TN launches campaign to save heritage

TN launches campaign to save heritage


These paintings and inscriptions face extinction as a fallout of uncaring renovation works taken up by local Temple Committees insensitive to archaeological treasures or out of sheer neglect.

Waking up to the grim prospect that a key primary source of ancient Tamil Nadu history might just vanish in three to four years as noted archaeologist R Nagaswami fears, the DMK regime has now turned more pro-active in protecting and preserving them.

T S Sridhar, Special Commissioner, State Department of Archaeology, had launched an “epigraphy campaign” in a modest way some years back, but “we face a serious shortage of personnel to take up this massive job of epigraphy and related tasks,” said K S Ramasamy, officer-in-charge of the Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT) here, that comes under the Union HRD ministry.
The conferment of classical language status to Tamil by the Centre has spawned this Institute and with “funds being no constraint now”, the CICT has for the first time teamed up with the Archaeology Department to conduct short-term courses and workshops to train students and teachers in epigraphy, history and archaeology, he stressed.

The training of the first batch of 40 people, including a large number of women college students in epigraphy and archaeology, has just begun in the city. The training includes field visits to major temples in the state that are a treasure trove of Tamil inscriptions for hands-on training.

To be able to copy, read and decipher stone inscriptions “is an art in itself,” said Sridhar, adding, Minister for Tamil Culture and School Education Thangam Thennarasu has reactivated the training camps in a big boost to epigraphy.
Of the entire ‘corpus of inscriptions found in India’, more than 50 per cent, numbering over 25,000 inscriptions “are in the State of Tamil Nadu in the Tamil language.”

Skilled hands
He said though a large number of Tamil inscriptions have been copied and deciphered in the last few years after a district-wise initiative, such training camps will now expedite the process by churning out more skilled hands, who will be able to read a wide range of Tamil inscriptions from ‘Vattezhuthu’ (an earlier script) to the oldest “Tamil Brahmi script.” The remaining 10,000 inscriptions would also be copied, deciphered and published for the benefit of history researchers. Thennarasu, who inaugurated this epigraphy training camp for students and teachers, outlined a multi-pronged strategy to protect the Tamil inscriptions with greater vigour, as the campaign gains momentum in the run-up to the World Classical Tamil Conference at Coimbatore in June next.

The government has recently passed an order requiring individual temple trusts to consult the Archaeology department on conservation aspects before taking up renovations, Thennarasu said. Heritage clubs would also be formed in government schools to sensitise the young on preserving primary sources of history, whether they are inscriptions, coins, or precious palm-leaf manuscripts, he added.
DH News Service

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