The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided to drain out the sand fillings that were used to close all the four entrances of the porch at the Konark Sun temple over a century ago. Global experts will be roped in to remove the sand, which was used to fill the gateways in order to preserve the 13th century monument.
Orissa's culture secretary Gopinath Mohanty told the Hindustan Times, "For more than a century now, the inner room of the temple has been filled with sand. It was feared that the temple's roof could collapse if the sand was taken out. But the Union Culture Ministry, through ASI, wants to engage global experts to drain out the sand completely so that visitors can get to see the inner walls of the temple. The Union culture secretary has informed us about this. For this, a global tender would soon be floated."
DN Dimri, superintending archaeologist of ASI in charge of Orissa, told HT, "In 1903, the insides of the Jagamohan (porch) was filled with sand after building a parallel wall. A hole was built on the top portion of the Jagamohan and sand was poured into it. Studies have been taken in the past to determine if this sand can be removed. It will be a very sensitive operation and therefore a global tender is being floated. The objective is to remove the sand with minimum interference to the existing temple structure".
Dimri adds that if the sand is taken out, then visitors can walk through the Jagamohan again.
Though the Konark Sun Temple was built in the 13th century, the British government focused on its conservation only in the early part of the 20th century. In February 1901, the then Archaeological Surveyor of Bengal Circle, T Block, asked the Government of Bengal to unearth the buried portion of the temple compound and preserve the decaying portions.
Apart from this plan, a peripheral development plan for the Konark Sun Temple has been finalised, for which the Indian Oil Foundation will spend Rs 13 crore.