Khandagiri, Udaygiri caves eroding fast: ASI
“Examination of the site has revealed that the damage is not just limited to one place but noticeable throughout the caves.
BHUBANESWAR: The Khandagiri and Udaygiri caves in the capital city are eroding and the speed of deterioration has been rapid in the last 10 years, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has warned.
The ancient caves are flaking and the blunting of sculptures is more evident now, said ASI Odisha chief Dibishada Brajasundar Garnayak on Monday.
“Examination of the site has revealed that the damage is not just limited to one place but noticeable throughout the caves. It has been more in the last one decade owing to the increasing pollution, climate change and depletion of green cover. Besides, there are regular factors like vibration stress and CO2 emission from vehicles, high footfall of tourists and unregulated constructions around the monuments,” he said.
Former superintending archaeologist of ASI Jeevan Patnaik said the quality of sandstone used in Khandagiri and Udaygiri caves is also of very poor quality and fragile in nature, making it even more susceptible to weathering. “Hence, a certain rise in temperature or pollution will do more harm to Khandagiri-Udaygiri than any other sandstone monuments in the state,” he said.
Besides, the green cover that the caves enjoyed a decade back is now gone due to rampant constructions. “It protected the caves from any weather impact and in its absence, the heat and rain are further corroding the stones,” said eminent archaeologist and an expert in rock art Sadasiba Pradhan.
The National Monument Authority (NMA) had come up with the draft heritage bylaws for Khandagiri and Udaygiri caves to prohibit and regulate constructions within 100 to 300 metres of the site in January last year but they are yet to be finalised.
Pradhan, however, said that there hasn’t been much damage to the Udaygiri inscriptions because this is the only site in India where the inscriptions were smeared with red ochre during the reign of Kharavela to keep them safe from weathering. He suggested it is high time state government and ASI take immediate measures to address this cumulative damage to the ancient caves, including closing the road between the caves.
The state government had decided to close the road between the Khandagiri and Udaygiri caves in 2015 but that hasn’t been the case so far. Commissioner of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) Vijay Amruta Kulange said movement of heavy vehicles between the caves was closed down in a trial mode during the Hockey World Cup and the response was satisfactory as there are alternative routes that can be used. “We are in talks with the police and ASI to completely pedestrianise the road between the caves which would cut down on CO2 emissions to some extent,” the BMC commissioner said and added that if required, the civic body may introduce battery-operated vehicles for movement of tourists.
- High pollution levels, climate change and green cover depletion
- CO2 emission from vehicles, high footfall of tourists
- unregulated constructions around the monuments
- sandstone used in the caves is of very poor quality and fragile