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Monday, 16 January 2012

Ridiculous to wipe out frescos, says expert

Hina Rohtaki, TNN | Jan 16, 2012, 04.03AM IST

PANCHKULA: "It is ridiculous to wipe out the frescos." This is what Gurmeet Rai, director of Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative (India) and managing trustee of Punjab Heritage Preservation Trust, had to say about the white-washing of over-a-century-and-a-half-old frescos at the Mansa Devi Temple.

Gurmeet, who has been involved with conservation work at Harmandir Sahib, was reacting to the news about the so-called restoration work being carried out by Haryana government at the shrine.

TOI had reported how the white-washing of frescos at the temple had been ridiculed by Indian National Trust of Art, Culture and Heritage (INTACH), whose principal director Nilabh Sinha had said that it is not only against rules of restoration of old and rare works of art but would also damage these rare paintings on the walls of the shrine.

Gurmeet, who directed two projects namely the Krishan Temple and Lakhpat Gurudwara, which received UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards, echoes the sentiments. She said, "I feel it is just being insensitive and high-handedness of the temple authorities. Mansa Devi Temple was the trendsetter for frescoes and their conservation in early nineties. It should be done the way SGPC is getting the frescoes conserved at Harmandir Sahib. People have got their sentiments attached with the temple."

She added, "Conservation is the need of the hour. It is appalling that one could damage such precious heritage."

"It is bad that limewash has been used on such frescoes which were significant for the temple. I haven't been to Mansa Devi temple but have heard a lot about the frescoes which were tourists' attraction. There was a time when the conservation of frescoes at the shrine used to be emulated by others," she pointed out. It was on January 10 when TOI had taken photographs of the frescoes being white-washed at the Mansa Devi temple and the same was termed as 'restoration' by the Haryana government. The temple is under the Haryana archaeology department, while Haryana Tourism Corporation is responsible for execution of the ongoing conservation work.

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