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Vol. XXXIV No. 3, May 16-31, 2024

Archives: Vol. XXXIV No. 3, May 16-31, 2024


Neglect has given way to Restoration, but what of Maintenance?

-- by Sriram V.

The Hindu recently published a news item that the Public Works Department of the TN Government has finalised a plan to restore six heritage structures in the State at a cost of Rs 67 crores. This has been submitted for formal approval which will most likely be given once the code of conduct imposed by the Election Commission is lifted in June. The projects cover the Kalyan Mahal Chattiram in Thiruvaiyyaru, the Muktambal Chattiram in Orathanadu, the Sivaji Raja building at Thanjavur, a part of Chepauk Palace, the dome of the College of Engineering at Guindy and the Kodumudi Travellers’ Bungalow at Erode.

The PWD plans to execute these restoration activities through its Building Centre and Conservation Division. This is one of the recent additions to the department and considerable investment has gone into training engineers in heritage conservation and restoration. Some commendable projects have been taken up as well. This is very heartening especially as for decades the State Government’s unstated policy when it came to heritage was one of neglect. Beyond the most cursory maintenance, if that, nothing was done at most heritage structures that were outside the purview of the ASI or the HR &CE. All of this is changing in the last few years.

With the number of restored heritage buildings likely to go up in the next decade or so, this is the correct time for the State Government to also ponder over what is to be done with them once the conservation exercise is completed. The present tendency in officialdom is to designate them all as museums than which there can be no greater short-sighted policy. There are all over the State several museums, declared open with much fanfare and then forgotten. These get hardly any footfalls owing to poor publicity, and unimaginative displays. Adding to this tally is certainly not an answer unless there is a revolution of sorts in the Department of Arts and Culture which runs most of the museums.

The Government needs to think out of the box. All of these buildings need to be in continuous use if they are to be maintained well. Of course the CEG or the Travellers’ Bungalow or for that matter the Chepauk buildings will continue to be in use but here again, the question is one of how they will be maintained. A casual visit to any of these structures will reveal that it is maintenance


Can the discussion move beyond ‘Pet Rights’ to ‘Responsible Pet Ownership?’

-- by Varsha V.

Earlier this month, a terrible incident took place: A five-year-old child was mauled by two Rottweilers at a public park in Thousand Lights. The dogs were not leashed, which led to the attack; intervention did not come in time and the child sustained severe injuries to her


Heritage Watch: A Pleasure Pavilion in a Pitiful State

To those who may not be aware, Kalyan Mahal is an architectural treasure. Located on the banks of the Cauvery at Thiruvaiyyaru, this was one of the pleasure pavilions of the Maratha rulers of Thanjavur. The series of mansions that dot the riverbank are mentioned in a composition by Tyagaraja as well.

Kalyan Mahal has enormous rooms that overlook


Thank you, Donors

We today, publish donations ­received with thanks for the period January-March 2024.
– The Editor

Rs. 100: Kb. Baskaran, ­Yugesh R, D.R. Aravamudhan.

Rs. 200: E.Umapathy, G. Srinivasan, Karuna J., T. Srinivas Chari, R. Parthasarathy, Soora Chandramouleeswaran.


Government Marine Aquarium on the Marina promenade, Madras, established in 1909

-- by Anantanarayanan Raman

In 1905–1906, Edgar Thurston (Superintendent, Madras Museum, 1885–1908) sowed the seeds for a marine aquarium in Madras, because of city’s coastal proximity. This effort eventuated as the Madras Marine Aquarium (MMA) in

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