A century after British sealed it, ASI to remove sand from Konark Sun Temple
More than a century after the 13th century world heritage monument-- the Sun Temple in Konark was filled with sand, the Archaeological Survey of India now plans to remove the sand from the Jagamohan (assembly hall).
At the end of the two-day national conference on ‘Conservation of Sun Temple’ held in Konark on Saturday, union culture minister Prahlad Singh Patel said the sand will be removed from the structure. “Everyone has been waiting to see the sand removed from the structure and it should remain there for the next 500-700 years. I have asked ASI to prepare a report on the modalities of removal of sand,” said Patel.
The Central Building Research Institute at Roorkee that conducted a scientific study into the temple’s structural stability between 2013 and 2018 will assist ASI in the work.
The British had filled the Jagamohan with sand and sealed it in 1903 to ensure the stability of the monument. A hole was built on the top portion of the Jagamohan and sand was poured into it. However, those huge amounts of sand have caused cracks on the structure from inside.
ASI officials said a committee of experts would be formed to decide on the outlets through which the sand can be removed.
The decision to remove sand from the interiors of Jagamohan came weeks after ASI officials removed the iron scaffoldings around the temple, 30 years after they were put up making it it easy for visitors to view the exquisite artwork on its wall without the iron poles coming in between them. Iron scaffoldings came up around the temple in 1992 so that CBRI experts could climb up and study the structure.
The 800-year-old monument built by Ganga dynasty king Langula Narasingha Dev to worship the Sun God has already lost its main temple and Natya Mandap and only the Jagamohan(porch) remains. About 1,200 stone craftsmen and artists constructed the temple over a period of 16 years using Chlorite and sandstone. Though there is a lot of mystery as to how the temple was built, in 1972, the book “New Light on Sun Temple of Konark” documented the construction process of the temple in great detail.