Tamil Nadu Hindu temples and their properties - HR & CE goes hand in glove with encroachers - 01

Two Unesco world heritage sites and 420 listed monuments spread across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry come under the management  of the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) Chennai circle which is understaffed and handicapped with inadequate funds.  With 130 plus staff, maintenance of all these  historical sites scattered across the state, some in remote places is a Herculean task . Apart, ASI needs experts to take care of technical aspects of new discoveries or repairs of damaged sites.  With respect to the latter, it requires a group  of experts specialized in latest conservation  process separately, but the existing officials are entrusted with routine work like  upkeep and others.

According to the Central minister of state (independent charge) for culture and tourism Prahlad Singh  Patel, who in 2019  made a statement on the floor of the Parliament that  next to Uttar Pradesh Tamil Nadu has the second highest number of centrally protected monuments/sites that are encroached upon,  There are 74 centrally controlled  monuments in the state, from where unauthorised occupants should be evicted. In some sites they live in a portion and construct small structures to suit them. Some unwanted people wander around and engage in graffiti on the walls , designation of images, pillars etc in  the historical sites. 

Neglected site Samanar (jain) hills, near madurai livemint.com/L

Last month when Rajaraja Chola's  Sandhya vizha was on (1038th year), the Thanjavur Brihadeeswara temple was illuminated with lights. The public and heritage lovers were sore when they heard complaints that the workers at some places near the sculptures drilled nails to fix the lights. 

The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, and Rules, 1959 are not effectively enforced to take action on the violators. As for the police station, the officers are more concerbed about the hadcore crinals, rowdies and pickpockets than about abuse of Hindu places of worship.  But, there has been no concrete effort to enforce it. 

Recent data presented by the ministry of culture in Parliament shows that ASI had not taken any action against the encroachers on the heritage sites  in Tamil Nadu in the past three years, whereas in states like  Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Haryana  the officials take serious action to  crackdown the illegal activities. Such actions in Tamil Nadu will act as deterrence to criminal activities in  the publically protected heritage sites and will reduce damages   considerably.  


The Madras High Court on Wednesday has given an order to the state government, that it  cannot use temple lands for any purpose other than holding the religious functions.The court considering the fact that temples in Tamil Nadu are not only a source of ancient culture identification but also a testimony of pride and knowledge of the talent in the fields of arts, science and sculpture gave this order. 

Hindu temple management. twitter.com

The court instructed the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department to identify and protect all temple lands from encroachers by  appointing  an officer in charge to file periodical reports. The issue was concerned  about the encroachment of lands of the Sakthi Muthamman temple near Neelankarai and the Kottai Mariamman temple in Salem. The court announced its orders in the set of pleas filed by many  petitioners over the encroachment of temple land. Justice R Mahadevan said the properties of religious institutions, particularly temples, have to be maintained properly. The court condemned the HR&CE department for not maintaining the temple properties properly.