Buddhist stupa loses its ancient design to renovation : The Tribune

The renovation of the 1st century Buddhist Stupa in this remote village of the district has robbed the structure of its ancient design, irking Buddhist activists of the region, who despite raising the mailer at the highest level have failed to get the folly rectified.
The Buddhist Stupa here is the only ancient structure of north India which was completed during the Kushana Period and attracts a large number of followers of Lord Buddha from within the country and outside It is learnt that the construction of this site had started daring the reign of Ashoka, and it was one of the 10 stupas constructed around Shrunghna (modern Sugh), an important centre of Buddhism.

The original structure was constructed with concentric layers of baked bricks, each laid over the other with some space in between. The construction of the stupa corresponds to the stupa at Shahpur and Dharmarajilca at Taxila. It measures about 1.5 m at the top.
After being taken over by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the site faced neglect till 2005, when finally renovation work started. As the per guidelines of the ASI the renovation was to be completed with the technique and material of that  era in which the structure was constructed, the ASI used modem bricks, sand and cement to restore it. The ancient building was even given a fresh coat of paint to cover up the bricks and cement, This did not go down well with the local activists, who wrote letters to the director-general of the ASI during renovation. But their efforts proved futile.

Sidhartha Gauri , president of the Buddhist Forum, which has been pursuing the matter with the ASI, said three kinds of bricks were used in the renovation, but they did not match with the size and shape of the original ancient bricks of the stupa. The stupa has now been completely covered with new bricks, leaving little or no trace of the original bricks.

The stupa had four cardinal points and niches to place idols but after the renovation, these appear as stairs. Gauri said there were two approximately 52 feet deep pits around the parikrama which were used to erect wooden pillars to create a boundary around the stupa. but, these have also been covered during the renovation. Meanwhile, an RTI application by the Buddhist Forum with the Chandigarh unit of the ASI, has revealed that the ASI had spent around Rs 80 lakh on its renovation. The renovation work was carried out in bits and pieces and remained suspended for years before it was finally completed.

Gauri lamented that there was no proper security system on the site. He said the use of modem day bricks showed the lack of concern. The structure has started showing signs of deterioration due to exposure to weather.

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