ASI to start conservation work at Kedarnath temple this week

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is set to begin conservation work at Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand this week, with immediate focus on reinforcing the ancient structure’s foundation.

“We are not sure what happened to its (temple’s) foundation because it is in 8 to 10 feet of mud and moraine. At the moment, it is all right but fragile. We have to see temple does not collapse in heavy snowfall during winter. This will be our first priority,” Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch said at a press conference.

The ASI has been advised to submit an action plan by September 9 for its implementation in the first phase of temple conservation work which is set to begin after September 11, she said.

The initial work will include cleaning of the interior of temple, packing and consolidating loose stones and taking estampage of inscription within the temple.
The first phase of the conservation works will cost approximately Rs 2.4 crore, she added.

Referring to reports of various agencies including Geological Survey of India (GSI), the minister said no physical damages were visible inside the temple, though the columns in Garbha-Griha and upper portions of walls in Antarala have water seepage due to loose joints between roof and walls.


Deposits

Walls in the entire interior have layers of soot deposit and almost all sculptures within the interior, including on the door jamb, have thick deposit of ghee.

The expert teams from these agencies also found haphazard way of wiring and electrification inside the temple, suggesting that they may be hazardous.

Preliminary report by the ASI also indicated that overall the temple super-structure was in “fair state of conservation”, although portions of the temple on northern, western and eastern sides indicated moderate impact of the severe jolt due to floods and boulder movement.

The temple structure was saved primarily due to the lodging of a large boulder on its northern side which deflected water and boulders and possibly prevented a direct impact, the ASI observed.

The GSI, which carried out a preliminary reconnaissance along with experts from Engineering Projects India Limited (EPIL) and ASI visiting the spot in August, recommended that debris stacked towards rear of the temple should not be disturbed in the near future.

It also suggested that large boulders at the rear of the temple should not be removed while cautioning against the use of any explosive for removal of debris or boulders near the temple.

The GSI also advised that movement or use of heavy machinery like earth movers should be avoided, especially close to the temple complex.

“We have to make sure that structure remains strong enough so that it withhold the heavy snowfall in winter. We are going to start work because temple will be closed after Diwali,” the minister said.

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