Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Thanjavur world heritage: How to fix broken pillars with araldite.

Photo of an inscription in Thanjavur Temple and cover page of the book by E. Hultzsch.

Initial survey on the loss and damage of Inscriptions in BIG Temple after ASI's so called conservation

August 2008.

"If E. Hultzsch, the Epigraphist comes back, it will break his heart", said my local guide to the temple.

I said if Raja Raja Chola comes back, "he will order those ASI officials, with death sentence for having damaged his inscriptions".

Some workers were busy trying to fix broken and shattered pillars with araldite!

I asked the head contractor what are you doing ? He said we received orders to put them back and keep them in museum!

Before E. Hultzsch the Epigraphist identified the Inscriptions found in the Big Temple, in the last part of last century, the temple was referred to Kaduvetti Chozhan Temple by Thanjavur local people, who were afraid of going inside as the Temple was covered with jungle. At that time the temple was used as a garrison for the British Army with nominal poojas performed in the main sanctum. Earlier the temple was not visited by people at all as jungle had covered the premises. When I visited the temple in 1971, it was full of shrubs and in subsequent visits it was in a much better shape.

A local reporter said "Local People are shell shocked about the Vandalism in the name of Conservation after our report was published , it has sent some ripples. There were denial statement issued by the ASI Vide the Indian express, Chennai edition dated 25, August, 2008. We purchased local Indian express in Thanjavur edition did not have the news."

I asked my guide whether all Inscriptions have been deciphered?

Some inscriptions were in niches and not mentioned by E. Hultzsch has been identified and deciphered later. Yes "The inscription that mentions that Raja Raja Chola had covered the Temple gopuram with gold gauze was discovered was discovered later".

Where is all the gold gauze now I asked?

He said "it was looted by Malik Kafur".

Why are there no signs of Malik kafur's invasions?

He pointed out to the two tiers over the Ardhamandapam that were demolished and remnants can be found. "This is not normally visible unless pointed out by guides".

Inside the sanctum the Archaka said "the invaders did not even spare the 'peruvudayar' the largest Siva lingam in any Hindu Temple. Raja Raja wanted every thing big in the temple. The invaders attempted to uproot it with crowbars but their efforts were in vain. One can see to this day the marks of crowbar on the back of deity".

It is ridiculous that when E. Hultzsch, (Epigraphist, to the Government of Madras from 1886 to 1903) published his monumental three volume book on the Brihadeeswara Temple inscriptions by ASI under the British he could have never have imagined, that the very same ASI, under Independent India, would be instrumental in destroying those Inscriptions 105 years down the line!.

His book South Indian Inscriptions and identified the inscriptions on the broken pillars as given below.

The damaged pillars and the inscriptions found on them are found published in the VOL 2 Parts 1 & 2. I am not going into details of the inscriptions in this report, as these are voluminous. These will be published seperately. Some pillars have inscriptions on one side. Some have on two sides; some have inscription on three sides and some on four sides.

1) INSCRIPTION NO 47 - Pillar on three sides ( Page 191-192)

2) INSCRIPTION NO 48 - Pillar B . Has inscriptions on two sides.(PAGE 195 -196)



5) Mahahamandapam- adhistanam- kumadappadi on the outer wall- maximum damage.

6) Maximum vandalism is found inside the hollow of Sree Vimanam where the original thousand year old one foot thick plaster inside the has been removed – scrapped away . This has not been replaced. This has lead to seepage during the last one year there by weakening of the gopuram. This is considered to be maximum vandalism. This may result in the damage to the gopuram, paintings inside and the damage of the unique Kalasam.

When we came out of the temple premises workers were trying to paste the broken pillars with araldite- obviously from instruction from higher ups in Chennai.

"ASI's method of conservation after destruction" quipped my driver.




Volume two has Parts 1 & 2,

First published by ASI in 1892 Madras

Reprinted by Navrang in 1983.

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