Renovation work taken up for a distance of 50 metres

A pilot project on the renovation of the ramparts of Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple has been taken up by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Board. The temple has seven prakarams (tiruchutru) and the ramparts on these streets account for a length of about 32,590 feet, approximately 9,934 metres.

Most of the ramparts built centuries ago are in a bad shape, particularly in the V, VI and VII prakarams. Incidents of boulders tumbling down during rainy season trigger panic among residents.

The pilot project has been taken up for a distance of 50 metres at the junction of the South Uthira Street and the West Uthira Street. A team of officials led by V.T. Narasimhan, consultant, archaeologist/conservationist, Department of HR and CE, Museum and Tourism, had inspected the area in July and identified the Uthira Street for the project.

The work on the project, which commenced last week, poses a challenge to labourers. The entire 50-metre length has been divided into two components – 25 metres on the left side of the West Uthira Street and 25 metres on the South Uthira street.

A unique feature in Srirangam is that a drainage channel runs close to every tiruchitru. The channel of the Chithrai Street runs parallel to the Uthira Street. Thick vegetation with roots deep in the boulders poses a risk to the workers.

The height of the rampart at the project site is 18 feet and the boulders have been built in an array of nine to 10 layers, one above the other. The rampart has a foundation up to a depth of three feet below the surface ground. Above the rampart, brick walls have been constructed as a later addition to a height of about three metres.

The pilot area has been divided into weak and strong zones. While the weak boulders are being cleared, the stronger ones will be retained in the same position. The strong boulders are being numbered indicating their row and position.

Labourers experienced in handling temple boulders at archaeological sites like Gangaikondacholapuram have been pressed into service, say official sources.

Unlike other areas, the ramparts are located close to the drainage channel. The demolition is being done boulder by boulder ensuring that they do not fall on the drainage channel on the Chithrai Street.

A combination mortar will be utilised while re-building the rampart wall at the project site, using lime and sand. Sources say the project will facilitate the HR and CE to evolve the exact procedure to be adopted for renovating the other weak structure on the ramparts.