ASI probes ‘risks’ of UNESCO-listed Khajuraho temples
Hearing of a complaint from a Maharashtra heritage expert, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is investigating allegations of some reported activities in the vicinity (buffer zone) of the ancient temples of Khajuraho – a World Heritage Site of UNESCO.
The silent development follows objections from Jalgaon-based Heritage Foundation Director Bhujang Bobade, ASI Managing Director, ASI Madhya Pradesh officials, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others.
Bobade said in his complaint that a group of Jain temples near Khajuraho temples had recently carried out some minor renovations and used chemical/synthetic paints.
“This poses a serious threat to the security of the 11-12 century old Khajuraho Group of Monuments, comprising two dozen temples. They were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986 and have been granted protection Surprisingly, not a single relevant authority has bothered to acknowledge my email complaints so far,” a miffed Bobade told IANS.
It was in December 2021-January 2022 that locals were surprised to witness the painting and minor repairs undertaken on the equally ancient group of Jain temples outside the Khajuraho group of monuments, but falling under the “buffer zone” of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. .
“As per UNESCO rules, there is a ‘buffer zone’ of at least 300 meters around all these World Heritage sites, where no activity that may harm the designated protected monuments is permitted. The Jain temples here apparently flouted the rules,” claimed Bobade.
Social media was abuzz with viral photos and videos of the facelift work which has now given ancient Jain temples a sparkling white facade – with two exceptions, Parshvanath and Adinath temples – a stark contrast to the dark grayish brown demeanor of the World Heritage Complex next door, and later confirmed during a site visit by IANS.
When contacted, the head of the ASI Jabalpur circle, Dr. Shivkant Bajpeyi, said that Jain temples are outside their jurisdiction and therefore do not interfere in their activities.
“However, after concerns raised in some quarters, we requested a ‘situation report’, which was received. After studying it, we will consider further measures,” Bajpeyi told IANS.
Temple administrators vehemently denied carrying out any repairs but admitted that Jain temples around the Khajuraho complex had been given a fresh coat of paint.
“It is part of the regular maintenance which is done periodically, as required… This is not the first time and we have painted these temples in the past,” Jain Temple Prabandhan Committee (JTPC) member Ramesh said. Jain at IANS.
When asked why Parshvanath and Adinath temples were spared from brush and paint, Jain said that these two temples were run by ASI. A cross-check by IANS with the local ASI office verified the claim.
ASI officials in Delhi said that the JTPC had demanded that the ASI hand over the two remaining temples (Parshvanath and Adinath) for proper maintenance, but this would not be possible for several reasons.
Now, with the apparent blessings of a prominent Digambar Jain Guru, Acharya Shri Vidyasagarji Maharaj, a new Jain temple is also being built, some 300-350 meters from the boundaries of the existing Jain temples, near the Khajuraho group of monuments. , raising concerns. back into administration.
The Acharya is revered by leading politicians including the Prime Minister, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and other bigwigs across the political spectrum.
Jain temples are described as “living monuments” with major religious leaders and commoners gathering or praying and celebrating festivals there.
Bobade warned that if UNESCO rules are flouted, it could result in the confiscation of the ‘world heritage site’ label, which would cause huge embarrassment to India, and urged prompt corrective action to protect the temples of Khajuraho, his identified “buffer”. zone’ plus the coveted title.
Built during the reign of the Chandela dynasty, the Khajuraho complex is the largest concentration of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, dating back over 11 centuries ago.
Originally the site comprised 85 Khajuraho temples spread over 20 km2, but now barely two dozen temples survive in an area of 6 km2.
The temples are known for their intricate and detailed carvings, symbolism, stunning eroticism, and expressions of ancient Indian art that continue to amaze the modern world.
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