Odisha’s Samaleshwari temple & economy intitatives

Celebrating the grandeur of the Maa Samaleswari Temple is not merely an aesthetic pursuit but a commitment to fostering economic growth through religious tourism.

| Updated: 18 February, 2024 12:06 am IST

In a commendable move, the state of Odisha has embarked on a transformative journey with the inauguration of the Samaleswari Temple Area Management and Local Economy Initiatives (SAMALEI) on January 27. Spearheaded by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, this initiative to transform the surrounding of the revered shrine of Sambalpur district not only amplifies the spiritual significance of the region but also promises to redefine the socio-economic fabric of western Odisha.

At the core of the SAMALEI plan is the comprehensive development of the temple precinct, an endeavor that radiates a divine aura, embracing visitors and pilgrims in an ambiance of spirituality. The project places a strategic emphasis on upgrading infrastructure in and around the 39 acres of area around the temple, aiming to provide modern amenities that enhance the overall experience of devotees.

Celebrating the grandeur of the Maa Samaleswari Temple is not merely an aesthetic pursuit but a commitment to fostering economic growth through religious tourism. SAMALEI unfolds a vision that goes beyond the spiritual realm, envisaging opportunities for the local populace. With a budget of ₹200 Crore, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched this ambitious project on February 17, 2021.

SAMALEI’s holistic approach encompasses the creation of modern facilities, a heritage corridor, and peripheral development of the temple, including the development of the Mahanadi riverside over a sprawling 40-acre area. The infusion of contemporary amenities is set to redefine the pilgrimage experience, attracting a larger influx of tourists and devotees alike.

The SAMALEI project’s success lies not only in its commitment to spirituality but also in its potential to generate economic opportunities for the region’s residents. The development of infrastructure for pilgrims, such as the Parikrama, Queue Management System, and Landscaped Area, exemplifies the meticulous planning involved. Kudos to the inclusion of a diverse range of facilities like a Cafeteria, Bhojanalaya, and Public Toilets, which contribute to an enhanced pilgrimage and tourism experience.

The Heritage corridor surrounding the temple, adorned with international standard heritage lighting, offers visitors a circumambulatory experience intertwined with enthralling landscapes. The Mahanadi Arati platform and the riverfront’s raised platform create dedicated spaces directly connected to the temple precinct, enriching associated rituals with the mighty Mahanadi. The watchtower cum clock tower serves as a visual narrative, offering an overview of the entire campus to visitors.

Maa Samaleswari Temple stands as not only a religious landmark but a testament to Odisha’s cultural heritage. With roots tracing back to ancient times, the temple reflects the architectural and artistic evolution of the region. SAMALEI, by preserving and enhancing the temple’s sanctity, not only facilitates a spiritual journey but also invites visitors to delve into the rich cultural and historical tapestry of Odisha.

 

The economic impact of the Samaleswari temple on the local landscape is palpable, with footfall doubling from 5,000 to 10,000 per day, poised to reach 20,000 per day within a year. This is a testament to SAMALEI’s potential to not only benefit local craftspeople and weaver families but also boost the Mission Shakti groups through organized sales.

 

SAMALEI’s ripple effect extends beyond the temple periphery, enhancing economic activities in hospitality, transport, and ancillary functions. The project’s direct employment benefits, facilitated through CFMS maintenance, and the creation of ancillary infrastructure promise a comprehensive economic uplift for the city of Sambalpur.

 

Despite encountering impediments along the way, the SAMALEI project stands as a testament to the unwavering resolve and vision of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Bolstered by the direct supervision of 5T and Nabin Odisha Chairman Kartik Pandian, SAMALEI has not only overcome challenges but has emerged as a shining example of how visionary initiatives can reshape the cultural, spiritual, and economic landscape of a region.

This has been authored by Manoj Mishra, IT Secretary in the Government of Odisha.

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