Kalahasti tower collapse - some observations
  • Hi Folks-

    I have seen several pictures of the crack in the Rajagopuram, and the flash of videos on SUN TV. It appears to me that the crack - which ran pretty much vertically through the nearly the entire gopuram height, and on either side of the crack horizontal alignment continued to presist- indicates that the two sections of the gopuram were moving away from either other. [Meaning - no settlement issues were the cause] The powdery heap of the gopuram was s puzzle to me. There must have been stones used in the construction. The angle of the powdery heap suggest the gopuram construction was quite different from the others that I have closely studies. The heap lends credible support for the "clay-based" construction reported by one of our colleagues. Most of the gopurams in Tamil Nadu are construted with granite base, with upper brick and mortar construction. [Chola gopurams were all granite with no mortar, but used inter-locking granite blocks approach]

    In any case, the Kalahasti gopuram could have been saved with lateral structural support. Lack of timely attention is indeed resulted in the sad loss. I wonder if it was engineering incompetence or a lack of sense of duty and responsiblity.

    [I am an engineer, but not a structural engineer]

    Raj Mutharasan
  • Hi Raj,

    I've been thinking about it ever since it happened, too. It's important to
    separate the engineering puzzle (why exactly did it fall) from the general
    issue at hand (how did the authorities allow this to happen in the first
    place). If Shankar's recollection is correct, it's not been too long since
    the last time the kumbabhishekam was done, the whole purpose of which is to
    provide essential maintenance to the temple, aside from
    whatever spiritual/religious reasons there may be.

    The general problem is one of neglect and a lackadaisical attitude towards
    maintenance. Often, maintenance at temples is a matter of slapping on
    another coat of (garish, acrylic) paint, sandblasting the walls to "clean"
    them, pasting the latest in bathroom tiles on the walls everywhere, building
    a "mandapam" or roof which is totally at odds with the architectural style
    of the existing structure and pocketing bits of money at every stage. I
    don't mean to suggest that _every_ temple administration is like this, but
    enough of them are, such that it permeates every level of temple culture.

    But coming to the specific issues...
  • You make good points Shash. i don't disagree with any.

    We know that Gopurams have collapsed in several temples. I have seen many pictures. If my memory serves me right, either Azhagar Koil or one near it has its tower down in the rubles. Therefore, what contributes to their demise is a useful study. Perhaps this has already been done, and if there is a person knowledgeable on Gopurams, their insights would add richness to this conversation.

    In any case, what I would be interested in is an effort to sensitize the authorities. Preservation of our heritage with utmost care has to be pushed from the highest level. At the least the media should speak up as well. A sustained campaign of writing to Editors and to temple authorities, even though sounds passive, can help improve the situation.
  • I heard that
    1. Thenkasi tower was damaged by thunder long back and reconstructed by daily thanthi group.
    2. Virudhachalam also had a damaged tower, which was repaired.
    Is that true?

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