Structural heritage forms a major portion of tangible heritage. Though there are many references to various types of built heritage like palaces, temples, dwellings, chita sabhas (painted halls), pratimagrihas (sculptural displays) in ancient period, only temples have come down to us. It is a well known fact that they were not only the fulcrum around which the past societies existed but also the repository of historical records in the form of inscriptions. Preserving them has become all the more important because of this fact. Being a religious place, they still play an active role in the present society. As a result, they are well cared for in numerous cases. But, in the landscape of Tamil Nadu there are still many such temples replete with historical inscriptions and artistic sculptures and paintings remain in utter dilapidated conditions. Even in the temples with minimum maintenance, there are acts of vandalism in the name of renovations by adding new un-aesthetic concrete structures or pulling down of ancient structures for no reasons. These acts need to stop.
Perhaps worst cared for are the recent built heritage structures. Built of brick in highly quality tenacious lime mortar, they are not cared for because of lack of maintenance. Best examples are the structures of Maratha period in the Kaveri delta.
Further, in the so-called renovation works to keep the temples in proper repair, the philanthropists and their technicians often take decisions causing irreparable and irreversible damages to the ancient structures. This is a direct result of ignorance and to employ a quick fix solution by the technicians. This needs to be stopped.
Therefore, the Academy has identified this as a core area where the resources available at the disposal of it can be channelised.
To begin with, the Academy has identified the following projects.
Restoration of Kailasanatha temple, Uttaramerur
The Academy proposes to approach these two projects in a scientific and realistic manner. It will try to balance the well laid modern conservation ethics in maintaining the ancient structures with the age ole techniques of traditional conservation with due respects to the sentiments of the people who use these structures. Once executed, they will stand as models for others to follow.