A plan to restore and preserve the nearly 800-year-old Konark Sun Temple in Odisha would be drawn up soon, after a two-day conference of experts at the end of the month, Union Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel said.
Mr. Patel said a conference, which would be attended by archaeologists, engineers and other experts, would be held in Odisha on February 28 and 29 to take a call on the future restoration plan for the site.
“A decision will be taken after the conference,” he told The Hindu on Thursday.
The 13th Century temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, had been filled with sand and sealed by the British authorities in 1903 in order to stabilise the structure, an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) official said. A scientific study was carried out by the Roorkee-based Central Building Research Institute from 2013 till 2018 to ascertain the temple’s structural stability as well as the status of the filled-in sand, the official said.
The official said the study found that the sand filled in over 100 years ago had settled, leading to a gap of about 17 feet. The official, however, added that the structure was found to be stable. The ASI was in the process of removing the scaffolding erected for the study, the official said, adding that all the scaffolding would be taken down by the end of the month.
Among the potential choices before the government would be to fill in more sand or to remove all the sand and put in place alternate support, according to Culture Ministry sources.
Mr. Patel had visited the Sun Temple on January 24 to review the preservation plans, a Culture Ministry statement had said.