Ten-member committee to inspect Ratna Bhandar

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Puri: A 10-member committee was formed to inspect the Srimandir Ratna Bhandar (treasure trove) during a meeting of Chhatisa Nijog (apex body of temple servitors) here on Thursday.

The inspection panel comprising of five members from Archeological Survey of India (ASI), two core committee members, Orissa High Court represented by retired civil engineer NK Mohanty and Puri King Gajapati Dibya Singha Deb or his representative will enter the Ratna Bhandar.  As per the decision, the members will not be allowed to carry any metal, valuables or electronic device while entering the treasure trove.

They will be frisked both at the time of entry and exit while the entire process will be videographed. Further, they will be provided with traditional towel (gamuchha) by the temple administration before entering Ratna Bhandar. Those who will enter the Ratna Bhandar will only conduct a visual inspection but will not touch any of the things kept inside.

However, the date of inspection will be decided at the next meeting of the Chhatisa Nijog. The meeting, chaired by Chief Administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Pradeep Jena approved the guidelines for structural inspection of Ratna Bhandar. Among others, SP Sarthak Sarangi, Administrator (Rituals) Pradeep Das, Administrator (Security) Prafulla Mishra and members of Chhatisa Nijog were present. Precious jewellery and ornaments of the deities are kept in Ratna Bhandar, which was last inspected in 1984 when only three of its seven chambers were opened.

The SJTA is also mulling to involve members of Snake Helpline, an organisation that helps catch snakes.
RN Mishra, who was the administrator of the temple in 1984, said that those who had entered the Ratna Bhandar that year for inspection had heard hissing sounds inside the area.

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