August 18, 2009

History Destroyed

Heritage means nothing to most of us. But, ASI's prime job should be to atleast protect the heritage sites that are abundant in India (leave alone restoration, promotion, excavation, research etc). Last month, we saw a report that was tabled in Rajya Sabha, saying 35 monuments, under the 'protection' of central government were not traceable.

In Madurai, Tamilnadu, granite quarrying and vandalism are threatening the ancient Tamil-Brahmi sites. FrontLine reports
SANGAM age Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions on the brows of caves, hundreds of beds known as Jaina beds sculpted on their floors, beautiful bas-reliefs of Jaina tirthankaras and exquisite paintings by prehistoric artists are facing destruction in the hills in the vicinity of Madurai in Tamil Nadu owing to large-scale granite quarrying and vandalism. Real estate sharks have destroyed Iron Age burial sites near these hills. The sites, datable from 2nd century B.C to 3rd century A.D., constitute an invaluable cultural treasure. The inscriptions offer evidence to Tamil’s classical language status and throw light on the advent and spread of Jainism in the Tamil Sangam age and the later period in the region. The sites hold a wealth of information on how kings, chieftains, traders, village chiefs and even ordinary people patronised Jainism and made donations for the sculpting of Jaina beds. They also provide interesting information on the trade guilds that existed during the period because many of these hills lie on the trade routes of that period.

Tiruvadavur is now the most disturbed Tamil-Brahmi site in the State, with a huge quarry situated right at the foot of the hill. Quarrying has progressed so deep that the site looks like an open-cast mine. All round the quarry, for several kilometres, granite blocks as big as a truck or a car, are stacked on either side of the village roads. There is a surreal scene too: a nearby hill has been sliced in half, as if it were a cake. An official of the State Archaeology Department admitted that quarrying was under way within the prohibited/regulated area, that is, within 300 m of the protected limits of the monument.


Krishnan said...

Pretty distressing. We Indians always have a very poor sense of history.

sugan said...

yes, is a fact that we take no pride in our history. We systematically deface monuments without any remorse. Sad state of affairs.