Odisha to take up with ASI regarding replacement of sculpted stones in Sun Temple: Official

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Updated: February 11, 2020 10:33:22 PM

Last month, when Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Prahlad Singh Patel during his Odisha visit had said he would take up Konark conservation matter with the ASI. "It is alleged that sculpted stones at the temple have been replaced by plain stones. If a replica can be made, we should not go for plain stone," the minister had said.

The ASI had put the scaffoldings around the temple since 2013.

Odisha government would take up the matter relating to the alleged replacement of sculpted stones with plain ones in the Sun Temple at Konark with the Archaeological Survey of India, a senior official said on Tuesday. The issue resurfaced recently following a section of media and certain postings in the social media on sculpted stone works replaced by plain stones in the wall of the 13th century temple structure.

“The recent developments have come to our notice. We will certainly analyse the matter take it up with the ASI,”
Odisha Culture secretary Manoranjan Panigrahi told reporters. The recent incident, however, comes to the fore after
the authorities of ASI recently removed iron scaffolding from the Konark Temple, also known as Black Pagoda which is a UN protected monument. The ASI had put the scaffoldings around the temple since 2013.

“We removed the scaffoldings after study of certain facts on the structural stability of the ancient monument,” said ASIs Odisha circle Superintendent Arun Kumar Mallick. Replying a question on the allegation of replacing stone carvings by plain stone, Mallick said: “ASI has installed plain stones at places of the Konark Sun Temple where sculptures were missing. These carvings were not visible, Therefore, 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.”

Mallick also claimed that the ASI never disturbs the basic carvings of any monument by new work. “I can say for certain that the ASI has not replaced any artistic work piece with plain stones,” he said. In the wake of a row over the issue, the ASI has issued clarification through its official twitter post and described such allegations as “misleading.”

“The tweet regarding 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 stones images are from the plinth of Jagmohana (the main temple)

“, the ASI said in its twitter post.

The ASI further said: “The plain stone work shown in the image was done in mid1980s. ASI used plain stone only
wherein there was no evidence left & as per ASIs the then archaeological policy only such portions were filled with
plain stones. ASI would like to confirm that no sculpture has been replaced

J.”

Last month, when Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Prahlad Singh Patel during his Odisha visit had
said he would take up Konark conservation matter with the ASI. “It is alleged that sculpted stones at the temple have
been replaced by plain stones. If a replica can be made, we should not go for plain stone,” the minister had said.

The issue was also earlier raised by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in November 2018. He had then in a letter to Union Culture Minister had urged him to look into the conservation of the Konark Temple.

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