A raging controversy erupted on social media today after a Twitter user posted two pictures, allegedly of the hallowed Konark temple. The images raised aspersions on the restoration of the temple carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
In the tweet, the Twitter user asserted that the Konark Temple is being broken as centuries-old murals on the temple walls are being turned into plain bland stones by the ASI on the pretext of restoration.
However, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has now put these rumours to rest.
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 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 pic.twitter.com/m4W7wjYkeJ
— Archaeological Survey of India (@ASIGoI) February 10, 2020
Taking to Twitter, ASI said that the two images which were juxtaposed next to each other as ‘before and after’ are taken from different parts of the temple complex. The ASI clarified that the plain stonework in second image was done in 1980s. “ASI used plain stone only wherein there was no evidence left & 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 ASI said.
In fact, an Indian Express article regarding restoration of Konark temple states that no restoration rules or guidelines were violated while undergoing the gargantuan task of the gentrification of the much-revered Konark Temple. “As a signatory of UNESCO conventions, it is mandated that ASI cannot replicate original representations (carvings). The understanding is that as monuments deteriorate if one keeps on replicating then nothing original will remain,” the article read.
The ASI undertook the gentrification of the temple in 2012. The restoration undertaking is particularly challenging for the ASI as the temple is situated close to the sea and the accumulated salt, sand and the moisture-laden wind on the surface of the temple wall, harms the sculptures.
In addition to this, the nature of the material used in building the temple, Khondolite is a very porous stone and its susceptibility to quick deterioration has only compounded the complexity of the challenge facing ASI engineers. Owing to the imposing grandeur of the Sun Temple, the ASI had pegged the completion of its “scientific cleaning” in 12 years. However, with naysayers raising doubts over its methodology, it may well surpass its proposed deadline.