August 21, 2016
Thanjavur: The much-awaited work on renovating the moat around the Big Temple in Thanjavur, by filling it with water and introducing boating facility, has not yet taken off, with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) now raising questions about the stability of the fort wall.
As a result, while the ASI has been taking good care of the temple, a world heritage monument built by King Raja Raja Cholan, the moat around it looks neglected.
Initially the Municipal Corporation demanded the ASI to pay some amount as compensation to hand over the moat to the latter. But the corporation soon changed its mind and agreed to let the ASI take over for free. A year and half have passed since the moat was handed over to the ASI, but nothing much has happened since then.
ASI says that the fort wall will be further weakened if the moat is filled with water. “We are ready to renovate the moat and fill it with water. But, the water will damage the fort wall, which is now very weak. The strengthening of fort wall will be taken up after consulting with the experts. As an alternative, plans are afoot to erect a revetment wall in front of the original wall and renovate the moat,” an ASI official said.
According to S. Muthukumar, secretary of the Thanjavur chapter of the Indian National Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), the purpose of constructing the moat around the fort was to fill water in it. Muthukumar demanded that the ASI evict all the encroachments made on the moat, fill it with water, and introduce boating service.
“If the moat is renovated, it will add to the beauty of the temple. The boating facility will add to the tourist appeal. The backside of the fort is in a dilapidated condition. ASI should renovate the moat, as was done in Vellore fort and other areas, without any further delay,” Muthukumar said.