Thiruvananthapuram

Moodathu Madhom: A heritage structure lies in ruins

Neglected: A view of the Moodathu Madhom in Thiruvananthapuram.

Neglected: A view of the Moodathu Madhom in Thiruvananthapuram.  

Now under litigation, Moodathu Madhom had eminent personalities such as painter Raja Ravi Varma among its residents

Last-ditch efforts are on to conserve the Moodathu Madhom, a heritage structure in the Fort area that has fallen into ruins.

Time and neglect have left their imprint on the structure, located, ironically, opposite Sundaravilasom Palace which houses the Directorate of Archaeology.

Built in traditional Kerala style, the Moodathu Madhom or Moovidathu Madhom is said to have had eminent personalities such as painter Raja Ravi Varma among its residents. Today, though a protected structure, most of it has disappeared and the 36 cents of land it stands on is overrun by wilderness. The ignominy is compounded by the mounds of waste dumped on the plot. Rodents and reptiles have a free run of the place.

A long-running feud between the Kilimanoor, Changanassery, and Haripad royal families over the ownership of the Moodathu Madhom contributed to its neglect. The Archaeology Department, through a gazette notification in 2003, had declared it a protected monument. In 2005, it deposited ₹30 lakh for takeover of the plot. However, with the litigation over ownership dragging on from lower courts up to the Supreme Court, the structure started crumbling in the absence of maintenance and protection.

To conserve whatever remained of the structure and the derelict plot where it stood, the Archaeology Department requested the government to acquire the property and authorised Planet Kerala, an NGO, to conduct a social impact assessment.

Final report

In its final report to the District Collector, Planet Kerala noted that the city Corporation had declared the Moodathu Madhom area which was in close vicinity to Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple a protected area following a plea by the temple security wing. The report recommended payment of fair compensation to the litigants after withdrawal of the court cases to clear the way for acquisition of the plot.

However, if a solution could not be found, the government should take steps for land acquisition so that the process did not drag on and the Moodatha Madhom could be conserved without delay, the report said.

Planet Kerala executive director Antony Kunnath said the litigants were willing to accept the compensation and step aside as they were not in any position to conserve the structure.

Archaeology Director K.R. Sona said conservation of whatever remained of Moodathamadhom was imperative so that the coming generations were aware of the heritage structure and its rich past.

Besides the ₹30 lakh handed over by the department for payment of compensation, the affected parties had claimed the market value of the land. Officials said a committee had been set up to discuss the social impact assessment report.

Wire mesh

The Corporation has drawn up plans to conserve the compound wall and put up a wire mesh on it to prevent further dumping of waste. Further steps on conservation and renovation will be taken up after due consultations, officials said.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 7:40:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/a-heritage-structure-lies-in-ruins/article30383777.ece

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