The Rani Mangammal Mahal, a heritage building housing the Government Museum in Tiruchi, is getting a facelift.
It will soon be restored to its former glory as the restoration works are being undertaken by experts at the complex.
The restoration work is being undertaken at a cost of ₹3.85 crore.
The Chokkanatha Nayak Palace, known as Rani Mangammal Mahal or Kolu Mandapam, is a mid-seventeenth century palace, built by the Madurai Nayak rulers. The palace was built by Chokkanatha Nayak and served as a Durbar Hall of Madurai Nayaks when Tiruchi was their capital.
The museum is maintained by the Public Works Department. However, the building houses the museum over the last 15 years. Until then, government offices functioned out of the building, said C. Sivakumar, Curator in-charge.
“The murals were all buried under at least 20 layers of limestone and paint. The brick structures were also covered in cement,” he said.
During some repair works undertaken in what used to be the Durbar Hall, some murals were discovered. “We then roped in a scholar from Thanjavur who helped us study the works and understand its importance. With his help, and the help of experts trained in these restoration works, brought in from Jharkhand, we have begun the work. The restoration work will take at least 18 months to complete,” Mr. Sivakumar said.
Documents, photos and texts are being studied to aide the restoration work. Natural dyes will be used to paint the murals.
The roof of the building will also be repaired. “The domes and minarets were covered in cement and flattened. We are chipping out the cement from all nooks and crannies to showcase the building as it was," he said.
The aim is to restore the building to its former glory and through it, showcase the vibrant history and culture of Tiruchi.
Since the works are underway, parts of the museum have been cordoned off and the exhibits packed and kept safely away. Some of the exhibits have been moved to the front.
After the restoration work is completed, the exhibits, especially those focussing on Tiruchi and its history, will be showcased, Mr. Sivakumar said.