On This World Heritage Day
On Apr 18, 2016
Trivandrum is a city where we can see a part leaping towards new technologies and luxuries and the other part engrossed in the memories and richness of the past. Even as the city prepares to welcome malls and new extensions of technology parks, the reminders of a rich Travancore coexists. From the tales of Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple, the mystery of the unfinished elephant carving at the eastern gate, the myths of Padma theertha pond, the perseverance of Fort walls to the thinning Parvathi Puthanar, history is existing as an active participant in our daily lives.
But even as we take pride in our heritage and as we get goose bumps hearing the heroic tales of our Travancore Kings there is not much we do to show our respect and reverence to these structures that have stood time and attack of many foreign invasions. Seeing the soot stained rocks of the Fort walls any sensitive human is bound to wonder about the irreverence shown.
As we take a stroll from the western gate of the Fort and walk along the fort walls what we see is that the walls that stood proud once against many conquests have become the waste bin and waste burning ground of the residents around. It is a regular sight to see people burning paper and plastic waste along these walls. Though the government has built a protective fence around the walls, now the fence actually holds waste from falling off to the roads at many places. Even though the city is now equipped with cameras to watch the happenings in every nook and corner, the challenge to prevent such threats to heritage is still continuing as a reality.
In the recent incident of the stone mandapams of Padma Theertha Pond being ‘accidentally’ demolished, heritage lovers have seen how insensitive many authorities are towards ancient structures. Though it was promised to rebuild the mandapams, as rightly foreseen by the experts it still remains impossible to undo the damage. The authorities of Nirmithi Kendra owes an eternal apology for such a hasty act.
These fort walls too are under the threat of neglect. We cannot be surprised if the walls get ‘transported’ elsewhere as a part of city expansion. We would not even know about such an act until a noise is made in the media. The damage is however happening right in front of our eyes. The soot stained rocks which hold many keys to the past already gives us the warning that our inaction can give way to their ruin. And once they fall and once we lose the finger prints of time upon them for ever, future and past would only scoff at the insensitive and inactive minds of our generation.
The premises of old Kal mandapam (Shanghumugham) is full of garbage. Chakrateertham (well near the old kal mandapam is referred to as Chakratheertham - believed to be built by Anizham Tirunal) has become a cesspool.
As we know history and heritage can never be recreated. They come as a blessing and it is our privilege and pride to own them. There are no technologies that can undo the damage being done and there is no beauty in keeping them untidy. As far as we know Trivandrum is not a planned city like any large cities within India or abroad. And yet from the distant end of Chalai market if we can see the sun set through through the gopurams of Sree Padmanabha Temple and if a straight line can still be drawn along the fort gates, we should understand that our ancestors had a calculation and metrics in having each of those structures. In our daily haste we forget to see the beauty of these structures we cross. The architecture of the fort gates, the might of those stone walls and the mystery of all those sculptors we pass by are worth knowing and respecting. They have witnessed what we have not and they hold yet many secrets which are yet to be unveiled. It would be more than a loss if we just lose them all to neglect and degradation.