90% of restoration works have been completed: Archaeology Dept. official
The famed Thirumalai Nayak Palace, one of the important tourist attractions in the city, reopened to public on Wednesday after a gap of over nine months since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the palace, where major restoration work is almost completed, saw very few visitors.
King Thirumalai Nayak built the palace in 1636 AD. The present structure was the main portion where he lived and held his court. It has a rectangular courtyard flanked by huge and tall colonnades, natakasala (theatre), palace shrine and sculptural yard.
According to officials of the State Archaeological Department, the original palace was four times the size of the present structure.
A tourist notice board at the venue says the then governor of Madras, Lord Napier, took steps to restore the palace from further ruin.
Deputy Director of Archaeology R. Sivanandam said that around 90% of restoration work at the palace had been completed. “The remaining works will be completed within the next few days.”
The restoration work was undertaken through a loan of ₹3.3 crore received from Asian Development Bank.
The facelift was necessitated as the majestic monument was defaced over the years — pillars ruined by pigeon droppings, paintings on the walls peeling off, and graffiti covering walls and pillars.
Mr. Sivanandam said the damaged portions of the domes had been restored. “Earlier, the water seeped into the palace from the domes. We have taken steps to address the issue,” he said.
The massive pillars along the courtyard had also been restored and whitewashed. “The unique aspect of the restoration work was that all damaged portions were repaired using the material originally used,” he said.
Pointing to a damaged portion in one of the pillars along the courtyard, Mr. Sivanandam said the first layer of the pillar was made of granite, the second was made of bricks and the final layer was made of limestone. “The limestone was brought from Kazhugumalai and Pollachi. Materials like chebulic myrobalan and jaggery were also used for the restoration work,” he added.
A huge net has been fixed to cover the open courtyard to prevent pigeons from entering the palace.
An official from the State Archaeological Department said it was important that the public refrain from vandalising the walls and pillars of the palace, which was being restored with difficulty.
Although the restoration was scheduled to be completed earlier, shortage of labour and difficulty in transporting raw material during the lockdown led to delay in completion of the project, said officials.
The State Archaeological Department also received funds from the Central government for restoration of the natakasala, palace shrine and sculptural yard. “These works will begin from January,” said Mr. Sivanandam.
Apart from this, the department had also submitted a proposal for construction of wooden boxes for pigeons on top of the net fixed in the open courtyard, he added.