The Director, Department of Archaeology, Government of Kerala, Dr. G. Premkumar invited me to be one of the experts to participate in the field visits and seminar/workshop on the subject Conservation of Rock Paintings at Marayoor for three days from 20th to 22nd March 2015.
I started from Chennai on 19th March 2015 and I reached Palakkadu by 2 am on 20th March 2015. Dr. Hemachandran took me in a car to Marayoor and reached by 6 am.
I got ready for the inaugural programme. Dr. G. Premkumar, Director of Archaeology, Government of Kerala inaugurated the workshop. Participants and experts around 40 went in cars and jeeps to different sites viz. Kannimarioda (2), Chinaar (1), Manala (2), Jellimala (2), Vayumala (2) having over nine sites of rock shelters having paintings. We could not have discussions in the evening as the experts and participants could reach back the camp very late.
On 21st morning around 7.30 the participants and experts assembled in the front open area of the Chandana Royal Resort, Marayoor. I was asked to brief the work to be done the whole day. The experts and participants were grouped into four viz. Photography Group, History Group, Documentation Group and Condition Writing Group. Dr. Ajithkumar, Department of Archaeology, Kerala University; Dr. Pradeep, Geology Department, Kerala University; Dr. Jenne Peter, UC College, Aluva; Departmental Photographer were heading the different groups. Dr. S. Hemachandran was conducting the briefing of the groups on their assignments in the presence of Dr. G. Premkumar, Director of Archaeology. All were given formats for filling up particulars. The participants and experts went first to Atala after climbing the hill around five kilometers. The shelter area was cleaned and bushes removed. The four groups were triggered in action. After the documentation, sample collection, photographing were over, Dr. Hemachandran organized the presentation of the groups. Dr. V. Jeyaraj explained the tentative procedures to conserve the rock paintings.
In the afternoon, the participants and experts were taken to Ezhuthuguha, astate government protected monument and the groups were very active in studying the rock paintings. There was an active discussion between the experts and the DFO, Mr. Saby Vergheese. Then the groups were taken to Koilkadavu and the shelter rock paintings were studied.
On 22nd morning presentations were given by Dr. Jenne Peter, Dr. Ajithkumar, Dr. Pradeep, Mr. Saby Vergheese and Dr. V. Jeyaraj. The wholistic discussion was very informative and it was decided to give the reports in order to take action in the conservation of the rock paintings in the Marayoor area. I left for Chennai in the evening of 22nd March 2015 and reached Chennai on the 23rd March 2015.
The various conservation measures to be taken in the rock shelters are as follows:
- Complete documentation of the rock shelter paintings in various sites
- Displaying signage in the rock shelters
- Collecting samples to analyze and find out the types of rocks etc., in order to decide the type of conservation treatments.
- Studying the area above the rock shelters to stop the leakage and seepage of water.
- Cutting of the direct sunlight falling on the rock paintings by growing creepers.
- Protecting the monuments by the local people by motivating them that these treasures are ours and we should protect them.
- A panel of experts consisting rock painting experts, conservators, restorers to advise the Director of Archaeology in the conservation of rock paintings.
- After the analysis of the pigments, rocks, biological growths the conservation procedures will be arrived at. The samples will be made available by the Director of Archaeology for analyses. The analyses will be carried out by the Hepzibah Institute of Heritage Conservation, Chennai under the directorship of Dr. V. Jeyaraj.
- The report may kindly be discussed by experts and then finally to be sent to the Culture Department, Government of Kerala.
Dr. V. Jeyaraj thanks the minister for Culture Department, Culture Secretary, Director of archaeology and the staff of the department for organizing the three days workshop meaningful and useful for the conservation of the rock paintings at Marayoor area. This marathon work was carried out by the motivation of the leaders of the workshop and the students were very active in these exercises.
The hospitality, accommodation, food were all fantastic. I thank the organizers for all the cooperation and supportive hands in carrying out my work in these three days.