Indian devotees at the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. Photo credit: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/GettyImages
  • Improper renovation work undertaken by the state government is resulting in damage to the monuments.

The Madras High Court has stepped into the Tamil Nadu temple and heritage structures refurbishment row following allegations that improper renovation work undertaken by the state government is resulting in damage to the monuments.

The court has directed the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department to implement the suggestions of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) and file a status report on the progress made by 25 October.

Chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice R Mahadevan passed the interim order after taking cognisance of a batch of public interest litigations on renovation work of temples and heritage structures.


The high court directive comes after allegations surfaced that ‘ancient statuaries and Ramayana panels were destroyed due to sand blasting at the Thiru Nageswara Swamy temple, Kumbakonam, while at the Kasi Viswanathaswamy Temple in Kumbakonam, mosaic floors were constructed and houses built abutting the main Rajagopuram’.

Unesco has advised to review the current procedures of the department, and to reconcile the principle of Agama Shastra and international conservation standards, and thereby develop a clear guideline for conservation practitioners.

Last year, the court had directed the HR&CE department to go slow on renovation until a proper course of action was evolved to protect the ancient structures.


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