Bodhgaya: Renovation work of the Mahabodhi Temple here has come to a standstill after huge stone railings and pillars, which were being carved under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) within the temple complex, along with heavy tools used for the purpose disappeared from the site.

The incident came to light in mid-January this year, when the Dalai Lama was holding religious meetings at Bodhgaya and an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was discovered near the temple, the topmost pilgrimage site for Buddhists around the globe as they aspire to visit it at least once in their lifetime. Chief minister Nitish Kumar had also visited the place after the IED was found.

The temple marks the place where Lord Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment, and is currently a high security zone after the July 2013 serial bomb blasts and for being on the target of terrorists.

Flummoxed by the vanishing act of the railings and pillars, each weighing several quintals, ASI officials started searching all over the temple complex, a Unesco world heritage site and a protected monument under the ASI, but to no avail.

Sources in the ASI told The Telegraph that several letters were written to Gaya district magistrate Abhishek Singh since January 25, bringing the entire episode to his knowledge and also pointing out that the crafted stones were meant for restoration of the inner railings of the Mahabodhi temple as the existing railings had weathered and deteriorated over time.

The Gaya DM is the ex-officio chairman of the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC). The ASI requested him to investigate the entire matter urgently as it has taken up the renovation work on the request of BTMC itself.

The renovation work had started in May 2017 in the presence of BTMC secretary N. Dorjee and head monk of the temple, Bhikkhu Chalinda.