The lacunae in the temple conservation process has severely damaged some of the most historic shrines in Tamil Nadu, including two near Chennai, a Unesco fact-finding mission has told the Madras high court in an interim report.
“The study in May and June of 10 temples in the state, including Madurai’s Meenakshi Amman temple, for a wider understanding of the conservation process by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR&CE) department, shows lacunae in the process,” the report said
The study was conducted at Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai, Nellaiyappar temple and Vanamamalai Perumal temple in Tirunelveli, Marudhakali Amman temple in Namakkal, Nageswara Swamy temple in Kumbakonam, Naganadha Swamy temple in Manambadi, Aadhi Narayana Perumal temple in Pazhaverkadu near Chennai, Arunachaleswarar temple in Tiruvannamalai, Ranganathaswami temple in Srirangam, Trichy and Kamatchi Amman temple in Kancheepuram.
It said Unesco could hold a demostration in one temple that could then be used for establishing general guidelines for each stage of conservation from documentation to completion of works and post completion.
The HR&CE department may also seek Unesco support on macro level management of the 36,590 temples registered with it, it said.
The court had sought a factual report from the Unesco mission on the conservation process followed in temples under the HR&CE department.
The report (available with TOI) said the HR&CE department neither had the capacity nor qualified experts to carry out conservation work and no proper system was being followed for documenting, assessing, reporting, tendering, etc., of heritage structures.