The renovation has unravelled the architectural acumen of the then rulers

Archaeologists, history lovers, and pilgrims visiting Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy temple are jubilant over the current renovation work taken up at the ramparts and the five granaries.

While the renovation of the ramparts has been taken up as a pilot project, the granaries built during the Vijayanagar dynasty, pose a challenge to the conservationists who had worked out a special strategy for execution of its renovation.

For the first time, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board has come forward to execute these work on its own, utilising the expertise of the conservationists who were involved in the renovation of ancient monuments in the order of the Srirangam temple.

The renovation has unravelled the architectural acumen of the rulers of the distant past. The pilot project for rampart renovation encompasses a length of 50 metres at the Uthira street.

All the weak boulders have been cleared and the work on renovation of the pilot project area would be completed within a few months, says V.T. Narasimhan, Consultant / Conservationist, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board, Museum and Tourism.

The pilot study involved clearing of a tall neem tree in the area.

“A study at this place where walls from two directions meet, ensure stability of the structure for a long period,” he said. The inner and the outer veneers are separated by a core space of about 1.5 metres. Against the usual earth or bricks for filling the core, ancient architects had used boulders at Srirangam indicating their rich regard for the temple.

The temple accounts for seven prakarams (tiruchutru) running to 32,590 feet or 9,934 metres. The boulders on the V, VI and VII prakarams have got weakened and instances of boulders rolling down have been reported at least during five occasions in the past four years, particularly during the monsoon. The conventional mortar would be used for binding the boulders during the course of renovation.

The renovation keeps an eye on possible unearthing of inscription on these prakarams. The pilot project aims at facilitating the HR and CE to evolve the exact expenditure and expertise needed for renovating the prakaram with weak structure.

The renovation through pilot project has gone down well with the residents of Srirangam. They heave a sigh of relief in the wake of recurring problem caused by the rolling of boulders.

The granaries, numbering five, were built during the Vijayanagar dynasty at the “Tiru Kottaram” of the temple.

While two granaries were built first, the other three were added at a later period. A decorative cliff, called pilaster, at a specific place had indicated that the granaries, though circular in shape, had an octagonal foundation. The pilaster has “padma” (lotus) structure and an abacus, normally found on an octagonal base.

“Taking a vital clue from the pilaster, we have established its octagonal base by carefully digging the earth in the area,” said Mr. Narasimhan.

A major challenge is the presence of four tall trees and deposit of silt all around the Tirukottaram. All the trees would be uprooted carefully and the silt cleared first, “without causing any vibration to the granaries”.

Ancient rulers had utilised the granaries for stocking various commodities — from paddy to spices and from millets to dry fruits.

The grandeur of the granaries would be restored in tact because it was built during the Vijayanagar dynasty, he said.

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