The ‘gopuram’ at the entrance of the Thirumarainathar Temple at Tiruvadhavur sports a coat of fresh paint and the bright colours catch the attention of the devotees who walk into the temple. The Tiruvadhavur Temple is one among the many temples in the city that are under renovation.

The Thiruvapudaiyar Temple at Sellur, which was recently restored, had been painted over with enamel paint which had hidden the beauty of the stone sculptures which lay underneath. Layers of paint and mortar had to be removed from the stone structure and the temple now has been restored to its original, ancient and regal structure which it was conceived as.

Conservators say that many temples have fallen prey to mindless renovations over the years where stone walls and ancient structures have just been painted over with little regard to the architectural style.

“It is important that we do not tamper with the original style or architecture of the structures that have needed strengthening. For the restoration work going on at the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple, an expert committee of engineers, scholars, sculptors and archaeologists decided on how the damaged pillars could be replaced,” said P. Jayaraman, Joint Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department.

Renovation and restoration is on in full swing at the Thirumarainathar temple which last had a ‘Kumbabhishekam’ in 1998. V.R. Gunasekaran, a heritage restorer and conservator at the temple said that the stone walls, facades and pillars of the temple were treated with a special ‘water pressure’ wash which cleaned it.

“The cracks on the stone walls and pillars underwent ‘pointing’ works which involved filling them with sturdy material to avoid erosion and seepage of water to strengthen the structure. A layer of polyurethane which will give the stone structures a fine finish is then applied instead of harsher chemicals which might damage the stone,” he said.

Mr. Gunasekaran also worked as a conservator with the Thiruvapudaiyar temple and is a part of the ongoing work at the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple, where work is being carried out to replace the stone pillars around the Golden Lotus tank.

Despite the renovation work at the Thirumarainathar temple, the shrines of the main deities had been kept open for devotees and visitors through the last year.

“Though the temple is away from the city, it has always attracted its fair share of devotees and tourists,” said S. Savithri, a resident from Melur who is a regular visitor to the temple. “The temple used to be a picture of neglect and most of us (devotees) are happy about the facelift,” she said.

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