What’s the real drive behind temple facelifts in Odisha — tourism promotion or soft Hindutva?

Into his fifth consecutive term as Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik announced his ambitious plan to develop Puri, the abode of Lord Jagannath, into a world heritage city | Image - Prathap Ravishankar

Months after he began his fifth consecutive innings as Odisha Chief Minister in 2019, when Naveen Patnaik announced his ambitious plan to develop Puri, the abode of Lord Jagannath, into a world heritage city, a majority of the Odias were happy.

Old, historical mutts, mostly in dilapidated condition, and other structures located within a radius of 75 metres around the main temple, Shri Mandir were razed to the ground without much resistance, thanks to the government’s mouth-watering rehabilitation and resettlement package.

In February this year, the state Assembly unanimously passed the resolution for the development of the Shree Jagannath Temple under the “Shreemandira Parikrama Yojana” or the Jagannath Temple Heritage Corridor Plan, which aims at enhanced security of the 12th century shrine, better amenities for devotees and creation of a spiritual ambience.

While moving the resolution in virtual mode, Naveen said, “The greatest identity of Odia community is Lord Jagannath, our history, culture, traditions and our beliefs are all based on the Lord. He is the symbol of Odia esteem.”

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