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Heat cracks temple crown

- Archaeological Survey of India team visits Lingaraj temple

Bhubaneswar, June 16: An expert team of the Archaeological Survey of India today inspected Lingaraj temple and found major cracks on its crown (dadhinauti).

A core member of the committee, Gopal Mitra, said: “The crack has been developed because of intense heat generated by the earthen lamp placed near it. The place of putting the earthen lamp should be changed.”

According to the rituals, the earthen lamp is placed on the summit of the temple once in every15 days. The team said the cracks around the crown (kalash) have developed over the years because of the heat generated by the fire from huge earthen lamp that is placed around it. Apart from the heat coming from the lamp, seasonal heat from solar radiation is also creating expansion of the top structure, say experts.

ASI officials said the 46-metre-high temple has a two-meter-long crown, which has developed cracks. The clamps used for hoisting the flag on the temple top, has also contributed to the development of the crack as the clamp swings with the wind putting pressure on the crown that is made of eight metals (astadhatu).

“A detailed discussion will be held on how to undertake repair in the famous Lingaraj Temple,” said temple administrator Abanikant Patnaik.

In order to shift the earthen lamp to some other spots, the temple administration has also decided to hold talks with the servitors. “This is a sensitive issue. We will take everybody into confidence while taking a decision. We don’t want to thrust any decision,” said Patnaik. Superintending archaeologist of the Bhubaneswar circle of the ASI Bhuvan Bikram said: “We will go for a complete inspection of the temple and prepare a detailed plan to preserve it”

The crack was spotted first by members of the Samartha Nijog, who climb on to the temple top to tie flags to the crown.

“We saw it and informed the temple administration,” said Babuli Samartha, a member of the Samartha Nijog.

Many honeycombs have also been spotted inside the temple. “ASI has been saying that they had treated the temple with chemicals in 2004 to keep the bees away,” said another official of the temple administration. The 11th Century monument attracts a large number of devotees from the state and outside. Everyday, about 4,000 devotees come to the temple with number rising to lakhs during special festivals.