The Central Public Works Department has commenced work to restore the century-old lighthouse on the Beach Road.
“The civil and engineering works have commenced. The Ministry of Finance is executing the project through the GST office. The Ministry has already sanctioned around ₹2 crore for the work. The project is estimated to cost ₹3.32 crore,” an official with the GST office told The Hindu .
The plan was to restore the lighthouse, which got deactivated in late 1970’s, by around October next year, the official added.
One of the highest structures here, the lighthouse will get new rafters, beams and plastering without making any alteration to its architectural beauty.
While the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage is the architectural advisor, the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, is the structural consultant.
Co-convener of INTACH Ashok Panda said before the advent of communication revolution, the navigation on the Coromandel coast was difficult due to severe cyclonic storms and constantly moving sand bars.
The shoreline was so low that sailors found it difficult to locate the shore. Initially, the French administration used to maintain a fire on the top of the red hills surrounding the region to assist sailors to locate the shoreline of Puducherry, he said.
Demand for lighthouse
But there was constant demand from captains of ships to have lighthouses, like the one in Europe. As per the demand, the lighthouse was constructed locally by engineer Louis Guerre in 1836, Mr. Panda said.
“It has evidently undergone several modifications over the years, but one could see still, traces of the French colonial features in the cornice and pilaster bands. The compound wall has been partially modified with masonry loop-holes, replacing the wooden fencing. The hexagonal piers still remain,” he said.