The Archaeological Studies Center of India (ASI), has begun the restoration of the Shore temple in Mamallapuram, about 60 km south of Chennai, after the Pallava temple of the time was hit by huge waves that caused its flood on June 19.
The archaeologists said that the restoration was completely necessary as they had appeared cracks in the monument, which dates back to the 7th century. The high salt content that was in the sea water, led to the formation of cracks in the granite structure, which were being sealed using paper pulp in order to absorb the salt from the structure and prevent them from breaking again.
In general, restorations carried out by members of the Study Center are performed once every five years, but in the case of the temple the damage was so severe that archaeologists have had to get down to work following the last restoration of the temple in 2010. The onslaught of waves over 12 feet high last month and the winds loaded with remnants of salt, they had weakened the 45 meter high temple in recent months, according to experts.
Of the 32 monuments that have received the consideration of World Heritage in Mamallapuram in 1983, the shore temple it is the only structure located near the sea. «The problem of corrosion is a common theme, especially for monuments near the sea. Water seeps through small cracks in the structure that soon widen, ultimately weakening the structure. Therefore, we have to repair it immediately»Affirm sources of the Center.
At present, archaeologists are working on desalinate the lower parts of a temple wall called ‘chinna vimana’ and the areas around the base, as they have been under seawater for almost a week. The presence of salt particles (absorbed by sea water) is very high at the bottom of the temple.
Salt particles are removed from the structure by a blotting paper. The paper is dipped in distilled water and shredded on a damp cloth. The shredded paper is again soaked in distilled water and turns into a paste that is applied to the structure.
Before the application, the workers of the Study Center clean the temple with distilled water to remove algae and dust. Distilled water is used because the salt in the groundwater adds to the salt in the monument. The applied paste is allowed to dry for five days before being removed and tested in laboratories in Chennai to identify the amount of salt that has been extracted.
The structure is also checked to measure the degree of salinity and humidity. It is an intense work that takes more than two weeks to desalinate a small part. After the desalination, a silicone base with water repellent chemicals is used to ensure that the monument does not absorb more water. Of the 440 monuments maintained by the Center for Archaeological Studies, there are more than 200 monuments in Kancheepuram, including the 32 sites in Mamallapuram.
The Times of India
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