Amid tight security, the Odisha government began the demolition of Mangu mutt located on the south-eastern side of the Simha dwar of Sri Jagannath temple.
The monastery that is located in the 75 – meter corridor around Meghanad Prachir of the temple, will take 3 – 4 days to be razed. The Indian Express reports that as many as nine shops, one hotel and a restaurant were operating from the mutt building. Earlier, the district administration had razed Nanguli, Emar and Bada Akhada mutts in the first phase of the demolition drive.
Puri additional district magistrate Binay Kumar Dash said the mutt’s deities and its sanctum sanctorum will be saved and the demolition will only take place near the commercial arena. “We will preserve the mutt’s deities, its sanctum sanctorum, gaadi, samadhi and other relics,” Dash said.
The mutt, built over a 100 years ago with mortar and limestone powder was declared unsafe by the administration a decade ago.
16 mutts have been listed to be demolished for the creation of the heritage and security corridor and almost all mahants (priests) have consented to the demolition.
The Supreme Court on October 3, had asked the state government to consult religious leaders before demolishing the mutts after head seers of different mutts had expressed their displeasure over the demolitions.
Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh has expressed his displeasure over the Puri government’s decision to raze the mutt and has asked for the Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik’s immediate intervention in the matter.
I am shocked to hear that some part of Mangu Mutt in Puri Orrisa has been demolished. This is the year of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and the least we can do is to preserve his heritage. I would request @Naveen_Odisha ji for immediate intervention. pic.twitter.com/KnKNXWd0fg
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) December 10, 2019
However, post the demolition of the mutts, the Odisha Sikh Pratinidhi Board (OPSB) has hailed the Puri administration for clearing the encroachments and illegal structures around the Mangu mutt, The Times of India reported. Mahinder Singh Kalsi, OPSB President has said that the sanctum sanctorum is now visible to the devotees, the view of which was previously obstructed due to unauthorized structures. He also said that other mutts – the Punjabi mutt in Puri that was in a dilapidated condition was assured to be renovated by the Puri government and the Bauli mutt that was visited by Guru Nanak Dev had already been handed over the Sikh sangat of the state.
The Mangu mutt
The proposal of the demolition of the Mangu mutt had also been passed once in September this year and the Punjab CM and other Sikhs in Odisha had requested the government to cease plans to proceed with the same. Members of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Golden Temple at Amritsar had also requested the government to preserve the historical relics related to Guru Nanak in the Mangu mutt.
Historian Anil Dhir had submitted a memorandum to the Odisha CM highlighting the importance of the Mangu mutt and the relationship the Sikhs had with Odisha.
He had said that the connection between Sikhism and the Jagannath temple could be traced back to over 500 years ago when Guru Nanak Dev visited the Puri shrine to spread the message of ‘Ek Onkar’. It was also that the holy Sikh aarti (prayer) enshrined in the Holy book of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, was composed at the Jagannath temple.
The Mangu mutt was set up in sometime around 1615 AD by Bhai Almast, a Sikh preacher and head of the Dhuari of the Udasi sect, who was deputed to the eastern provinces by Baba Guruditta, the eldest son of Guru Hargobind Singh. He also said that Guru Tegh Bahadur Singh had visited Mangu mutt in 1970 and the mutt houses the image of Baba Shri Chand, the son of Guru Nanak Dev.
Dhir said that the Mangu mutt was the abode of Nanak Panthis who travelled 2,000 miles, some even after Partition to visit Puri and played an imperative role in spreading the Jagannath culture in northern India.
Plans to make Puri a world heritage city
Earlier this month, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik had said that the acquisition of the private land within the 75-meter radius of the Jagannath Temple had been an “unprecedented success”.
The land was acquired for the creation of a security zone outside the temple and is a larger part of the plan to turn Puri into a world heritage city. The Pioneer reports that five projects worth Rs. 265.5 crore under the Augmentation of Basic Amenities and Development of Heritage and Architecture (ABADHA) would first be used to create structures to attract pilgrims to the temple site. An additional Rs 500 crore for peripheral beautification and face-lifting has also been announced to make the town brighten up.
A ‘Lok Seva Bhavan’ will house the Puri district administration units in one multi-storied structure and cost Rs. 66 crore with a parking space of 55,000 sq ft. The mid-city land will be developed for public spaces and the municipal market will be pulled down for the construction of a 1.2 acre modern market complex. Other plans include the construction of a Rs. 130 crore, 28 acre lake within the city limits and the construction of a seven floor ‘Habishali Home’ for Hindu widows who visit Odisha for a month long period of penance. The Musa Nadi, a revered river that is now heavily silted will also be brought back to life by the current government in its plan to five Puri a facelift.
The government has earmarked a total of Rs. 3,208 crore with Rs. 790 crore to be spent in the first year, 2019.
CM Patnaik had in the past felicitated people and thanked them, especially for cooperating with the government with regards to the demolition of structures around the Jagannath temple and implement stricter security measures.