PURI: Sun Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was off limits to hundreds of tourists on Sunday due to shortage of entry tokens. Tension prevailed for several hours at the temple as the tourists expressed their resentment.
The temple witnesses heavy footfall on Sundays and holidays with more than 5,000 tourists visiting the 13th century shrine. But entry tokens can be issued to only 1,000 tourists as per the norms. Shortage of the tokens has become a regular affair on holidays after the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) introduced the system six months back.
The tourists alleged that despite waiting for long hours, hundreds of people who had come along with their children and elderly family members from far-flung areas could not get the entry passes. They had to spend their time sitting under trees and some had to return without visiting the temple.
The frustrated tourists later staged protest in front of the gate shouting slogans against the State Government and ASI. They held the archaeological officials responsible for the mismanagement.
Purusottam Lal, a tourist from Bikaner in Rajasthan, said, “I came with my family to see the temple. After standing in queue for two hours, I learnt that there was little possibility of getting tokens as hundreds more were ahead of me. Since I have to catch the flight, I have to return without seeing the unique temple.”
Susant Kumar Gochhayat, officer of ASI in-charge of Puri and Konark temples, said, “We have been issuing plastic tokens to the visitors against payment of entry fee. The tokens are scanned at the temple gate and the visitors have to drop those in a box on their return. Thereafter, those were again issued to new visitors. At a time, we issue 800 to 1,000 tokens. We usually issue the tokens to 2,000 to 3,000 visitors in a day.”
Many times, the visitors do not return the tokens or some miss those. Now, the number of total tokens has come down from 1,500 to 1,000. “On Sunday, there was a huge crowd and we did not have adequate tokens as the visitors did not return those,” Gochhayat said.“We have informed the authorities to increase the tokens and hope this problem would be solved soon,” he said.