Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: A few days back, a tweep had shared two pictures of Sun Temple in Konark alleging that some of the centuries-old murals have been replaced with plain stones. A massive uproar by Twitterati over the alleged replacement of actual stone carvings has forced the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to come up with a clarification.

Taking to Twitter, ASI has refuted the reports of replacement of sculptures as false and misleading. It has clarified that the image with sculptures is from Natya Mandapa while the plain stone images are from the plinth of Jagamohan (the main temple).

“The tweet regarding the replacement of sculptures with plain stones is false and misleading. The 2 images shown in the tweet are from different locations. The image with sculptures is from Natya Mandapa while the plain stone images are from the plinth of Jagamohan (the main temple),” stated ASI.

The tweet further mentioned that ASI has replaced no surviving sculpture at the Sun Temple. "The plain stonework shown in the image was done in the mid-1980s. ASI used plain stone only wherein there was no evidence left and as per ASI’s the then archaeological policy only such portions were filled with plain stones. ASI would like to confirm that no sculpture has been replaced," the clarification read.

Speaking to OTV in this regard, ASI Superintendent (Odisha circle), Arun Kumar Mallick said, "ASI installed plain stones at only those spots of Konark Sun Temple where sculptures were missing and that was done long back. Plain stones were used because we have no idea how exactly the carvings looked like at those spots, or else we would have done retrofitting. Those stones that were missing from that particular portion, were given a plain look."

The ASI Superintendent further mentioned that the national conservation body doesn't compromise on the authenticity of a heritage structure. "We never disturb the fabric and authenticity of any monument by new carvings. I want to categorically state that we have not replaced any cultural murals with plain stones. Because neither we nor the heritage lovers coming from across the globe would appreciate that," he said.

State Culture Secretary Manoranjan Panigrahi too opined that whatever changes are visible, were done much before. He said that ASI has followed guidelines laid down under National Conservation Policy for preservation and protection of Sun Temple.