Even as Rath Yatra was celebrated with fervour in Puri, a small town in Odisha’s Ganjam district that houses a 300-year-old Jagannath temple spent a quiet day, with no chariots rolling out of the shrine on the occasion.
Local people in Ganjam’s Marada town, including BJD MLA Srikant Sahu, have been urging the state government to develop the site as a tourist spot, but not much has been done about it so far.
The Kalinga-style temple has no deities at present but holds historical significance.
As the legacy goes, the temple had served as a hiding place for the deities of Jagannath temple in Puri, when the Muslims invaded the region around 1733-1735 AD.
Once the situation changed for better, the deities returned to their abode in Puri, and Marada came to be known as Sarana Srikhetra.
“Not many know about the historical importance of the temple. If the government declares the site as a tourist spot, people would get to know about the place, its significance,” said the MLA.
The sevayats (servitors) and researchers of Lord Jagannath, who visited the place about 10 years ago to study its connection with Puri Jagannath temple, had promised to make efforts to highlight its significance among the tourists.
People from far off places will be keen to visit the temple, once they come about its story, said Pradip Nayak, a village head in the area.
“The government should to take steps to build a compound wall around the shrine,” he asserted.
Sahu said a 2-km approach road from his constituency, Polasara, to Marada was constructed recently at a cost of Rs 2.20 crore.
The state government has also sanctioned Rs 12 lakh for construction of a community centre at the heritage town, he said.
District Tourist Officer Sanatan Nayak said he would write to the government again for the development of the site.
“Since Marada has links with Shri Jagannath temple of Puri, I will once again submit a report to the state government, requesting it to develop the place as a tourist spot,” he added.