Puri: Demolition of establishments around Puri Srimandir has led to the discovery of an ‘underground secret chamber’ from the premise of Emar Mutt in the pilgrim town.
The structure, presumably an underground bunker, was found after Emar Mutt, one of the oldest mutts in Puri belonging to the Ramanuj sect, was razed. The workers were asked to dismantle the room without damaging the wall.
Following this, the dark bunker filled with spider webs was spotted. The new finding has raised curiosity among locals.
While colonies of bats were spotted immediately after venturing into the secret dungeon, the presence of various reptiles is also suspected. Concerned officials also informed the snake helpline as a precautionary measure.
The secret establishment is believed to be a six-storied chamber where paddy, grains along with other valuables were kept for emergency purpose. The food grains and other agricultural produces were believed to be cooked for the Holy Trinity.
It is also said that the chambers also acted as shelters to Mahants (abbots) and storage rooms during Afghan and Mughal invasion.
Experts involved with the project said that the chambers appeared to have been constructed around 900 years ago. After being neglected for centuries, the chambers have also developed a miniature forest including banyan and other trees.
Reportedly, district administration officials and experts are also present on the spot. Hundreds of police personnel along with magistrates have been deployed at the site and the roads leading to the demolition site sealed.
The ancient mutt was demolished as per the decision of the state government to clear all structures on the 75-metre radius of the Meghanad Pacheri (boundary wall) around the 12th-century Srimandir for safety and security of the temple as well as the devotees.
Emar Mutt, one of the oldest mutts in Puri belonging to the Ramanuj sect, and the famous Raghunandan Library on its first floor were demolished on Wednesday. The heritage library having some rare palm leaf manuscripts and books on various subjects in Sanskrit, Odia and Bengali languages, was established in 1921 by the then ‘mahant’ of the Emar Mutt.
The mutt, located in front of Lion’s gate (Singhadwara) of Jagannath temple, was established over five acres of land by Ramanujacharya. His disciple Srinivascharya had named it as Emar Mutt. Apart from being the oldest, Emar Mutt is also considered the richest mutt in the State.
The mutt was declared unsafe in 2006 and six years later, the unsafe portions were demolished by the district administration.
During the 1866 famine in which thousands perished, many people rushed to Puri for survival. The then ‘mahanta’ had opened his grainary and fed hundreds of people and distributed alms daily to needy at the sprawling platform in front of the mutt.
He also erected a tower on the mutt premises to provide a place for foreigners to get a view of the temple up to ‘Baisi Pahacha’. His efforts were appreciated by the then British administrators.
Most of the ‘Khaja’ sellers also operated from shops in the mutt until the demolition drive.
In 2011, police stumbled upon 522 silver bricks during a raid on the Puri mutt. The bricks — each costs Rs 18-20 lakh — were stacked in four big wooden boxes in a rundown room that had been lying closed for a long time.
The huge stock of silver was found from four sindukas (wooden containers) placed inside a room, closed from all sides by brick walls, in the Emar Mutt in front of the Sri Jagannath Temple.
As per the present market price, the value of the metal is estimated to be around Rs 90 crore.