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ASI cover for 3 Hajo temples

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By PANKAJ SARMA in Guwahati
  • Published 5.12.05

Guwahati, Dec. 5: Hajo, a small township 25 km northwest of Guwahati, has always been a symbol of religious harmony for its temple-mosque complex ? the Hayagriva-Madhava and Poa Mecca. Hajo now has more reasons for cheer.

Three lesser-known ancient temples there have been declared ?monuments of national importance? by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which will bring in expert care for their preservation.

Superintending archaeologist (in-charge) of the ASI?s Guwahati circle, P.K. Mishra, said three monuments ? Kedar Temple, Ganesh Temple and Kameshwar Temple ? have been included in the ASI list of protected monuments. Conservation activities will begin soon, he added.

He explained these age-old temples are classic examples of brilliant late medieval Indian brick architecture. But he rued that the monuments are in a pitiable condition owing to the lack of scientific preservation.

The Kedar Temple, which has a Shivalingam in the central chamber, is an important edifice that has been referred to in Tantric and Puranic literature.

?An inscription on the temple shows that Ahom king Rajeswara Singha (1751-69 AD) had erected two masonry walls along the temple,? he said.

According to him, the masonry building of the temple of Kameswara was built in the late medieval period while the temple of Ganesha is believed to have been constructed during the reign of Ahom King Pramatta Singh in 1744 AD.

?Owing to the lack of scientific preservation, cracks have appeared in the domes and walls of the temples. Moreover, growth of vegetation inside the temple has ruined the beauty of these monuments. Structural and environmental protection of these ancient structures will be the top priority of the ASI,? deputy superintending engineer of ASI (Guwahati circle) P.G. Krishnamurthy said.

With the inclusion of the three temples, the total number of monuments protected by the ASI has gone up to 54 in Assam.

?The inclusion of these temples in the ASI protected list is a very positive development towards the protection and preservation of the historical monuments. This is because the Assam government has failed to protect them owing to paucity of funds,? an official of the directorate of the state archaeology department said.

The Hayagriva-Madhava temple of Hajo was included in the ASI?s protected list early this year and the process of safeguarding the temple is currently on.

A monument needs to be over 100 years old bearing archaeological, religious, historical, architectural or cultural importance for its eligibility for being declared a monument of national importance.

According to norms, the ASI proposes the names of such monuments to the Union ministry of culture for consideration after closely examining the importance and various aspects of the monuments.

Following this, the ministry issues the preliminary notification and invites objections and opinions from different sections of the people or organisations.

?If the objections ? if any ? are found not to be sustainable, the final notification for declaring the proposed names as monuments of national importance by the ASI under the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, is issued,? Mishra added.

As a preliminary step for protection, the ASI has prohibited construction or mining activities in the protected sites at Hajo without obtaining prior permission from the survey.