Sunday, August 17, 2008

Our kind of rennovation

Historically we are the kind of people who bother least about conserving heritage sites and buildings. Lack of fund was stated as the reason by the state. But the recent economic boom has only worsened the situation. Worst destruction for the heritage buildings come in the name of renovation. Mindless renovation indeed.

Recently there was news about the destruction(cum renovation) of 500-year-old Varadaraja Perumal temple at Kancheepuram and demolition of 250-year-old Admiralty House in Chennai and 184-year-old Collectorate building in Salem. Such "assault on heritage" buildings gets noticed when there is massive large scale destruction. But minor renovations which goes unnoticed are equally destruction in course of time.

It is this kind of destruction that is happening in many of the government buildings in Cuddalore including District Collector's Office. This beautiful building is an classic example of a building in Indo-Saracenic style. The building under goes a continuous destruction for installing wiring, computers and air conditioners. Internal floor and walls of the building are covered with tiles (horrible colours). Glass doors and windows are taking the place of wooden doors and windows (for air conditioning the rooms/halls), which in no means fits architectural style of the building.

New portico and compound wall in Collector's Office, Cuddalore

A new portico was recently built at the entrance of this building. I could not imagine the need for such a structure at that place. This concrete structure at the front side of the building again doesn't fit the style of this old building. Another pity thing is that the building which houses Collector's Office and Government Treasury has ran out of space long back and lacks modern facilities, even which is available in neighbouring district like Villupuram. A new building is the only solution to get modern facilities and to prevent the building from further destruction.

In some cases, the sole reason for renovating the government buildings is to allocate fund to corrupt it to maximum extend. Tiles in the walls of government buildings has a reason - it is the tactics used by the corrupt PWD officials to show the world some work has taken place after corrupting away the allocated fund. Wood works in the old buildings are attractive targets of these corrupt officials. There are instances were century old buildings brought down completely to loot away the wood in it.

As this is the case with our government buildings, temples faces a different of threat. In many cases white wash is equated to renovation. Old inscription ? rare mural painting ? who cares, just wash - this is how renovation is viewed by educated and uneducated alike. In worst cases as with Varadaraja Perumal temple above, century old structures are demolished and replaced with concrete structures. Lakhs of "devotees" who plunge these temples don't pay any attention to depicted art forms. They are neither interested in knowing how our culture has evolved, nor they realise these art forms are windows to our past. As long as people are insensitive about protecting our monuments, it is easy go for government and its corrupt officials. If at all we have some heritage building left intact in our country, it is because of few good people in Archaeological Survey of India and organisations like INTACH.


Anonymous said...

Dear All,
District administration is quite sensitive in preserving heritage aspects of the District. We are working in close partnership with INTACH for the following projects:
1. Preserving Fort St David
2.Planning for a Museum for Colonial history along with INTACH, EID Parry, and Shantiniketan University, and Govt of Tamil Nadu
3. Development of Silver Beach and Pitchawaram as an Eco tourism destination.
4. Face lift to the Town Hall building
5. Identification and Documentation of the heritage buildings-both in Dravidian and Colonial architect.
All the above Projects are being planned with the active involement of INTACH Pondycherry
The Portigo in Collectorate Building I believe blends, at least in design if not material, with the architectural features of the Old Collectorate building.
Please feel free to give your suggestions and help us in making heritage atlus of Cuddalore District to preserve and promote its rich heritage and Culture.
Rajendra Ratnoo
District Collector Cuddalore

Unknown said...

I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

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Unknown said...

dear sir,
i am baskar archaeological officer cuddalore district. i uderstand about cuddalore old collector office historical value. please handover to state department of archaeology chidambaram. still now we are protectted danish fort at tranquebar. we are protect and mantaine as a museum building are manument building (historical building).

Harismurali said...

Can somebody enlighten me on whether all the above-mentioned projects remains completed? I am planning to visit these places. Have they been maintained? Whats the current condition?