Deccan Chronicle

Unesco Report: Meenakshi Amman temple in jeopardy

Deccan Chronicle| Gokul Vannan

Published on: August 8, 2017 | Updated on: August 9, 2017

Temple renovation carried out in ad hoc manner and was against principles of Agama and silpashastras'.

Meenakshi Amman temple

Meenakshi Amman temple

Madurai: The renovation work undertaken recently at the ancient Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai was against the principles of Agama and Silpashastras, says a Unesco report.

The Unesco fact-finding mission which  reviewed the nature and quality of physical interventions recently made to 10 out of 37 historic temples under litigation in Tamil Nadu following the Madras high court order, revealed, "Reconstruction of the south and east corridors of potramarai kulam in the Meenakshi Amman temple is against the principles of Agama sastras where it is clearly recommended that old stone material needs to be used and reused until it has lived its life. It is also against the principles of Silpashastras. No drawing was approved by Muthiah Sthapathy, the chief Sthapathy of the Hindu Religious and Charitable & Endorsement as per his verbal confirmation during consultation. Work carried out was also in contradiction with his report of 2006," aid the fact-finding report, a copy of which is available with DC.

The same was also true with regards to conservation principles followed as per the National Culture Policy of ASI and International ICOMOS Charters. The HR&CE and temple trust of Meenakshi Amman were not adhering to any systematic documentation, planning or phasing of works in the temple. "All works are being carried out in an ad hoc manner, leading to serious concerns for the stability and authenticity of the historic temple structures," said the report.

Considering the cultural significance and value of Meenakshi Amman temple, the Unesco recommended that it is essential that a comprehensive conservation management plan for the temple be prepared and implemented in a phased manner. "Works are to be strictly carried out under experts in the field only and not by contractors without experience of conservation. Strict adherence to recommendations by the ASI and adherence to conservation policies, charters and acts as required by government orders is essential," said the report.

Naganathaswamy temple almost gone

The over 1,000-year-old Naganathaswamy temple in Manambadi village near Kumbakonam in the state, which has almost disappeared, is a casualty of lack of conservation mechanism.

This Cholaera temple has been pulled down in the name of renovation, claim heritage activists who say the lack of "conservation manual" added to the problems. The stone temple built around 1016 CE, is one of the 88 protected monuments in the state under the control of the state department of archaeology. A sculpture in Naganathaswamy temple, where the Chola king along with his family is seen worshipping Lord Nataraja, signifies the consecration of the temple during his period.

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