Bhubaneswar, Sep 9 The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Thursday performed Bhumi Pujan (ground breaking ceremony) rituals to remove sand from the ‘garbhagriha’ (sanctum sanatorium) of the Sun temple in Odisha’s Konark.

After doing proper study, detailed documentation and holding discussions with various experts and engineers for the last two years, a safe system has been prepared to remove sand from the temple so that people can enter into the 13th century shrine, said Arun Mallick, superintendent of ASI.

“Keeping in view the direction of the Orissa High Court and assurance of the Union minister to Parliament, we have initiated the process today,” he said.

After penetrating into the sanctum sanatorium by dragging a hole, the inside condition of the temple will be examined and accordingly, the sand will be removed through an automatic mechanical working platform, informed the ASI official.

A reputed private construction company will provide technical support for the work while ASI officials will be deployed for the removal of sand, he added.

The ASI aims to remove the sand in three years in a scientific way by using latest technology.

The decision to remove the sand was taken at a national conference organised by ASI at Konark in 2020. Several experts from around the world participated in the conference and suggested the removal of sand from the ‘Jagmohanm’ of the Sun Temple to further strengthen the structure.

Experts believe that the removal of sand will increase the lifespan of the temple by several hundred years.

Built by King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, the 13th century late-style Kalingan temple forms part of the golden triangle of Odisha, along with Puri and Bhubaneswar, and attracts tourists, pilgrims, and history and art lovers.

The sand was filled inside the Jagmohan of the temple during British time in 1903 to protect and conserve the Sun Temple.

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