BHUBANESWAR: Premises of Sun Temple at Konark, a UNESCO world heritage site, turned into an artificial pool following incessant rain, much to the inconvenience of tourists on Friday. Archaeological survey of India (ASI) installed three pumps to drain out the accumulated water, taking over two hours to clear waterlogging at the 13th century temple.
The plight of tourists, wading through knee-deep water, exposed the poor drainage system at Sun Temple in Puri district. Standing on a sprawling 12-acre near the Bay of Bengal, the 70-ft ‘ruined’ historical Sun Temple (which was once 228-ft when it was intact) attracts over 4,000 tourists on a given day. The ASI collects Rs 30 from each domestic tourist and Rs 500 from foreigners to enter the ticketed monument site. A number of tourists, including foreigners who had purchased tickets, were forced to return from the entrance after seeing the submerged premises.
“Our money went into the drains as we could not move around the temple. It was very dicey to wade through knee-deep water as the floor was very slippery with broken rocks around,” said Tao Sakamotu, a tourist from Japan. There had been instances where some tourists were injured after slipping from uneven rocks at Sun Temple in the rainy season.
Locals blamed ASI, custodian of the temple, for doing precious little to drain out the rain water from the premises. “We staged dharna several times in the past to improve the storm water drainage system in Sun Temple. Tourists suffer a lot during monsoon season. Tourists, who left with a bad experience, will not visit the place again. Tourism will suffer if the state government and ASI do not address the water logging issue,” Badal Dash, a member of Konark Surakhya Samiti, a voluntary organisation, said.
ASI said they constructed a drain in 2012 to pump out the rain water. “We always remain alert during rainy days. Adequate pumps are in place to meet any exigency. It takes some time to drain out the water,” said an ASI officer. In view of inclement weather, the tourism department has suspended the ‘light and sound show’ at Sun Temple for the time being. “We will resume the show once the weather improves,” Konark tourist officer Saroj Kumar Pradhan said.