Temple architecture

Sand removal from Sun Temple to begin soon – the New Indian Express

Express news service

BHUBANEWAR: More than a century after the British filled the towering architectural marvel with sand to prevent it from collapsing, the process of evacuating the sealed Jagamohan (Mukhasala) from the Sun Temple in Konark will likely begin the month next.

The archaeological wonder is Odisha’s only World Heritage Site (WHS). The Archeological Survey of India (ASI), its guardian, has finalized the modalities for evaluating the Jagamohan before the sand is removed. The Indian Institute of Technology-Madras is assisting the conservation organization in the colossal task that must be completed after a hiatus of 118 years.

Sand removal was made necessary after an endoscopic study through an existing hole at the top of the Amalaka by the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) to examine structural damage in the Jagamohan found that the infill of sand sagged about 12.5 feet and some of the stones had dislodged.

As part of the plan drawn by ASI, in the first phase, a 6ft X 6ft window will be made on the west side of Jagamohan to create an access. There is already an old opening made by the British near the spot. For this purpose, a sturdy working platform is provided above the Antarala (inner sanctum). The masonry steps will be removed for the creation of the window.

ASI proposes to do two cores – one at the old opening made by the British and another at the bottom of the Antarala. This will help to understand the masonry of the wall. Next, a 6ft X 6ft window will be created on the west side of Jagamohan near the first level Pidha to create access to the structure for inspection, documentation, and finalization of the measures to be taken to conserve it.

The call for tenders for the works will be launched shortly and the works are expected to last four to five years. This was revealed during a workshop on “The History and Legacy of Sun Worship” at IIT-Bhubaneswar where ASI (Bhubaneswar Circle) leader Arun Malik gave a presentation. Sand was filled in the Jagamohan from 1903 to 1909 and since then it has remained sealed.

Sand removal from the Sun Temple will begin soon

After Union Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel announced the Center’s approval to remove sand from inside the monument last year, ASI formed a four-member expert committee, including an associate professor of structural engineering at IIT-Madras Arun Menon. The panel examined the monument and the existing studies to decide how to remove the sand.

The VC of Shiv Nadar University, Chennai, and former director of CSIR-CBRI, Professor Sriman Kumar Bhattacharyya said that there is a gap between the layer of sand and the roof of Jagamohan, it can be said that the part top of the structure is in a state barn. “Since the sand has settled, we can say that the upper part is doing quite well without any support system. If the sand has to be removed, it should be done very carefully and removed in layers and not all at once, ”suggested Professor Bhattacharyya who worked on the conservation of the Sun Temple and Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri. A supportive arrangement needs to be put in place as has been done in the Shri Jagannath temple, he added.

The structural engineer said that since the strength of the Konark Temple stone varies in different parts of the monument, the exercise should be done with extreme caution. The CBRI estimated the mass of Jagamohan at the top of the pedestal at about 46,000 tonnes. Environmentalists have said the Sun Temple in Konark may be the only monument in the world where sand has been filled to stabilize it.