Konark and Puri temples affected by Cyclone Fani

Jagannath temple in Puri. File photo

The Odisha government has said that the extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani that hit the state on May 3 has affected the Sun Temple in Konark as well as the Jagannath temple in Puri, both hugely popular hotspots of tourists and devotees from across the country and abroad. The Sun Tempe is located at a distance of just about 25 kms from Puri where the cyclone had its landfall.

The state government has already drawn the attention of the Centre for the immediate repair of both the important as well as ageing monuments which are being maintained and looked after by Archaeological Survey of India(ASI), a government of India agency.

State government sources said the basic structure of both the monuments had luckily remained intact. However, other structures inside the premises of both the temples have been damaged by the heavy wind of the cyclone.

The daily rituals in Jagannath temple have already begun. But only locals visit the shrine now as the state government has already issued an advisory to the tourists and visitors from outside Puri not to visit the cyclone-ravaged temple town till normalcy is restored.

The Sun Temple in Konark, however, has been completely shut down for visitors since the cyclone hit the state last week. There is no requirement of daily rituals in the temple as it is not a shrine but only a protected monument. The authorities have been forced to close the temple as its complex is now choked with broken and uprooted trees numbering about 200, state government sources said.

A high-level ASI team headed by its director general(DG) Usha Sharma visited both Konark and Puri temples on Friday after chief minister Naveen Patnaik sent a letter to union culture minister Mahesh Sharma on the issue.

If sources in the state government are to be believed, the ASI team gave an assurance that the Sun Temple will be re-opened for tourists within the next three to four days. Similarly, a team of experts will be stationed in Puri to complete the repairing work in Jagannath temple on a war-footing before the annual world famous Rath Yatra which will be celebrated this year on July 4. An oil PSU has already donated Rupees five crore for the repair and restoration work of Puri shrine.     

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