ASI starts putting up working platform to assess condition of Konark Temple 

Experts are contemplating the advisability of removing potentially harmful sand stock from within the Centuries-old structure

Published - August 29, 2023 05:23 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR

The Archaeological Survey of India has begun to put up scaffolds around the 13th-Century Konark Sun Temple, one of the seven wonders of India, for assessing the structural condition inside the famous temple of Konark, in Odisha’s Puri district.

The Archaeological Survey of India has begun to put up scaffolds around the 13th-Century Konark Sun Temple, one of the seven wonders of India, for assessing the structural condition inside the famous temple of Konark, in Odisha’s Puri district. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Archaeological Survey of India has started putting up working platforms around the 13th-Century Konark Sun Temple, which is dubbed one of seven wonders of India, for assessing the atmospheric and structural and conditions inside the famous temple, which is stocked with tonnes of sand.

The series of assessments would help experts decide whether the sand could be drawn out from the Centuries-old structure. Britishers had filled Jagamohan, the temple’s assembly hall, with sand 119 years ago to provide the edifice stability.

“The issue of sand removal from Konark Temple is a highly contentious one. Some are of the view that it would be damaging for the temple if we empty sand while others want the temple to be completely burdened off sand,” Dibishada Brajasundar Garnayak, Superintending Archaeologist of ASI’s Puri circle.

“No timeframe has been fixed for the removal of sand from Konark. We are now in an initial stage. We are creating a working platform to examine stability of Jagamohan. We will carry out a small drill in the temple to ascertain the strength of structure,” said Mr. Garnayak.

As per an earlier assessment, there is a vacuum of 16 feet from the top of Jagamohan to the level of sand stock. Laser scanning has been done to monitor cracks in the temple’s structures.

A technical core committee has been formed by the Director General of ASI. It comprises Additional DG (conservation), structural and mechanical engineers, independent archaeologists, historians, representatives of IIT-Madras and the Central Building Research Institute. The committee will examine the findings before taking any decision on sand removal.

The Konark Sun Temple is famous for its exquisite stone carvings. Dedicated to the Sun deity, the temple was constructed by King Narasingha Deva I around 1250. The entire temple was shaped like a giant chariot of the Sun with a set of spokes and stone carvings. The temple has, however, undergone gradual depreciation due to natural and man-made reasons. The main temple has completely collapsed.

When stones began to fall from Jagamohan, the British held consultations for its preservation. It was then decided to fill the interiors with sand all the way to the top after closing the doorways. The sand filling was completed in 1905.

According to experts, the sand stock created a warm damp environment inside Jagamohan, an ideal breeding ground for the formation of harmful moss, which severely degrades Khondalite stone, and the bricks began to crumble. This, they fear, would upset the balance of the corbeled arches and make the Jagamohan susceptible to collapse.

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