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Updated: January 23, 2014 12:05 IST

Foreigners get to read poor English at Jain monument near Madurai

Special Correspondent
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SIGNS OF VANDALISM: A broken plaque at Kongar
Puliyangulam Jain cave site, protected by the
Archaeology Department, near Nagamalai in Madurai. Photo: S. James
The Hindu
SIGNS OF VANDALISM: A broken plaque at Kongar Puliyangulam Jain cave site, protected by the Archaeology Department, near Nagamalai in Madurai. Photo: S. James

Stone tablet containing historical information about Kongar Puliyangulam hill remains broken

“This monument has been declared as of historical imporitance under The Ancient and Archaelogical Sits and Remains Act 1966,” reads a metal board erected at the footsteps of Kongar Puliyangulam hill, a foreign tourist attraction housing 50 stone beds scooped for Jain monks during first century B.C. apart from three Tamil Brahmi inscriptions, near here.

Written in poor English, it goes on to state: “Whoever destroys, removes, injures, alters, defaces, imperils of misuses this monument shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three months are with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees our with both under Section 29 of Act 1966 – Department of Arcaheology , Government of Tamil Nadu.”

To add to the poor state of affairs, a stone tablet containing historical information about the Jain cavern, situated at about 20 kilometres west of Madurai on the highway leading to Theni, remains broken into pieces.

Regular affair

Locals say that it has become a regular affair for unknown miscreants to break the stone tablets and the Department of Archaeology officials to replace them with new ones.

N. Ganesan, Regional Assistant Director of Archaeology, concedes that a broken tablet was replaced only in February 2013 during the conduct of ‘Maamadurai Potruvom’ event.

“Not even a year has passed since then that the miscreants have struck again. Now, we have decided to place a new tablet and cover it with an iron grill to prevent such vandalism in future,” he adds.

Another official of the department cites manpower shortage as the reason for the widespread vandalism at ancient monuments and archaeological sites.

He points out that there are a total of 16 ancient monuments in Madurai district alone.

While most of them are manned by part-time watchmen working on contract basis, some of the sites do not have any.

“Permanent watchmen could not be posted in the ancient monuments as a batch of cases filed by temporary watchmen to regularise their services is still pending in the High Court. Even otherwise, one single watchman is unable to control the miscreants who come in groups. Most of the times, it leads to registration of criminal cases by the police,” he says.

Stressing the need for the State Government to fill up vacancies in the Archaeology Department, he claims that even the Thirumalai Nayak Palace in the city has been suffering for long without full strength of gardeners, watchmen, sweepers and so on.

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