Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dept told to leave old stones, restore and not replace

Following stiff opposition and disapproval from locals over the shoddy restoration work of the heritage Banganga tank at Walkeshwar, the State Archaeology and Museums Department was pulled up by Rural Development Minister Jayant Patil, Minister of State for Housing Sachin Ahir and Collector Nirmal Deshpande. The department has been asked to be extra careful while carrying out restoration works at the holy place in the second stage and given guidelines on how to go about the project.

A year after completion of the first phase of restoration of the iconic tank that rests amidst Walkeshwar’s old residences and new multi-storeys, work on the second phase of restoring the 300-year-old tank will start in February 2011. Under the first phase, original stones on the northern and eastern ends were removed instead of being restored and replaced by concrete slabs at a cost of Rs 1.8 crore. The work was carried out by a local contractor and was heavily opposed by locals who felt the original glory of the place was being lost in the ‘modernisation’. The popular pilgrimage point has 26 temples in its vicinity.

The department has now been told not to remove any more old stones. “The old stones are the essence of the place and some of them even have beautiful carvings. How can these be removed without the slightest consideration for history? We will not allow this to happen in the second phase. They have to restore the stones using principles of conservation architecture and not replace them,” said Ahir.

Archeology department director Sanjay Patil said they have appointed conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah and renowned archaeologist Dr Arvind Jamkhedkar to assist them so that they do not repeated the mistakes of the first phase.

The rectangular pool, surrounded by steps on all four sides, has sweet water despite its proximity to the sea and is considered a holy place by many. The place was first developed in 1127 and later rebuilt along with the rectangular tank in 1715 with donations from the Walkeshwar Temple on the northern edge of the tank. The temple complex and the tank are owned by the Goud Saraswat Brahmin Trust.

Shukla, Stuti. 2010. "Dept told to leave old stones, restore and not replace". Indian Express. Posted: December 27, 2010. Available online:

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