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Puri Jagannath temple had 149-kg gold 40 years ago: Minister

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Press Trust of India Bhubaneswar
The treasure chest ('Ratna Bhandar') of the famous Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri had over 149 kg of gold ornaments and 258 kg of silver utensils, according to a list prepared by the temple administration 40 years ago.
The Odisha Assembly was informed this by Law Minister Pratap Jena, who did not say anything about the current status of the 'Ratna Bhandar' where precious jewelery and ornaments of the deities are kept.
The 'Ratna Bhandar' was opened early this month after 34 years by experts from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to inspect its structural condition.
"Over 12,831 bhari (one bhari equals to 11.66 gram) of gold ornaments fitted with precious stones were kept in Ratna Bhandar of Lord Jagannath," Jena said while replying a written question of BJP member Dilip Ray.
This apart, the treasury also stored 22,153 bhari of silver utensils and other items, he said.
The minister said his information was based on a list prepared and available with the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) after opening of the treasury in 1978.
He said both the inner and outer chambers of the 'Ratna Bhandar' was opened and the items stored there were counted between May 15, 1978 and July 23, 1978. The temple administration had prepared a list of the items.
Jena said there was no official record available with the administration about valuation of the items.
The minister said that 14 items of gold and silver could not be weighed at that time and these items were not included in the 1978 list.
Prior to the April 4 inspection of the 'Ratna Bhandar', it was opened in 1984, 1978, 1926 and 1905, temple administration sources said.
In reply to another question by BJD's Aswani Kumar Patra, Jena said the people who inspected the structural condition of the 'Ratna Bhandar' had observed cracks in the wall and small pieces of stones lying on the floor.
"The ASI will take required measures for the maintenance of the Ratna Bhandar," the minister said.
On March 22, the Orissa High Court had ordered the ASI to inspect the structures of the 'Ratna Bhandar'.
The high court is monitoring the repair works undertaken by the ASI in the 12th-century shrine since 2016, while adjudicating over a PIL seeking judicial intervention for effective repair and renovation of the temple.

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First Published: Apr 26 2018 | 10:20 PM IST

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