is no record of the contents in the unopened two small treasury rooms (Ratna Bhandar). There is no mention of items in the vaults and there are three key holders. One key is with temple administration in government treasury, one with the Puri Gajapati and the third key is with the sevayat in charge of the treasury. The Ratna Bhandar has been opened in 1905, 1926, 1978 and 1985.