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Pallava-built tank plagued by vandalism at Tiruvellarai

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Unpleasant: A portion of the walls of the Swastik tank at Tiruvellarai that has been defaced by vandalism.
Unpleasant: A portion of the walls of the Swastik tank at Tiruvellarai that has been defaced by vandalism.

M. Balaganessin

Structure defaced at several places

TIRUCHI: Vandalism in a tank of the Pallava period in the rare form of Swastik near the Pundarikaksha Perumal temple at Tiruvellarai in the district is posing a threat to the walls and the steps leading to the centre of the tank.

The structure has been defaced at several places by the engraving of names or initials on the walls with sharp-edged weapons. It has weakened the peripheral structure of the tank, with the building material around the damaged portion peeling off.

The tank, built in 800 A.D., has been designed in such a manner that it ensures privacy for those taking bath in the four enclosures. Each wing of the Swastik has 51 steps leading to the water and, on descending down the 20th step, one has to take a right to reach the tank below. The supporting beams made of stones criss-cross the structure.

Although the supporting beams, steps and parapet wall are made of stone, some mortar-like material has been utilised for the walls beside the steps. No damage has been done to the stone structures, but the structure made of lime-mortar used for binding has borne the brunt of the human vandalism at a few places.

The well was built by Kamban Araiyan during the reign of Pallava King Dantivarman, informs a hoarding put up in the vicinity of the tank by the State Archaeological Department, which maintains it. Down the centuries, this tank has assumed different names. It is recorded as ‘Maarpidugu Perunginaru’ after one of the titles of Dantivarman. By virtue of its Swastik shape, it is also called a four-cornered well. The well, says the hoarding, has been renovated during the 13th century A.D. by Yosala Veera Ramanathan and the renovation was carried out by Kudanthai Vanigan Uyyaneri Kaatinaan.

Rare inscriptions

An official of the State Archaeology Department in Thanjavur said the tank accounted for a large number of rare inscriptions, one of them being a poem describing the ethics of human life.

The official said he would immediately visit the tank and inspect the extent of damage. Civil engineers would conduct a survey, after which restoration would begin.

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