The National Monuments Authority (NMA) chairman Tarun Vijay last week met the governor of Kerala Arif Mohammad Khan regarding the declaration of the birthplace of Adi Sankaracharya in the state as a monument of national importance. After the meeting, Vijay said that Khan has assured all help to the NMA regarding giving “due importance to the birthplace of one of India’s greatest seers”.
A monument of national importance, if designated by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), authorises the central government to “maintain, protect and promote the site”, which may be considered of significant historical importance, as mandated by the Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. Currently, there are around 3,600 monuments of national importance being protected by the ASI.
Vijay said that they shall prepare a detailed report on the significance of Adi Sankaracharya’s birthplace, that dates back to the early eighth century and will submit the report to the ASI for due consideration.
In early November, the Prime Minister had unveiled a 13-feet statue of Adi Sankara at Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand.
In December last year, the NMA also did a detailed survey of important Hindu-Buddhist monuments in the Kashmir valley.
Vijay said, “Kashmir has a large number of ancient temples, Buddhist stupas and chaityas… Regrettably, none of these sites, in the last 74 years, have been recommended for designation as a Unesco World Heritage site.”
There are numerous 6th-8th century ancient Hindu sites in the Valley, and Buddhist temples from the 3rd and 4th centuries, that are being preserved by state and central units of the ASI. But most of them are in utter state of neglect, said Vijay.
In fact, the Harwan Buddhist site in Srinagar, a globally recognised monument, didn’t even have an access road, which is now being considered by L-G Manoj Sinha, Vijay said. He adds that an international Buddhist Conference can be held at this 3rd century site to cement its popularity. Similarly, Martand temple can be given a new look with rebuilding its stone blocks as per ASI norms under its guidance, the NMA chief added.