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Konark Temple Conservation

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The Konark temple in the state of Odisha is one of the most recognized tourist place in India. It is famous for its Culturally enrich large Sun temple at the beautiful Shore of Bay of Bangal. The temple is now not in its original form. Its main part is shattered, then also it attracts a large number of tourist through its remains. It is decleared one of the famous World heritage Monument of India. This temple was build in 13th century and had been Centre of attraction for more than 500 years, but due to lack of proper maintaince and Ignorance it was deteriorated. It is only last part of 19th century when Government starts paying its attention towards conservation of this monuments. The conservation steps that were taken very costly for it restoration.

At first, in 1806 Marine Board requested the Vice-President in Council to take measures against the removal of the stones and tries to prevent the removal of stones. Then in 1838, the Asiatic Society of Bengal requested the Government to take care of this famous temple but The Deputy Governor of Bengal, however, declined to interfere with the temple, except in case of casualty and emergency. At last due to the ignorance of Government in 1859 the Asiatic Society of Bengal tried a failed attempt in 1867 to remove the nava-graha architrave to the Indian Museum in Calcutta. In 1881, When Bengal Government ordered Public Works Department to take preservation works, then Besides jungle clearance, the only work done in 1882-83 was that the colossal pairs of elephants, horses and lions-on-elephants, was moved away from original position and misplaced in wrong direction.

In February 1901, T. Block, Archeological Surveyor of the Bengal Circle, submitted a note to the Government of Bengal suggesting the need of unearthing of the buried part of the temple compound, the reflection of the broken mouldings on the walls of the porch and the preservations of the portions which is standing in a dangerous position. The Government of Bengal accepted the suggestions, and an estimate was p immediately prepared for clearing the sand around the porch and the compound wall and excavating rubbish. This action brought light to the superb berm along with horses and wheels and several structures including the Mukhasala. To save Mukhasala they constructed another wall inside the Mukhasala of 15 feet breadth and closed all the doors of Mukhasala after filling up the inside by sand. These measures saved the Mukhasala or whatever remained of it from the ravages of time. In 1905 the repair works of Mukhasala and Naata Mandir was completed . In 1906, the two lion-on-elephants, installed on the top of the Bhoga-mandapa, were gently brought down and planted in front of the eastern staircase insted of original position. The clearance of the mammoth pile of debris to the west of the porch brought light to the existing portion of the sanctuary with three chlorite images of the parsva devatas and the carved platform inside the sanctum sanctorum with a large number of chlorite sculptures.

For the security of these images, entrance was blocked and niches were build. In 1906, a large-scale plantation of the casuarina and poonang trees in the direction of the sea was done to check the advance of the drifting sand and to minimize the effect of the abrasive action of the sand-laden winds. In 1909, the removal of sand and debris behind the sanctuary exposed the extant portion of a beautiful Mayadevi temple completing the intal work. A continious Attention to the monuments was given by repairing and rearranging thre missing scattered pieces of stones. Lightning-conductors were also fixed, while a sculpture-shed was constructed in 1915 to house the images and important carved pieces. Main temple and Mayadevi temple received chemical treatment by way of removal of moss and lichen, elimination of injurious salts by the application of paper-pulp and fungicidal treatment for some years beginning with 1938-39 with anually a small scale repairs till 1953 like vegetation mainting etc. Later the monument was inspected in 1949 by the Executive Engineer of the Archeological Survey of India, who observed certain major damages and felt that it needs a large-scale repair and chemical treatment. In 1950, the Government of India appointed a committee of experts and asked for recommendation to preserve this monument.

The principal recommendations of the Committee were: (I) testing of humidity contents inside the sealed porch of main temple; (II) making of the entire main temple watertight from outside by grouting, filling in of joints, rectification of wrong slopes and concreting the tops of the irregular masonry; (III) removal of sand from the compound with necessary provision for drainage of water; (IV) rebuilding of the damaged compound-wall to the height of the original coping; (V) chemical treatment of the surface; and (VI) planting of a thick belt of casuarina and cashew-nut trees in the direction of the sea so as to produce a screening and shielding effect for the temple both from sand drift and consequent attrition. Since then the recommendations have been persistently followed up by the Archeological Survey of India. Now the Central and State Governments together are taking various steps for preservation of the temple and improvement of Konark.

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