Intellectuals and leaders of various socio-cultural organizations of Puri have joined together to pursue a Central University in Puri along the lines of BHU (Banaras Hindu University) and many of them hope that this university will be called Puri Hindu University. After a preliminary meeting in Bhubaneswar on December 27th, a larger stakeholders meeting was held in Puri on January 2nd at the book fair grounds near Sri Gundicha temple. Senior advocate of Odisha high court Shri Umaballav Mohapatra was unanimously chosen as the leader to co-ordinate this movement. This was followed by a rally with sankirtan from Singha Dwara to the District Magistrate’s office on January 3rd. A letter addressed to the Honorable prime minister was handed to the officer in charge. The letter was signed by President (or Secretary) of various organizations of Puri such as Puri Vikas Parisad, Odisha Juba chetana sanghathan, Bodhichakra Puri, Sri Jagannath Sanskruti Jagaran Parishad, Puri Bar association, Team Barefoot and Sri Jagannath chetana pratisthana. Other signatories include the President of the Odisha Society of the Americas, Editor of Priyapatra (Puri), a spokesperson of Gobardhan Pitha, President and Secretary of Shrikshetra pustaka mela committee, and a Srimandira Purohit.
The letter elaborated on the various special aspects of Puri, such as, it being one of the four dhams revered by people of the country, it being the abode of Lord Jagannath, and it being a place where many sages (such as Adi Shankaracharya, Narahari Tirtha, Nimbarka Acharya, Jayadeva, Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and Vishnuswami, Madhvacharya) visited and left their imprint. The letter quoted a 2007 PIB that mentioned Raja Jai Singh saying (about Puri in 1580), “The pious land of Lord Jagannath, Orissa is not a land to be conquered but to be worshipped because it is above the aspirations of human being it is the land of Gods”. The letter elaborated on how Lord Jagannath and his philosophy have left deep imprint on other cultures of the world, including Jagannath temples and ratha yatra being held across the world. It talked about Puri as a center of knowledge formation, agglomeration and dissemination from its ancient days and mentioned about the records of 752 mathas (monasteries), and many Kotas, Jagas, Akhadas and ashrams (hermitages) in Puri. The letter talked about Puri’s major contributions in the field of art (various forms: dance, music, painting, sculpture making etc.), architecture, literature, science (especially, astronomy), religion and tradition. In particular, it talked about Puri’s ties with the origin of Odissi music, Odissi dance, Kalinga sculpture forms, Kalinga architecture, contribution of Samanta Chandrasekhar to astronomy, the UNESCO world heritage site of Konark, composition of Gita Gobinda by Sri Jayadev, Pancha sakha and Satyabadi bana vidyalaya, maritime activities of Manikpatna, Jayee Rajaguru’s role in the freedom struggle and recent books on Vedic knowledge. The letter ended with the following prayer: “In conclusion, Puri has been and is a special and revered place in India with global recognition. It continues to be a knowledge center of classical art, culture, language (Sanskrit) and Vedic knowledge. Considering the importance of cross-pollination of these Indian knowledge forms with modern knowledge and its impact on `Brand India’ and `Make in India’, it is imperative that a Central University along the lines of BHU be urgently established in Puri. It is our humble prayer to the honorable Prime Minister that the upcoming central budget in February 2016 should initiate its establishment.”