Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Imminent danger to Thanjavur Big Temple -- GP Srinivasan
IMMINENT DANGER TO THANJAVUR BIG TEMPLE
Thanjavur. August 17,2008.
ASI (Archelogical Survey of India), department under Government of India, has been engaged in renovation work in the Brihadeshwara Temple, popularly known as the Big temple for the past one year. This is the present state of parts of the temple after the so called renovation . (Please See Photos http://janajaati.blogspot.com/2008/08/imminent-danger-to-thanjavur-big-temple.html ). In the name of conservation many valuble inscriptions, pillars, manadapam, shrines and original art have been destroyed beyond repair and rendered beyond recovery leading to irreparable loss to the great Hindu heritage. The temple was apparently built like a jig saw puzzle. Each stone was weighed and balanced precisely vis-a-vis the whole complex structure; selected strictly according to agamas and shilapasastra and assembled like a mammoth jig saw puzzle. One has to know high level geometry and complex trignometry, material sciences and ancient temple architecture to understand the complex temple.
Over the years I have visited the temple at least 100 times and was taken around by experts in field. The entire gopuram was covered by Raja Raja Chola by Gold leaf coating known as Veli. When Malik kafur invaded South India, he not only destroyed two tiers on the ardha mandapam, but also vandalised many parts of the temple. The temple remained under disuse for centuries and rebuilt by later day kings .The British and French had used the huge ramparts of the temple as their garrison to make long history short.
Last year when the ASI dismantled some portions of the huge complex by untrained contractors, who were never trained in ancient methods of construction technology adopted by the King for constructing the Temple. Now they are having a tough time, as seen from the piles of wreckage which they dismantled for conservation, but now do not know how to it !
ASI lacks the skills technology and the minute care adopted in foreign countries for conservation. The temple complex resembles a war torn zone like Iraq. The temple has been reduced to piles of broken pillars and beams. This ancient temple, which withstood the test of time, many floods, rains and earthquakes, is in imminent danger. Please read further. It is shocking to note the marks of granite cutters . They have been used to remove blocks of stone called "kumudappadai" lotus motifs that adorn the outside walls of the huge temple. What Malik kafur could not do the, ASI is doing !
Rajarajeswaram more popularly known as the Big Temple (at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, India), was built a millennium ago by the Chola emperor Raja Raja I. The UNESCO has declared it as a World Heritage monument. It is completely under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India. The Thanjavur Palace Devastanam is in charge of the temple's religious administration only. It is the living monument testifying eloquently to the multi-foliate grandeur of the Chola Empire. It is a treasure-house of art, architecture, sculpture, painting, music, dance and the like, of Thamizhakam. It fosters the traditional Vedic and Agamic culture. It is hailed as the Devalaya Chakravarti. During the last one year systematic vandalism is taking place within the sacred premises of this great shrine in the name of conservation. Millennium- old inscriptions are getting shattered into smithereens. This is done under the blessed auspices of the Archaeological Survey of India. Portions of the Northern circumambulatory mandapam, the upapeetam and the athishtanam of the Maha Mantapam as also the inner part of the Sri Vimana are systematically destroyed in the name of restoration.
The circumambulatory mandapam was built by the Emperor's General known as Krishnan Raman alias Mummudi Chola Brahamaraya. These inscriptions bear testimony to the oral orders issued by the Great Emperor. A good many inscriptions were etched on the pillars, walls and basement. In these, only one pillar was slightly damaged during the invasion of the French and the British armies. However, the Maharatta Rulers, with great care, restored the pillar. The other pillars and also the roof-area of the Mandapam remained intact. Alas, the pillars treasuring these inscriptions, the cross-beams of the roof and also the ceiling stones have been broken to bits and thrown away. Replacement through fresh stones is at work. These new stones bear no comparison to the old ones at all. Moreover, the stones laid as foundation by Raja Raja have been uprooted, dismantled and carted away. It is said, lorry loads of stones have been sold secretly.
In addition to dismantling the stones in the adhistanam and upapeetam pertaining to Mahamandapam, granite-cutters have substantially damaged the Kumudappadai, thus in the process of weakening the building.
The inner plastering of the Sri Vimana had been totally removed as a consequence of which rain water seeps into the building and utterly spoils the ancient paintings. As the protecting nets in the Sri Vimana have been removed, the Sri Vimana has become as asylum of bats. Sooner or later the sacred Vimana will be filled with the excrement of bats and noxious bad odour will pervade God's tower. The conservation is being done by untrained contractors and one shudder to think of immense damage which is imminent. May lord Siva save himself! Or else Hindus must step in to save the temple immediately to save the house of Lord Siva! Hindus must approach the UNESCO immediately to save the Temple from further destruction and for immediate restoration.
19 August 2008
S. Kalyanaraman, Ph.D.,
Sarasvati Research Centre, Chennai 600015
Hon'ble Smt. Ambika Soni,
Union Minister for Culture,
Govt. of India, New Delhi TEL. -26499332, 26494199, 26494652Fax 26494652, 9868181830(M)22, Akbar Road, New Delhi
cc: Hon'ble Smt. Sonia Gandhi, UPA Chairperson, New Delhi firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: +91 (0)1123017047
cc: Hon'ble Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, New Delhi email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Tel.Telephone: 91-11-23012312.
Fax: 91-11-23019545 / 91-11-23016857 Tel. 23018939, 23011156, 23018907, 23019334, 23015470
cc: Hon'ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Thiru Kalaignar Mu. Karunanidhi, Chennai. email@example.com
Dear Smt. Ambika Soni ji,
I am bringing to your notice a serious report which should be of immediate concern to the Govt. of India and requesting you to take immediate remedial action.
We will be constrained to bring the state of affairs in Archaeological Survey of India to the notice of UNESCO since what is happening to the World Heritage Monument of Thanjavur Brihadis'vara Temple is a matter of concern for the civil societies and all citizens of the world.
In the wake of the callous approach of UPA Government to attempted destruction of Rama Setu and humiliation of the Hindu pilgrims to Amarnath shrine, this act of state-sponsored vandalism in a World Heritage Monument is serious issue which should receive your immediate intervention.
Thanking you for your consideration and hoping for IMMEDIATE corrective action,
Dr. S. Kalyanaraman
Sarasvati Research Centre,
Chennai 600015 firstname.lastname@example.org
(including 4 photographs of ongoing destruction of the world heritage monument in Thanjavur)