BHUBANESWAR: The Sun Temple at Konark will be promoted as an ‘Adarsh Smarak’, a model heritage monument. It is one of 25 monuments selected by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture for a scheme that aims to equip those with facilities like Wi-Fi to interpretation centres.
The Ministry had last year asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to select 25 monuments from around 3,680 sites and monuments of national importance that are currently under its protection, as part of the programme to create model heritage monuments. The Sun Temple is the only one from Odisha chosen for the purpose.
As a part of the project, each monument will have wheelchair access, signages, drinking water facility and CCTVs. The Ministry, in a release, stated that the Sun Temple will be provided necessary tourist facilities including Wi-Fi, an interpretation centre, security provision and signboards of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan mentioning the slogan ‘Swachh Smarak: Swachh Bharat’. The campus will be made free of encroachments, if any, and short films would be created for informing tourists about the importance and making of the monument.
ASI’s Superintending Archaeologist, Bhubaneswar circle, Bhuban Bikram said all tourist-friendly facilities like interpretation centre, lavatories and sitting arrangements are already there in Konark as it is a World Heritage site. “Under Adarsh Smarak project, we can expect upgradation of existing facilities to international standards, besides putting up signages, creating short films and an enclosure to project them and making a portion of the temple campus Wi-Fi enabled,” he added.
Apparently, providing free Wi-Fi access at the monument by December last year was earlier announced by the Central Government as a part of the Digital India programme. “The idea is that local people and foreign tourists should stay connected. As making the entire temple campus Wi-Fi enabled is an impossible job, we are thinking of making one or two areas within the campus for Wi-Fi access,” Bikram said.
The Sun Temple is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Odisha and over the years, it has emerged as a top revenue earner amongst Centrally protected ticketed monuments in the country outside Delhi and Agra circles. According to sources, in winter, which is a peak season, 7,000 to 8,000 visitors come to Konark daily and it drops down 1500 to 2000 in other seasons.