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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Mansa Devi fresco restoration work a ‘misdeed’, say netizens

Hina Rohtaki, TNN | Jan 18, 2012, 09.35AM

PANCHKULA: Expressing much anguish and outrage over the whitewashing of over a century-old frescos in the Mansa Devi Temple at Mansa Devi Complex in Panchkula, a number of TOI webpage readers and experts have criticized the Haryana government of "ruining" the mural ancient art forms in the name of "restoration".

A netizen, Balvinder Singh, of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, has commented on the online story: "This is not new....going on everywhere....need to bring awareness....about this rich and valuable heritage....!"

Another reader Anjum, who added his comment to the story, wrote: "I cannot understand why no rules and regulations applicable when any conservation work on any heritage site in India is carried out. Why are such vital decisions taken by government clerks or the layman? It is for the archaeology experts to deal with such matters."

TOI on January 10 had published the photographs of the frescos being whitewashed in the Mansa Devi Temple in Panchkula. The restoration work was hastened when the principal director of Indian National Trust of Art, Culture and Heritage ( INTACH) Nilabh Sinha pointed out flaws and lapses. The TOI team discovered that the lime plaster was being removed off the buon frescos, which the experts said could cause irreparable damage.

"A great temple demolished by the clerks of Haryana" is how Vijay Gautam of Chandigarh feels about all this. Professor Bharat Gupta in Ashok Vihar Delhi, has blamed the bureaucrats for "such a misdeed".

"It is them, the bureaucrats, who head any department even if it is the archaeological survey of India or a university. They run a system where even a clerk starts ignoring the expert opinion," he writes as his comment on the TOI story.

In the meantime, art historian and member of Spiritual Growth Forum, Rajnish Khosla, has written to the tourism and archaeology minister in Haryana, demanding a probe.

He said that his recent visit to the temple was "extremely disturbing" when he came across the ancient frescos being coated with fresh layers of white paint.

Work on the painting made on the walls and the ceiling of Mansa Devi Temple began around 1840, under the patronage of Maharaja Gopal Singh of Manimajra, and Maharaja Karam Singh of Patiala. The temple, built by the royal family of Patiala, is being managed by the Haryana archaeology department, and the Haryana Tourism Corporation is the nodal agency responsible for execution of the ongoing "restoration" work.

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