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LS polls: Porbandar locals pin hope on Minister Mandaviya for facelift of lone Sudama temple

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Porbandar, Apr 21 (PTI) Standing barely a kilometer away from Mahatma Gandhi's birthplace, which now forms a part of the Kirti Mandir located in the heart of the city, is perhaps the country's only temple dedicated to Sudama, who is remembered in lore as Lord Krishna's childhood friend.

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Hitherto neglected, the temple is looking for a facelift with locals hoping that it matches the grandeur and popularity of the Dwarka and Somnath temples in Gujarat.

For the task, they have their hopes pinned on Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, who is contesting from Porbandar Lok Sabha constituency.

The Sudama temple, built around 1902-1907, is situated in the middle of a bustling market area and is a stone's throw from Sudama Chowk.

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Sudama Chowk, an open square complete with a bus depot, as well as taxi and autorickshaw stand, can accommodate 5,000 people, and has been a favoured venue for political rallies and public gatherings.

Fifty-year-old Mahant Rajarshi, a priest who claims his family has been serving the temple for 15 generations, even before the current structure was built, says the temple has been long due for a renovation.

"This historic temple which embodies the friendship between Lord Krishna and Sudama should be developed on the lines of famed temples of Dwarka and Somnath to increase the devotee footfall.

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"The temple sees around 60-80 devotees in a day. On some days, only 20-30 come to the temple. We get our livelihood from whatever they donate," Rajarshi told PTI.

His father, 81-year-old Rajendra Ramavat, and his wife Meera Rajendra, demanded proper lighting and sitting arrangements inside the temple, as well as grant from the state and central government for its upkeep.

Deepak Thobhani, 70, a local devotee, said with Porbandar around 100 kilometers from Dwarka and equidistant from Somnath, the temple finds itself in a strategic location for development of religious corridors.

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Another devotee, Chandrika, concurred with the idea of connecting the three places of worship.

Once refurbished, the temple will be able to draw devotees and tourists, which will boost local businesses, Hussain Abbas Khatri, a shopkeeper at the Sudama Chowk, told PTI.

Khatri claims his shop is one of the oldest in the market. Currently an Amul Parlour, it once used to be an automobile spare parts shop.

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Nilesh Makhwana, another Porbandar native, who now stays in Baroda for business, said, "Everytime I come to my home town I come to this temple. Nothing has changed in the last 30-40 years." Porbandar's BJP Youth President Sagar Modi, who has been striving for the temple's renovation for the last one and half years, said he has written multiple letters to Chief Minister Bhupender Patel and Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the request.

"Everyone knows that Mahatma Gandhi was born here. But very few know that even Sudama was from Porbandar.

"If this temple is developed in the same way as were the Dwarka, Somnath, Kashi Vishwanath temples, Porbandar will a city to be reckoned with and will be known as Gandhi-Sudama Nagri," he said. PTI PLB VN VN

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