Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has requested Union Minister of State for Culture Dr Mahesh Sharma to conduct an inquiry into the alleged replacement of original stone carvings at Konark Sun Temple by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The Konark stone carvings have been reportedly replaced with plain stones.

The CM also urged the the Union minister to direct the ASI to immediately take appropriate steps for preservation and conservation of the World Heritage monument.

The CM has however not got the matter verified by state agencies yet. In his letter to the minister, he has referred to a report published on the matter in a Odia newspaper.

The Konark Sun Temple is a masterpiece of creative genius both in terms of the concept and its realisation. The temple represents a chariot of the Sun God. UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Site.

The temple is embellished with sophisticated and refined iconographical depictions of contemporary life and activities. The Konark Sun Temple represents the climax of Odisha’s temple architecture. It symbolises Odia pride and reflects the ethical and emotional expression of Odia people.

The temple was built in the 13th century AD by king Langula Narasingha Deva with assistance of 1200 sculptors. Only the front temple, of Jagamohana, remains now, and that is also gradually decaying.

The CM quoted the Odia newspaper report to state that the ASI replaced 40 per cent of the artistic stone carvings at the existing Konark Sun Temple with plain stones.

He said the temple deserved more attention from the ASI than what it had got until now. “The ASI needs to focus more on proper conservation of Konark Sun Temple and its art and aesthetic value,” Patnaik wrote, adding: “In the above context, I would request you to cause an inquiry into the matter and also direct ASI to take appropriate steps immediately for preservation and conservation of this magnificent World Heritage monument.”