Thanjavur (Karanthai) old Maratha building - recent demolition could have been avoided!!

 In the past one year active demolition drive is going on  in the fort area of  Thanjavur city  to remove encroachments on municipal lands and buildings over the main sewers on both sides of the streets. There are lots of illegal encroachments on the sidewalk blocking free movement of the people and vehicular traffic. 

This committed demolition drive began way back in 2017 with the pulling down  of the century-old council meeting hall of Thanjavur municipality on Gandhiji  road to build a modern spacious building with car park.  In the recent past the drive  was going on with impunity as countless building owners were not cooperative and reluctant to remove the illegal structure.  Necessity arose for the corporation to demolish front part of temples, school entrances , etc.   When the Smart Cities Mission was on  in Thanjavur, a contractor engaged by the corporation started removing  an old fort wall dating back to the 16th century on the East Rampart  and later on the South Rampart (Where Thiruvalluvar theater stood). Following protests by activists to save the heritage sites, the demolition was stopped at both areas.

Thanjavur city has countless old  buildings mostly residences constructed during the Maratha period. Confined to the fort area  only some buildings still carry the vestiges of old architectural features, domed or gently arched terrace, projected lattice windows, arcaded interior, etc. 

Several months ago there was a big uproar over the demolition of Sudarsana Sabha building (adjacent to old bus stand) as part of Smart city project. More than a century-old Ramanathan Mandram (Sudarshana Sabha), where legends of Tamil stage such as KR Ramasamy, NS Krishnan and CN Annadurai staged their plays, was demolished by the corporation. The reason given was the structure was in a dilapidated condition. In this respect I would like to recall that in the 1960 along with my friends I enjoyed watching late Cho Ramaswamy's  famous hilarious drama (political satire) Mohamed -Bin-Tughluq staged in the Sabha. The huge hall was packed to the capacity. 

The 100 plus year old Union Club (Masonic lodge) colonial club building, across the old bus stand  was also marked-out  for demolition by the Corporation office. Fortunately, it was saved from demolition and later restored. 

Historians, heritage lovers and culture enthusiasts are in rage as countless unlisted heritage structures, mantaps  heritage buildings in Thanjavur, the former capital of the Cholas, Nayaks and Marathas are being continuously demolished by government agencies and private owners  for various reasons, relegating their historical and heritage values to the backstage.

Chattri, Jaipur,

.Partly demolished Maratha bldg.Karanthai,Thanjavur,

Above image : On  July 2022 last week, an ancient building at Karanthai was partially demolished for expanding an approach road to the newly-constructed bridge across the Vadavaru. An over 200-year-old Maratha period building was demolished in Karanthai. note down the thickness of the walls and a chhatri like feature in the background. According to the official part of the building was removed with consent from the owner of the building. Note the unique architectural feature Chattri (Umbrella like roofing) on the first floor of the demolished building at the other end. ......

Thanjavur city,

Several months ago in Karanthai, a suburb of Thanjavur an ancient building was partially demolished. Reason: The old building blocked the approach road to the   newly-constructed bridge across the Vadavaru river. It is quite deplorable the vintage building that came up  during the reign of  Maratha rule (1674-1855)  was demolished for the road work.  In many cases across the country the authorities are more interested in demolishing the old structures to get the job done quickly rather than finding ways and means  to save them. their arbitrary decision does not include any historical perspectives In Tamil Nadu only the Maratha buildings in Thanjavur have Indo-islamic architectural feature called Chattri. they are semi-open, elevated, dome-shaped pavilions used as an architectural feature in the facade, In the palaces of Rajasthan they are added on the roof  with a covered ornamental canopy to give a grandeur look.

''Centuries old buildings on East Main Street in Thanjavur were partially pulled down recently in the name of clearing encroachment," said an Archeological Department official, who worked in Thanjavur. According to one  N Selvaraj,Chola Historical Research Centre president Ayyampettai  the partially demolished building in Karanthai are part of the more than 200-year-old Bavasamy Ramar Mutt - apparently a religio-cultural organization connected with the Marathas.