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Cracks appearing on Jethawanarama Cheithiya raise concerns

10 April 2024 12:01 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Anuradhapura Chethawanarama Cheithiya

 

The Chief Incumbent of the Jethawanarama Temple and the pilgrims have expressed concern about a possible danger if the cracks were allowed to further develop

 

Anuradhapura Jethawanarama Cheithiya, which is considered as the largest stupa in the world, and a world heritage building, has developed cracks in the upper relic chamber and spreads downwards penetrating the interior. The Chief Incumbent of the Jethawanarama Temple and the pilgrims have expressed concern about a possible danger if the cracks were allowed to further develop as in the case of Mirisawetiya Cheithiya. 
Meanwhile visitors to the Cheithiya are said to have taken Selfies standing on the scaffoldings, used by the workmen attending to the conservation activities. A layer of brick work has been carried out on the old structure after carefully removing the roots of vegetation.


The Central Cultural Fund had been established in 1982 based on Jethawanarama Cheithiya which had been declared as world heritage building. During the conservation project, the stupa, which had been left to the mercy of the jungle, was opened in 2009 for pilgrimage.. Former Archaeological Commissioner H.C.Bell’s investigations in 1894 revealed that its burred base goes to a depth of 26ft. According the Mahawansa conical, sacred relics of the Buddha’s waist belt have been enshrined in Jethawanarama Cheithiya. 

 

 

In 2016 the employees removing grass and rank vegetation growing in the Cheithiya had noticed the cracks and informed it to the officials. Officials of the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau opined that these cracks would pose a danger to the Cheithiya,” 
Ven. Narada Thera

 


Jethawanarama Cheithiya, built by King Mahasen (271 to 298 AD) during the Anuradhapura period,  is 400ft in height
Chief Incumbent of Anuradhapura Jethawanarama Temple, Deputy Principal of Nivanthaka Chethiya National School Ven. Narada Thera said that the conservation project of the historic Jethawanarama Stupa has been in slow pace.
The Thera told media representatives that the conservation project has been dragging on for more than seven years despite research activities and that his continual representations in this regard to the relevant authorities had fallen on deaf ears.


“The grass which was growing for years was steadily disintegrating the brick masonry on the surface leaving room for the water to percolate into the interior causing cracks in the dome. In 2016 the employees removing grass and rank vegetation growing in the Cheithiya had noticed the cracks and informed it to the officials. Officials of the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau opined that these cracks would pose a danger to the Cheithiya,” Ven. Narada Thera said.
The Thera added that any possible collapse of the masonry would expose the pilgrims visiting the Cheithiya to danger. 

 

People should not entertain fears of any possible collapse of the  Cheithiya or any part of it.  A team of engineers from Universities have taken step to prevent water seeping through the cracks  
- Prof. Gamini Ranasinghe Director General of the Central Cultural Fund 


However, Director General of the Central Cultural Fund Prof. Gamini Ranasinghe said that he exercised constant supervision of the conservation activities and looked into the condition of the Stupa while taking remedial steps. He said that it was inevitable to prevent cracks in stupas that have a history of more than 2500 years due to natural causes and that such cracks had appeared in Ruwanweliseya as well. He pointed out that cracks could appear on the surface masonry or penetrate interior into the structure. 
“However, people should not entertain fears of any possible collapse of the  Cheithiya or any part of it.  A team of engineers from Universities have taken step to prevent water seeping through the cracks,” said Prof. Ranasinghe.


Prof, Ranasinghe who refuted the allegation that visitors were taking selfies standing on the scaffoldings used by the workmen stressed that legal action would be taken against anyone who attempted to do so.  
Meanwhile Minister of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs ViduraWickremanayaka has dispatched a team to investigate the incident and to furnish a report. 


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