Editor’s Desk: Padma Vibhushan sculptor Raghunath Mohapatra’s ambitious proposal to construct a second Konark Temple on a 17-acre land at the cost of Rs 2,000 crore, has surprised many in Odisha, which is struggling to find its rhythm in economic recovery. Can the people of Odisha afford such a project and at whose cost? Who will get the actual benefits – Odisha Tourism or Raghunath Mohapatra himself?
We acknowledge the contribution and achievements of Shri Raghunath Mohapatra in no ambiguous terms. He deserves the kudos for bringing laurel to the state through his great artistic achievements. Odisha felt proud when he was awarded the prestigious ‘Padma Vibhushan’ on the eve of 64th Republic Day. But, his proposal, if becomes a reality, can hardly serve the interest of people in the state. Instead, the money should be spent on the development work, healthcare and poverty eradication programmes.
Raghunath Mohapatra’s proposal was discussed at a meeting chaired by Tourism & Culture, Planning & Coordination Minister Maheswar Mohanty on February 11 at the Secretariat. Mohanty sought opinion of Chief Secretary and other bureaucrats regarding the proposal. Mohapatra had also attended the review meeting on an invitation of Mohanty. Central RDC Aurobind Padhi had talked in favour of the proposal and agreed to build another Konark temple, which was built after 100 years of Puri Jagannath temple. In wake of improving tourism in Odisha, he suggested to build a mini Konark temple at another place.
At the meeting, the map of the proposed Konark temple prepared by ASI book was presented. The minister said that proposal will be discussed with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik later along with the complete map for the temple. According to Mohapatra, a doyen of stone sculpture, the existing Konark temple will be ruined after some years and the condition of many idols and small temples at the premises of the main temple are on a decline.
It can be noted that the government has to bear the burden of around Rs 2,000 crore to complete the temple. According to Mr. Mohapatra, about 600-700 artists will be required for the construction of the temple. It can be completed in 8-10 years. He had suggested to use small stones in the temple instead of big stones used in the existing Konark. The original Sun Temple, which was built by King Narasingha Dev in 1238 AD, has been decaying very fast.
We must acknowledge the fact that our archaeological monuments are irreplaceable. We cannot create the same magic by replicating another monument to replace the old one. Be it Taj Mahal, Char Minar or Konark, they have their historical significance. A new structure, how beautiful it may be, cannot draw the same attention what they have been doing for centuries.
Ironically, the state government, which may face a tough time ahead while distributing Rice @ Re. 1 to BPL families and spend crores of money on various populist measures announced by Naveen Patnaik, may show its interest on Mohapatra’s proposal to build another Sun Temple, which will be the carbon copy of the first one. The goal is to drag the attention of overseas tourists. But, who on earth can claim that the new Sun Temple at Konark will be better and more beautiful than the existing one? It’s next to impossible. It would be highly appreciated if the government spends that money on the development of tourist spots across the state.