Following the massive renovation and restoration work which was carried out at the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, the sacred shrine temple has won the UNESCO Asia Pacific Award of Merit 2017 for cultural heritage conservation.
It has become the first temple in Tamil Nadu to be given the prestigious award from the UN body. The Times of India reported that the use of traditional methods in renovating temple structures and re-establishment of rainwater harvesting and historic drainage system, to augment water and prevent flooding, were the main reasons for the temple to achieve the award.
The temple is situated on an islet between Cauvery and Kollidam rivers. It has seven prakaras and 21 towers, including the 236-feet-high rajagopuram.
According to reports, the renovation of the temple started in June 2014 and the project was carried out in several phases. The renovation costed about Rs. 25 crore, and was done with the help of government and donors.
P Jayaraman, joint commissioner of the temple told The Hindu that 60,000 tonnes of construction waste/debris were removed during the renovation. The hundred-pillar and thousand-pillar mandapams and various other mandapams, have been restored. Moreover, many sculptures in the numerous sub-shrines were also restored.
Venu Srinivasan, chairman, board of trustees of the temple told ToI that the award is a recognition for the great work done by the team including temple secretary, who was archaeologist, adviser, who was a director of archaeology and an outstanding stapathi. He also credited former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa as she had started off the project in 2015.
The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR&CE) had applied for the award in May. There were about 42 applications from 43 countries for the 2017 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The other monuments which received the award in India are Mumbai's Christ Church and Royal Bombay Opera House under Award of Merit category, reported ToI.