The five-floor Arsenal tower of the Thanjavur Palace complex here sports a new look. The exterior of the tower has been renovated as part of a massive exercise taken up by the Public Works Department (PWD).
PWD engineers said dampness due to algal formation over the tower created obstacles. A primary coat to prevent future growth has been applied. “We removed the vegetative growth on the exterior of the tower. Leakages caused due to these growths with roots piercing inside have been plugged,” said an engineer.
However, work inside the tower has to be taken up, including renovation of worn out windows, repair of the damaged staircase and providing them with anti-skid tiles. Tourists can go up to the fifth floor of the tower using a narrow staircase in which people have to go one by one. At present due to renovation work, tourists are allowed only up to the first floor where the skeleton of a whale is kept. “After completing the works inside, tourists will be allowed up to the fifth floor,” an engineer said.
The ninety-two-ft whale was washed ashore at Tharangampadi (Tranquebar) in Nagapattinam district on February 26, 1955. The skeleton is four hundred years old. The whale belongs to the whalebone whale species. The skeleton on the first floor of the tower is the cynosure of all eyes. “A powerful anti-lightning device will be fitted on the top of the Arsenal tower,” said another engineer.
The tower was used for keeping arms and ammunition in the olden days. Below the tower is an art gallery housing Chola period icons and stone sculptures.
The PWD has taken up renovation of the entire palace complex under a mega tourism project funded by the Central government. It has allotted Rs 14.75 crore for the renovation of the palace complex. Out of this, Rs 7.37 crore has been released for taking up the first phase of the work. The other works include renovation of Hajiram entrance gateway and allied works on the fort wall (75 per cent completed), Nayak tank and Rama temple (60 per cent completed), some works at Saraswathi Mahal Library (60 per cent over), renovation of Sangeetha Mahal, an ancient auditorium (60 per cent completed), Maratta Durbar hall (60 per cent over), the Arsenal tower (50 per cent completed), Nayak Durbar Hall and Chandramouleeswarar temple (50 per cent completed).
The Palace complex in Thanjavur is 400 years old. It was used by Nayak and Maratha Kings.