Around 40 earthen ovens at the famed Jagannath temple in Puri were found vandalised on Sunday, officials said.
The 'chulhas' (ovens) are used for cooking the 'Mahaprasad', which is offered to the lord, in the 'Rosa Ghar', the world's largest kitchen. About 300 quintals of rice are cooked at the kitchen every day, they said.
"Around 40 chulhas were vandalised in the Rosa Ghar. We have sought a report in this regard and strict action will be taken against the persons responsible for the incident," district collector Samarth Verma said after visiting the spot along with Superintendent of Police VK Singh.
The CCTV footage of the incident is being examined to identify those involved in the incident, he said.
A joint inquiry by police and temple officials has been ordered, he said.
The incident will affect devotees in getting the 'Mahaprasad', but things will be normalised in two days, Verma said.
The rituals of the temple were not affected as only one or two 'kotha chulhas', on which the temple administration prepares the offerings for the lord, were vandalised and the rest are intact, he said.
However, there was a delay in serving the 'Sakal Dhoopa' (morning offering) by 30 minutes, an official said.
According to the Records of Rights (RoR) of the 12th-century shrine, there are 240 registered ovens in the kitchen, of which 40 were damaged.
As only 'suaras' (cooks) are allowed in the kitchen, it is suspected that some servitors may be involved in vandalising the 'chulhas' on Saturday night, following a dispute over completing traditional rituals, officials said.
Only earthen pots are used to cook the 'Mahaprasad' with around 400 cooks and 200 assistants directly engaged in the process. It is sold to the devotees in Ananda Bazar.
The incident of vandalism raised concerns over the security of the temple.