Old Cuddalore District Collectorate building - TN govt should take guidance from ASI or INTACH

Cuddalore  Dist. Collectorate building, cumaps.net/en

Collectorate building, Cuddalore, TN cuddaloreonline.blogspot.com

In the 18th century  after several skirmishes with the French army  and Tipu Sultan of Mysore, an alley of the French, the British took control of  the region part of which lying between Palar and Portonovo rivers  became South Arcot District. The first collector of this district in 1801 was  Captain Graham who was with the East India company's military. Vide records in the  Madras district gazetteers  with respect  to South Arcot (1962 ) we understand  the name ‘Arcot’  is derived from Tamil ‘Aaru kadu’ meaning six forests which  were supposedly the abode of Hindu hermits./rishis.

Location map Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu. mapsofindia.com

The old  Cuddalore  District Collector's Office in Cuddalore town   is  functioning  in a heritage building  built with Indo -European style of architecture. Past  several years its upkeep by the govt. officials  has been  very poor. Because of govt. apathy and lack of  interest in saving a heritage structure, the building  is showing the impact of poor maintenance coupled with time factor and  the effects of  vagaries of weather being on the coastal area.  Details regarding its date of construction, etc., are not available. However,  the building has been around for about 150 years.  In 1993  Cuddalore District was carved out of South Arcot district. 

However, the old Collectorate building seems to have undergone some  changes by way of  some additions and repair work without proper planning and foresight.  It is quite imperative that   when additions and repairs are made to century plus old   heritage structures, precaution should be made not to disturb its original design or parts.  Invariably, the builders give a damn to their old charm and heritage values. They use construction  materials that do not match old buildings that were  constructed  with old  traditional  techniques. The contractors  carrying out repair work  have  neither any fundamental  knowledge of conservation of old structures  nor do they value the heritage  aspects in those structures under repair.  

As for the Cuddalore  collectorate building,  alterations and additional  building construction done by contractors mar the beauty of the colonial edifice. Because they never ever do research and choose construction   materials similar to the ones   used  centuries ago.  The addition of a new portico in  the fa├žade of the building  at the entrance is at odd with   Indio European styled structure. The haphazard construction and repair work  done in a hurry show the beautiful building in poor light,

When dealing with old monuments,  as for repair and conservation, discretion must be used  before embarking on the work.  Altering the old architecture, changing   color coating, flooring, replacing the original wooden doors with glass  doors  according to  whims  and fancies of  builders  is a horrible mistake.  It is to be assumed that  to the contractors  money matters more than that of   heritage of a monument. 

The govt  both at the center and state must make it mandatory to consult the ASI and  INTACH. whose workers and conservation engineers have lots of experience and they know how to bring back the old structure back to old splendor without compromising  on their heritage values.  TOI dated 24 December 2020 in an article mentioned that  29 heritage buildings in Tamil Nadu will get a facelift in one go. Among the sites included the old Cuddalore  collectorate building.  Rs.80 crore had been sanctioned  for the renovation work od many structures.