After a two-day conference of expert Union, Culture Minister said, a plan to restore and preserve the nearly 800-year-old Konark Sun Temple in Odisha would be drawn up soon.

  • A conference would be held in Odisha on February 28 and 29 to take a call on the future restoration plan for the site.
  • It would be attended by archaeologists, engineers, and other experts.

The need for restoration:

  • The temple had been filled with sand and sealed by the British authorities in 1903 in order to stabilize the structure.
  • A scientific study was carried out by the Roorkee-based Central Building Research Institute from 2013 till 2018 to ascertain the temple’s structural stability as well as the status of the filled-in sand.
  • According to a study conducted the sand filled in over 100 years ago had settled which is leading to a gap of about 17 feet. However, the structure is stable.

Options available to restore the temple structure:

  1. to fill in more sand 
  2. to remove all the sand 
  3. put in place alternate support

Konark temple: 13th-century temple

  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The temple is attributed to king Narasinga Deva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty about 1250 CE.
  • Key features: Dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya, what remains of the temple complex has the appearance of a 100-foot (30 m) high chariot with immense wheels and horses, all carved from stone.
  • It is a classic illustration of the Odisha style of Architecture or Kalinga Architecture.
  • The walls of the temple from the temple's base through the crowning elements are ornamented with reliefs, many finished to jewelry-quality miniature details. The terraces contain stone statues of male and female musicians holding various musical instruments.

Odisha style architecture:

The Kaḷinga architectural style is a style of Hindu architecture that flourished in the ancient Kalinga previously known as Utkal and part of the kingdom of Magadha or present eastern Indian state of Odisha. 

The style consists of three distinct types of temples: 

  1. Rekha Deula,
  2. Pidha Deula and
  3. Khakhra Deula. 

The former two are associated with Vishnu, Surya, and Shiva temples while the third is mainly with Chamunda and Durga temples. The Rekha Deula and Khakhara Deula house the sanctum sanctorum while the Pidha Deula constitutes outer dancing and offering halls.

ASI-Archeological survey of India

  • The Archaeological Survey of India is an Indian government agency attached to the Ministry of Culture that is responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in the country. 
  • It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who also became its first Director-General.

World Heritage Convention:

  • The most significant feature of the 1972 World Heritage Convention is that it links together in a single document the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties. 
  • The Convention recognizes the way in which people interact with nature, and the fundamental need to preserve the balance between the two.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a site that is nominated under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's International World Heritage program.
  • The program aims to catalog and preserve sites of outstanding importance, either cultural or natural, to the common heritage of humankind.
  • A World Heritage Site is a place on earth having a special cultural or physical significance and outstanding universal value to humanity.

World Heritage Committee:

  • The Committee is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties. 
  • It has the final say on whether a property is inscribed on the World Heritage List. 
  • It examines reports on the state of conservation of inscribed properties and asks States Parties to take action when properties are not being properly managed. It also decides on the inscription or deletion of properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

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