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History of Jagannath Temple of Puri

Jagannanth temple of Puri:Old PictureHistorical evidences avouch the construction of the present temple of Lord Jagannath to a period between the 11th & 12th Century A.D. There are however stray claims by proponents of Buddhism that the present structure is in fact a renovated work over an already existent structure which was dedicated to Lord Budha. As the original temple weakened, a new temple was built over its debris by King “Ananta Varman Chodaganga Dev. This fact is though not supported widely, has some takers who point out that with a base 30 feet, the temple might well have been built over the remains of an older temple.

The construction of the Jagannath Temple at Puri was initiated by the founder King of the Ganga Dynasty, King Chodaganga Deva in 1235 A.D. The construction was however finished by King Anangabhima Deva and the deities were installed in the temple in the same year. The management of the temple from then on had been undertaken by the ruling king of the state.

It continued uninterrupted till 1558 when Orissa was conquered by the Afghan Nawab of Bengal. The Jagannath temple was ravaged by the Muslims during this period under their ruthless commander “Kalapahad”. Subsequently an independent Hindu Kingdom was established by “Ramachandra Deb” at Khurda. He took over the management of the temple affairs having consecrated the temples and re installed the deities. The situation remained unchanged even after the Mughal conquest of Orissa. Following the invasion of the Marathas in 1751, the management of the temple passed over to the Marathas directly and they ran the temple affairs with unmatched dexterity. To their credit they even took measures to popularize the Car Festival of Puri and make the event a properly managed one.

The change of guards in the state in the year 1803 with the Britishers taking over, resulted in one more change in the temple management in 1803.The Britishers allowed the Puri King to manage the temple. They recognized that  Puri's King (Gajapati Maharaj) as the Superintendent of the Temple and granted some revenue rights and privileges to the temple to run its affairs. The same position continues till date.

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