THANJAVUR: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has taken up chemical cleaning of the ‘Gopurams’ of the historic Big temple here in view of the 'Kumbabishekam (consecration) to be performed to the Lord Shiva shrine either this year or next year.
Sources in the ASI said that chemical cleaning is done periodically every five years. But this time the ‘Kumbabishekam’ is also to be held and so the cleaning is being done in an extensive way to the delight of Thanjavurians.
As many as 35 workers from the chemical wing of the ASI worked overtime and cleaned the first entrance called ‘Maratta entrance’ of the temple which turned black due to exposure from rain and sun. The entrance after cleaning is its original form of red colour.
At present, the workers are cleaning the ‘Keralandhagan Gopuram’ next to the ‘Maratta entrance’. They will then clean the ‘Rajarajan Gopuram’ situated adjacent to ‘Keralandhagan Gopuram’ and then finally move over to the 216-ft tall all stone ‘Vimana’ on the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. Cleaning of ‘Vimanas’ on Amman temple, Murugan temple and Vinayaga temple inside the ‘Prakaaram’ will also be taken up, the source said.
“Moss and lichens growth is the major problem in the Gopurams of Big temple. First they are cleaned with coir pith brush, then ammonia liquid is used to clean them and finally chemical coating is given to prevent moss and lichens growth,” ASI officials explained the cleaning process.
The ‘Kumbabishekam’ is overdue for the temple. It was held last in 1998. The ‘Kumbabishekam’ will be performed every 12 years but it was not performed in 2010, when the Millennium celebrations of the temple were held here. But chemical cleaning was done then.
However, the ‘Kumbabishekam’ date has not yet been fixed as it has to be decided jointly by the ASI, the State HR and CE department and Palace Devasthanam. “Soon the date will be fixed. Prior to that ASI will complete its chemical cleaning,” said Babaji Rajah Bhonsle, senior prince and hereditary trustee of ‘Palace Devasthanam’.
The all-stone Big temple, massive and magnificent in its structure, fitting its name, was built by King Raja Raja Cholan, 1000 years back. It has been declared as a world heritage monument by UNESCO along with two other temples-Iravatheswaraswamy temple at Darasuram near Kumbakonam built by Raja Raja-II, and Big temple built by Rajendra Cholan, son of Raja Raja-I, at Gangaikondacholapuram in neighbouring Perambalur district....