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Crowning State’s architectural glory

G. Anand
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School building, fort, temple to be declared protected monuments

Rare work of art:The Thrikuratti Siva temple in Alappuzha is among the monuments to be declared protected and restored to their original glory.
Rare work of art:The Thrikuratti Siva temple in Alappuzha is among the monuments to be declared protected and restored to their original glory.

The 200-year-old LEO XIII Higher Secondary school building in Alappuzha, the remains of the Balussery Fort housing the Vettakkorumakan temple in Kozhikode, and the Thrikuratti Siva temple in Alappuzha will be declared protected monuments and restored to their original architectural glory, the State Archaeology Department has said.

J. Reji Kumar, Director (Archaeology), says the family house of Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai, a fiery journalist of the last century, in Neyyattinkara is also among the several monuments the department has earmarked for urgent protection and conservation.

Jesuit priests had constructed the architecturally unique building of the Leo XIII School sometime in the middle of 19th century. Initially, the school was known as St. Antony’s School but was subsequently renamed in honour of the Pope.

Murals

Conservators of the department recently found century-old murals under the blistered and peeling walls of the Vettakkorumakan temple, the family deity of the erstwhile nobility of Malabar, including the former ruling houses of Neeleswaram, Kottakkal, Nilambur Kovilakam, Chirakkal, and Randu Illam Nambiars. Officials say the Thrikkurati temple, with its rare wood and lattice work, is considered among the ‘108 great Siva temples’ in the country and finds mention in Unnuneeli Sandesam , a 13th century work.

The ruling family of the erstwhile nobility of Kayamkulam had used the temple premises to dispense justice and collect taxes. Statements given by petitioners holding a ‘holy stone’ on the premises of the temple were considered authentic.

The department’s Structural Conservation Wing and Laboratory will undertake the chemical and structural restoration of the monuments.

Conservationists, who inspected some of the sites, say that water seepage has caused large portions of the walls of the ancient structures to crack.

Salt efflorescence, a kind of crystallization, has marred the monuments. Unchecked growth of plants and algae are threatening the now fragile buildings.

The laborious process of the structural and chemical conservation of the buildings will involve the reverse of the decay that has set in over the centuries.

All modern-day alterations made to the heritage structures, including recently added features such as awnings, covered parking areas, and toilets, which mar their architectural beauty, will be removed.

Original colour scheme

The conservation experts will try to extricate the original paint of the building from overlying layers and use modern-day technologies such as colour-spectrum analysis to replicate it in sufficient quantities to restore the buildings to their original colour scheme. The wooden structures will be chemically treated to make them resistant to pests and the elements. The department will hire artisans to reconstruct lost parts of embellished and ornate sections. It will rope in all stakeholders, including local bodies and residents, to help the department manage and sustain the structures.

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