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Cool welcome awaits deities

Bhubaneswar, July 20: When the deities return from their nine-day sojourn at Gundicha temple on July 26, the Jagannath temple will be a cooler place.

The Jagannath temple administration today said it would install air-cooling system in the shrine's sanctum sanctorum within eight days.

Chief administrator of the Puri temple Suresh Mohapatra told The Telegraph: "We have decided to introduce the system to improve ventilation inside the sanctum sanctorum. We are waiting for the report of the expert team that inspected the temple today. We will also repair the two doors inside the temple."

An eight-member team comprising experts of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), public works department and members of the temple administration inspected the sanctum sanctorum and examined the ventilation system. Former head of civil engineering department of IIT-Kharagpur A.P. Gupta led the team.

Officials said the technology would ensure that the hot air generated inside the sanctum sanctorum found its way out and was replaced by cold air to make the place cool. The administration decided to use air-cooling system after a section of servitors are opposed to installation of air-conditioners in the innermost areas of the shrine.

Experts are of the opinion that the heat generated inside the temple wass posing a threat to the idols inside the 12th century shrine. The heat is mainly generated by the offering of the freshly-cooked mahaprasad to the deities before it is sold outside to the devotees. Mecon, a government of India Undertaking, will provide funds for the cooling project. A Mecon team has also reached Puri.

The state government has had serious reservation over ASI's conservation activities within the temple. In March last year, the state government had written a letter to Union culture secretary Rabindra Singh expressing concern over the slow pace of conservation work.

Puri King Gajapati Dibya Singh Deb, too, had expressed his reservations on the activities of the ASI and had described it "far from satisfactory".

Head, ASI, Odisha circle, A.K. Patel said: "We have built our own system to undertake conservation activities inside the sanctum sanctorum."

Patel said conservation work was going on in the right direction. "The temple is safe and no one should be worried about it, " he said.

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