Thousands of devotees heaved a huge sigh of relief as electricity was finally restored to the famous Lord Jagannath temple in Puri on Wednesday evening,12 days after Cyclone ‘Fani’ devastated the pilgrim town on May 3. A collective roar went up from the pilgrims as the lights were switched on and the 12th-century shrine was awash in all its resplendent glory.
Lights were also back on the entire 3-km long Bada Danda (Grand Road) from the temple gates to the Gundicha temple, the palace of the Gajapati King and the district hospitals, all on the Grand Road. The rest of the town, however, will have to wait a little longer to get power back. “It would take about a week to restore power in the whole town,” Puri Collector Balwant Singh said after the restoration of power at the Puri temple.
Energy secretary Hemant Sharma and senior officials of CESU, the power utility, and the district administration were present when the lights were switched on shortly after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik left the pilgrim town after taking stock of the situation there and announcing a special relief package for the people of Puri.
In the absence of power, the plethora of daily rituals at the temple was being conducted in light produced by diesel generators (DGs) for 12 days after the whole of Puri plunged in the darkness around noon on May 3. The gates of the temple closed earlier than normal because of the power problem.
Besides power, ‘Fani’ had also caused substantial damage to the temple as the steel beams that have gone into the making of the scaffolding for the ongoing repair work swayed violently in the 200 km/hr strong wind and kept hitting the temple top repeatedly. Sources in the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) admitted that the damage caused by ‘Fani’ would delay the completion of the repair work.