Huge cracks have developed in some places in the Kedarnath shrine, which faced the fury of last month’s floods, although the sanctum sanctorum has escaped damage, according to preliminary assessment of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
The ASI has been given the responsibility to restore the Kedarnath temple, which was damaged in the deluge and landslides last month. ASI’s Dehradun circle team visited the shrine on July 11, to make a first hand assessment of damage.
“Our three-member team has visited the temple on July 11, and handed over the preliminary report to higher officials in Delhi. Report suggests that there was not much visible damage to the garbha griha,” Atul Bhargava, the Superintendent Archaeologist, Dehradun circle, told PTI.
“Maximum damage is to the eastern part of the Mandapa. The Ishaan temple is completely washed away in the flood. Several stones have been dislodged from the western gate and the exterior part of sanctum sanctorum. But it is really difficult to assess the actual damage till the debris is removed. There is still 2 to 6 feet debris there,” he said.
Meanwhile Dr. B.R. Mani, assistant director general and the head of ASI team for restoration work of Kedarnath, said that this is just a preliminary assessment of damage and actual picture will be clear after the inspection of experts team.
Mr. Mani was supposed to visit the shrine in the first week of July, but could not go due to bad weather. Later, the team of Dehradun circle compising R.K. Singh (assistant superintendent archaeologist), Manoj Joshi (AA) and Y.S. Nayal (draftman grade one) inspected the site.
It is still not clear that how long it will take to restore the temple and Mani said that it is premature to talk about it.
“Till we don’t have the actual picture, it is premature to say anything about it. We have the preliminary report from Dehradun circle. We will seek the help of experts from organisations like Geological Survey of India to draft a strategy. I don’t think we need any foreign help in this regard as ASI experts are capable enough,” he said.
Mr. Bhargava also said that he had alerted the temple committee about the possibility of dislodging of stones from various places in the temple.
“I was in the team which had visited the temple on the request of temple committee in October last year. I had told them then that some portion in the Mandapa area is almost swinging and the stones might dislodge from there,” he said.
There was also a proposal in 2004 to bring Kedarnath temple under ASI by declaring it a protected monument but the temple committee did not give consent. When asked about the possibility of any initiative in future in this regard, Mani said it was not the focus right now.
“Our focus is to see the monument is conserved with the help of state government. The matter of initiative for making it a protected site will be considered later,” he said.
Keywords: Kedarnath shrine, Uttarakhand floods, flash floods, Uttarakhand landslides, Char Dham yatra, Uttarakhand rescue, disaster management, Indian Army rescue, Badrinath, Kedarnath, National Disaster Relief Force, Uttarakhand pilgrimage, Archaeological Survey of India