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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Puri: UNESCO, in its website describes Konark Sun temple as, “On the shores of the Bay of Bengal, bathed in the rays of the rising sun, the temple at Konarak is a monumental representation of the sun god Surya's chariot.” However, the centuries old temple's structural integrity needs protection and for the purpose, the National Conference on Conservation of Sun Temple was held at Yatri Nivas in Konark and was attended by Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel, Odisha Tourism minister Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi and the officials of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) & Central Building Research Institute (CBRI).

Briefing the media after meeting, Union Minister Patel said, “People want us to remove the sand that was filled inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple by the British in 1905. But we will take a decision only after a detailed report is received."

It has been a long standing demand from many quarters to remove the sand out of the sanctum sanctorum so that visitors & tourists go inside the temple.

NC Pal, Superintendent Engineer of PWD said, “All the experts, UN delegates and archaeologists in the past had suggested removal of sand out of the temple and to support the structure with steel or stone columns. So the CBRI’s opinion to fill the temple with more sand really surprised me.”

Achal Mittal, a CBRI delegate at the meeting said, “There is no imminent danger for the temple right now. But we have observed that the sand has been gradually moving out and that seem to be a major cause of weakening walls.”

“We can either pack the temple with more sand and secure its structure or remove the sand out to repair it, which is a much arduous process,” added Mittal.

State Tourism Minister, Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi said, “We have been conducting workshops with ASI from time to time. They have assured that there is no threat to the Konark Temple and they will be taking all necessary steps to safeguard it in the future.”

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