“Madurai must do more to protect its heritage sites”

Staff Reporter

MADURAI: A seminar on ‘Preservation of ancient monuments’ was organised at the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple here on Tuesday by the Department of Tourism.

Addressing the gathering, G. Vasudevan, past president of Travel Club, said that the district was home to nearly 20 Jain monuments that belong to the periods between 3rd century B.C and 10th century A.D. Around 16 important monuments were located within the city.

Efforts were on to jointly undertake an initiative with the Department of Tourism to popularise these locations among foreign tourists.

The Pudhu Mandapam also had many significant structures which were getting damaged due to the presence of shops.

Further, vandalism was affecting the King Tirumalai Naick Palace, which was recently renovated at a cost of nearly Rs.6 crore.

Highlighting several other instances of invaluable heritage items being lost due to human activity, Dr. Vasudevan said that Madurai, which has 2,500 years of history, must do more to protect its heritage.

S. Chandravanan, Assistant Director, Department of Archaeology, said that kings constructed temples to meet three purposes: cater to the religion, to meet people’s needs and signify the kings’ victories.

The construction of each temple created 146 jobs for the people, he said, adding that even the names inscribed on the sculptures had historical significance.

The names of places had also a lot of meaning, he said.

Use of paint opposed

He also spoke out strongly against using paint over ancient pictures during temple renovations and adopting sand-blasting to clean sculptures. “Even the great King Tirumalai Naick did not have his name inscribed in the Mahal.

However, many visitors carve out their names using nail,” he said. K. Rajanayagam, Executive Officer of the temple, said that sculptures in southern parts were chiselled from hard stone.

Despite the extreme hard labour involved, the sculptures were so intricately carved that one could see the nerves and muscles on the figures. J. Balan, Head, Department of Tourism, Madurai Kamaraj University, said that India, with its 5,000 years of history, had a rich heritage.

It was also the home of one of the four ancient river-based civilizations.

It was not possible for the Government or private organisations alone to safeguard them.

Grass root level

Awareness had to be created at the grass root level among the public, he said.

K. Dharmaraj, District Tourist Officer, said that sculptures were being given more importance in attracting tourists. K. Pasumpon, Assistant Director of Tamil Development Department, also spoke.

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