As a prelude to the Mahakumbhabhishekam likely to be performed in June this year, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has taken up chemical cleaning of the Big Temple here.
The Kumbhabhishekam is performed every twelve years and is due this year. The event assumes importance as the year June 2010 to June 2011 is the millenium year of the construction of the Big temple by King Raja Raja Cholan.
The millennium celebrations were held in September, 2010. Experts from the Chemical department of the ASI are in the process of cleaning the 212 ft vimana . “We are removing dirt, biological growth like moss and lichens on the all-stone vimana . The cleaning of the eighty tonne cupbolic doom around the kalasam at the top is underway. Following this, all the other structures in the temple will be cleaned well before the Kumbhabhishekam” , ASI sources said.
Sound and light show
Meanwhile, the ASI has given its approval for starting a sound and light programme by the Tamil Nadu Tourism department in the temple. “The ASI has given its approval for starting the programme. Now it [ASI] is in the process of deciding on the location where the programme has to be performed”, said A.C. Mohandoss, Commissioner of Tourism. The script has been prepared by the tourism department and it has also been approved by the ASI. Related equipment such as the cable necessary for the programme have already been sent to Thanjavur by the concerned contractor. The sound and light programme to be held on the lines of the one at the Thirumalai Nayak Mahal and other tourist places is approximately a Rs. Two crore project.
The ASI has also given its approval for installing surveillance cameras in the temple to monitor the crowd and detect crimes. This project worth Rs. One crore, will be borne by the ASI.
Meanwhile, the Thanjavur Municipal Councillors have appealed to the central government to release the sum of Rs. 25 crore it announced at the time of the millennium celebrations for the cost of improvements in the temple. The Union Minister of State for Culture V. Narayananswamy announced the amount when he visited the temple during the celebrations. He said the amount would be handed over to the ASI from the Union Culture Department.