The ₹800-crore Shree Mandira Parikrama Project will help create an unobstructed 75-metre corridor around the Meghanada Pacheri.

The foundation stone was laid on Wednesday for the ambitious Shree Mandira Parikrama Project (SMPP), which seeks to develop areas falling within 75 metres from the 12th century Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri.

In the presence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Dibyasingha Deb, Chairman of Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee and titular king of Puri, laid the foundation at the culmination of a three-day ‘yagna’ (special rituals).

Being developed at an estimated investment of around ₹800 crore, the project will help create unobstructed 75-metre corridor around the Meghanada Pacheri (outer wall of Shree Jagannatha Temple).

For the first time in centuries, the redevelopment of temple surroundings has been taken up in this scale.

Upon completion of the project, devotees would get to see the temple from a distance. The corridor would also provide amenities for pilgrims and strengthen the safety and security of the temple and devotees, the Government said.

“Today is a historic day for all Jagannath devotees of all across the globe. This is also a sacred day for Odisha,” Mr. Patnaik said emerging from the ‘yajna’.

According to plan, the Shree Jagannath Heritage Corridor (SJHC) abutting Meghanada Pacheri is broadly divided into nine zones on the northern, southern and western side.

The seven-metre green buffer zone (adjacent to Meghanada Pacheri) consists of a five-metre terraced landscape, the remaining section includes a two-metre hardscape area abutting Meghanada Pacheri for access by staff and maintenance purpose.

Ceremonial procession of deities will be facilitated in the 10-metre ‘Antar’ (inner) ‘Pradakshina’ — pedestrian-only path for round the year. Besides, it will be used by the general public for ‘parikrama’ (clockwise circumambulation) of Shreemandira complex.

A 14-metre landscape zone comprises of a garden that would have local varieties of trees and shrub used in Jagannatha culture. The eight-metre outer circumambulation path would be covered by trees on either side. There will be a 10-metre public convenience zone for restrooms, drinking water fountains and information-cum-donation kiosks.

“The eastern plaza of the heritage corridor is proposed as a large open space as many festivals of Shree Mandira, including the Rath Yatra, start from here. This will allow large congregation of devotees to take place in a safe and secure environment. About 90% of the heritage corridor, which is about 24.7 acre out of 26 acres is being developed as open and green spaces,” said a senior government officer.

A queue management facility with capacity of 6,000 people, along with security checking facility has been proposed. The Government said efforts would be made to redevelop ‘Matha’ temples existing within the 75-metre SJHC. These ‘Matha’ temples will be redeveloped by keeping in mind Kalingan style of architecture in general and specific traditions of the ‘Matha’ concerned.

This project is part of Odisha Government’s ₹3,200-crore Augmentation of Basic Amenities and Development of Heritage and Architecture Scheme, which was launched to develop Puri as a ‘World Class Heritage City’.

It was not easy to acquire the land around the temple where people lived for several decades with religious sentiments. Mr. Patnaik felicitated the people who donated their land for the ambitious project.