The massive renovation and restoration effort at the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam 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.
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.
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.