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Facebook for Deoghar facelift

- DC invites ideas on site to streamline darshan, Rs 38cr project on anvil

Ranchi, Nov. 23: Deoghar deputy commissioner Rahul Purwar has invited devotees to take part in the proposed makeover of Baba Baidyanath Dham temple complex, throwing open his Facebook account as a public suggestion box on crowd management and facilities.

Jharkhand’s temple tourism magnet, the premises of the 8th century Baba Baidyanath temple, has for years been envisaged as another Tirupati to prevent stampedes, delays and discomfort.

In July 2012, the state cabinet approved a Rs 38.37 crore multi-level queue complex project of which Rs 23 crore has arrived from the Centre. The project promises smooth darshan for lakhs of devotees, with regulated and timed queues to the sanctum sanctorum where the jyotirlinga stands, television screens airing devotional programmes on the way and medical and sanitation facilities.

Right now, however, Deoghar, which according to unconfirmed sources gets nearly one crore devotees a year — Purwar pegs it at a very conservative 20 lakh, with half or 10 lakh during Shravan alone — has little else but chaos to offer devotees.

“Deoghar receives a massive footfall, but in terms of resources it is nil compared to other Indian shrines. After standing for hours for darshan, one doesn’t have energy for sightseeing or shopping to enhance their own experience and rev up local revenue and livelihood options,” Purwar, also the secretary-cum-CEO of the temple board, said.

Putting new-age technology to the cause of an age-old temple, Purwar’s Facebook post titled “Steps to better shrine amenities” invites suggestions from people at large to improve the darshan experience.

“Baba Dham doesn’t have its own Facebook page, so I am doing what I can,” he said.

“We are asking support from experts who can suggest steps…We will make every arrangement to ensure smooth movement of devotees, especially during Shravan month…the expert will also assist in designing the arghya system in the sanctum sanctorum…” goes the Facebook post.

The post invites suggestions on timing the entry and exit of devotees to avoid serpentine queues, remodelling existing infrastructure, improving air-conditioning, fire-fighting systems, water and electricity supply.

Purwar also promises hi-tech systems, including CCTV monitors, television sets and an information-rich website for devotees.

For now, he offers two concrete steps. To begin with, the temple management will replicate Tirupati’s darshan by introducing time slots from next Shravani Mela. An agency to implement bookings will be finalised by month-end, said Purwar.

“In Tirupati, one can enter the temple at a given time. Here, too, the temple board after a meeting recently decided to replicate the system. Devotees will book their visit to which we will give them a darshan slot. This way, one won’t have to queue up for hours,” Purwar said.

Step two is setting up prasad counters on temple premises to curb adulteration.

“Adulterated khowas and prasad are a big menace. We try to keep tabs but it is a tedious job. That is why we have decided to introduce our own prasad counters and will partner dairies for the job. Once we do this, sweet shops are bound to offer quality prasad to stay in business,” Purwar said.

He added he was looking forward to some great ideas on Facebook. “FB is one of the best ways to talk to people. Your inputs are invaluable so that you get to experience a difference the next time you visit here,” he said.


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