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PWD to fund High Court restoration

D. Madhavan
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At the Madras High Court, each small dome, on an average, is around 20 metres tall, while the single large dome is around 40 metres tall —Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam
At the Madras High Court, each small dome, on an average, is around 20 metres tall, while the single large dome is around 40 metres tall —Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The prominent domes of the Madras High Court will get a fresh lick of paint, carefully administered, and some intricate restoration in the next few months.

The entire work will be funded by the PWD from its maintenance fund. It is estimated that renovation of each dome will cost around Rs. five lakh.

Work has commenced, with the scaffolding going up a couple of days ago. Each small dome (19 in all), officials said, will be given three coats of paint and the single large dome will be given six coats. For the stucco-ornamental work on the domes, the restorers will use lime-mortar instead of cement, following the original style.

Court sources said after a detailed study on renovation of the domes done by the Public Works Department (PWD) in collaboration with the archaeology department, a proposal was tabled before the heritage conservation committee of the High Court.

At the Madras High Court, each small dome, on an average, is around 20 metres tall, while the single large dome is around 40 metres tall.

As part of the preliminary work, the domes have been cleaned to get a clear view of the original colours. Some of the prominent colours include peacock blue, red and yellow.

Most of the small domes have only paintings, mainly depicting flowers, while the large dome has ornamental work. A team of artisans (stapathis) from Tanjore who are experts in building conservation have been roped in for the work.

Experts said the Indo-Saracenic architecture represents a synthesis of Islamic designs with local materials developed by British architects in the country during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The hybrid, combined diverse architectural elements of Hindu and Mughal, with cusped arches, domes, spires, tracery, minarets and stained glass, are some of the features of this architecture.

“Some of the other buildings that have this architecture include the metropolitan magistrate courts, the library and Senate House at the University of Madras and the Chepauk Palace,” said R. Sridharan, former deputy director, Tamil Nadu State Archaeology.

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