BHUBANESWAR: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday directed officials to complete the Ekamra Kshetra Heritage Project around the 11th century Lingaraj temple within a year. Stating that Ekamra Kshetra Project is another significant step after Puri Srimandir Heritage Project under 5T Programme, the Chief Minister directed officials to take steps to include festivals such as Maha Shivaratri, Ashokastami, Ratha Yatra and Sitala Sasthi in the national calendar of festivals. He said that completion of the beautification project will strengthen the demand for placing Bhubaneswar in the list of UNESCO’s world heritage sites. Work on the project had stopped for the last couple of months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The heritage project envisages beautification of the entire periphery of Lingaraj temple and provisioning of all amenities for the devotees and tourists. On completion of the project, around two lakh devotees will be able to witness the Mahadeepa ritual on Maha Shivaratri, against a maximum of 10,000-15,000 people now. Besides, lakhs of kaudias who visit the temple during the month of Shravan to pour holy water on Lord Shiva will have better facilities. After the success of the beautification project of the Jagannath Temple at Puri, the Chief Minister had announced the Ekamra Kshetra Heritage Project in December, 2019 for revival and preservation of heritage value and grandeur of the Lingaraj temple and its surroundings on 66 acre land.
The first phase of the project includes outer access road development, Lingaraj entry plaza, Bindusagar revival plan, parking space, heritage complex, development of amenities for Kedar Gouri- Mukteswar complex, e-auto project, relocation project and a state-of-the-art interpretation centre. As Bindusagar is a major attraction, work has started on its holistic development and beautification. All construction between Lingaraj Temple and Bindusagar will be dismantled so that pilgrims can also visit the Bindhyabasini, Bhabanishankar, Sukashari and Mohini temples without any problem. Till around 350 years back, there was no construction between Lingaraj Temple and Bindusagar except temples. The same thing will be restored in the Ekamra Kshetra project.