State to take up chemical conservation in phased manner

Damaged murals in several temples are to get a fresh lease of life with the State government deciding to undertake chemical conservation in a phased manner.

In about 50 temples under the control of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department, murals are facing the danger of disintegration. Without altering their original character, they will be restored with the help of archaeologists and retired chemical experts from the Archaeology Department.

Announcing the scheme on chemical conservation of the murals in the Assembly on Tuesday, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said that initially, murals at the seven-tier ‘rajagopuram’ (front entrance) of the Thanumalayaswamy temple in Susheendaram of Kanyakumari district would be taken up.

Around 115 paintings on the seven tiers of the tower, vandalised by tourists and local people, have been long due for restoration. Among the themes dealt by the paintings are Ramayana, Periyapuranam and the ‘sthalapuranam’ (history) of the temple.

Eraniel palace

The Eraniel palace, now lying in a shambles, would be restored to its original glory. Spread over 2.43 acres in Kalkulam taluk of Kanyakumari district and located about 20 km from Nagercoil, the palace is regarded as a treasure house of the Venad dynasty.

The restoration-cum-conservation of the heritage monument would be carried out at a cost of Rs. 3.85 crore, the Chief Minister said.

Cheraman Perumal, the ruler of the Chera dynasty in the 8th Century A.D., was said to have built the palace. The Venad dynasty, which had succeeded the Cheras, retained the palace as its important symbol. The palace starting losing importance after the Venad dynasty shifted its capital to Padmanabhapuram on completion of the Padmanabhapuram palace around 1601. It gained prominence again when Veluthampi Dalawa (Thalavai) was the chieftain of the Travancore kingdom during 1802-1809. One of the streets in Eraniel is called ‘Padayetti Theru’ as it was from there that Veluthampi led an army to take on the British.

An official says the Eraniel palace continued to be well maintained till the 1850s. Artefacts in the palace belong to the period from the 16 century to mid-19 century. It will take a few years to finish the work on the heritage monument, the official adds.

Ms Jayalalithaa said the government’s annual grant for the Kanyakumari District Temple Devaswom Board would be increased from Rs. one crore to Rs. three crore.

Under the allocation of the 13 Finance Commission, 49 temples would be covered this year under the programme of conservation according to heritage principles.

A sum of Rs. 22.5 crore would be earmarked.

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