State has prepared list of 50 temples in which murals are in dire need of restoration. The efforts of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department to give a new lease of life to ancient murals in various temples across the State is facing a peculiar problem.

A keen government and presence of big sponsors are not helping the cause of rare heritage in the State.

“Money is not an issue. Big donors are coming forward to support the cause. But we don't have enough skilled artisans who can do the task,” explains P.R. Shampath, the Commissioner of the HR&CE.

The State government has already prepared a list of 50 temples in which the murals are in dire need of restoration and preservation. It has also constituted a high-level committee headed by HR&CE Minister K.R. Periyakaruppan. On April 22, the committee discussed the ways and means of renovation of ancient temples without damaging murals.

“It's not the question of repainting the murals. The task is renovation and preservation. An ordinary painter cannot do the job,” he said, explaining that there were two well-known organisations working in the field of protecting and conserving cultural heritage.

But the Regional Conservation Laboratory (RCL) in Mysore and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) have their hands full. It is RCL that restored murals at Meenakshi Amman Temple.

Asked whether the government could take the help of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Mr. Shampath said his department had already approached them. The ASI also has limited manpower. Even the Government College of Fine Arts does not seem to have the expertise.

As a way out, the HR&CE Department is planning to come out with an announcement in newspapers inviting organisations and individuals who have hands-on experience in the preservation of murals.

“We will select suitable organisations and persons in consultation with the RCL and INTACH,” the Commissioner said. Some of the temples that are going to benefit from the project are Thiyagarajaswamy Temple, Tiruvarur, Arunachaleswarar Temple, Tiruvannamalai, Devarajaswami Temple in Kancheepuram, Veerattaneswarar Temple, Tiruvathigai, Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam, Athmanathaswamy Temple at Avudaiyarkoil, Ramaswamy Temple, Kumbakonam, Srivilliputhur Temple, Kuttralanathaswamy Temple, Kuttralam, Naarumpoonathaswamy Temple, Thirupudaimaruthur and Thanumalayanswamy Temple, Suchindram.