Notwithstanding the massive financial burden on the State economy in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, the Odisha government on Monday announced to give a facelift to the 11th century Lingaraj Temple, akin to its pre-350-year structural status.

A high-level committee chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has approved the redevelopment plan of peripheral area of the 55-metre-tall temple, known as ‘Ekamravan Kshetra’, in Bhubaneswar.

The redevelopment will take place over 66 acres of land surrounding the temple, said the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) in a statement.

More space

At present, the space in front of the temple could barely accommodate 10,000 to 15,000 devotees during Shivratri congregation. However, upon revamping of adjoining areas of temple, 2 lakh devotees could easily congregate in the space.

After the Lingaraj Temple, the Bindusagar (a sprawling pond) is the second major attraction for devotees. The pond has religious relationship with the main temple.

“According to historical documents, about 350 years ago, there were only temples dotted between Rathagada of the Lingaraj Temple and the Bindusagar. There was no permanent structure in between. After 350 years, the Lingaraj Temple and the Bindusagar are going to get a new facelift,” the statement said.

Now, devotees could see the Lingaraj Temple from the Bindusagar and Chandan Yatra from the Rathagada area. Bindhyabasini, Bhabanishankar, Shukasari and Mohini temples will be part of the redevelopment plan.

₹700-crore project

As per reports, the State government had proposed to spend a total of ₹700 crore for the temple project. In this year’s budget, a fund to the tune of ₹150 crore was earmarked for bringing transformational changes in areas surrounding the Lingaraj Temple.

Other infrastructural projects, including an orientation centre, parking, a food plaza, a prayer hall, renovation of the Bindusagar and drainage development will be taken up simultaneously.

The Chief Minister directed officials to complete the project within one year. Apart from Minister Ashok Panda and Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy, Development Commissioner Suresh Chandra Mohapatra and Private Secretary to Chief Minister V. K. Pandian were present at the meeting.

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