THE Archaeological Survey of India will undertake the ‘scientific conservation’ of Kanheri and Elephanta caves in Mumbai, which will involve chemical treatment on sculptures and paintings, an official said on Tuesday. The Science Branch of ASI here, which received a green signal for the conservation of the wood and silver casket containing relics of Saint Francis Xavier in Goa, will also undertake the conservation of two important caves in Mumbai. Kanheri and Elephanta caves will undergo scientific conservation, deputy superintending archaeological chemist of Maharashtra and Goa, Shrikant Mishra said.
Situated inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai, Kanheri Caves is a cluster of caves cut into a massive basalt rock that contain Buddhist sculptures, carvings, paintings and inscriptions, dating from the 1st century BCE to the 10th century CE. “We will clear the dust settled on sculptures and paintings and will give a chemical treatment to protect them from termites and other insects,” he said.
The fragile portions of these caves will also be examined and made strong so that the sculptures remain intact, Mishra said, adding that the work can take three to six months. A popular tourist spot, Elephanta Caves are home to rock-cut sculptures of both Hindu and Buddhist iconographies dating back to 2nd century BCE.