|Agraharam Renovation Project to take off at palakkad, kerala. mathrubhuminews.in|
|A street in Kalpathy Village, Palakkad district,Kerala www.deccanchronicle.com|
|well maintained agraharams atthe Udayalur village.www.thehindu.com|
In Tamil Nadu since 1960s such agraharams have started vanishing for many reasons like gradual migration of young Brahmin boys in pursuit of higher studies either in India or abroad, employment in northern states, politics, etc. Further, introduction of land reforms impacted the Brahmins who held good spread of agricultural lands, besides, politically-instigated labor problems.
The significant aspect of Agraharam is once it represented a shared space, peaceful community living where the people together could tackle civil problems, etc., collectively. When it comes to renovation of temples, etc they could address the issue with equal participation by the entire community. Unfortunately such traditional shared community spaces - Agraharams in the last decade are declining because of major architectural changes and introduction of modern homes and urbanization in the agraharam villages.
Hats off to the Government of Kerala, that has taken the right step to preserve heritage living spaces. What the other state governments in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra have failed to do, Kerala government has done it by taking serious steps to preserve and save the agraharams from further decline and degradation. The Kerala government has not only declared that agraharams are historical, heritage sites that need preservation and restoration but also banned major architectural changes to the rows of houses that dot the streets of Valiyasala, Karamana and Fort in the capital city of Thiruvantha Puram, Kalpathi and other places in Palakkad district. To cap it all, the Kerala State Welfare Corporation for Forward Communities (Samunnathi) has under taken a major repair project for which an allocation of Rs. four crores is made. Under this unique scheme, that aims at preservation of heritage living 'shared spaces of great antiquity,' ever undertaken by any other state governments, that I know of, 200 homes (a sum of Rs. 2.00 lakhs is earmarked for each unit) are selected in the agraharams of Thiruvanantha Puram and Palakkad districts. The highlight of this project is preference will be given to homes headed by single woman, physically handicapped people, kids living with poor protections and also trans-genders.
This unique project is scheduled to be implemented during the financial year 2016 and 2017. It will be well and good if other southern states will follow suit and carry out the restoration and reconstruction of houses in the agraharams in their respective states based on the model of Kerala, keeping in mind such heritage places need to be preserved for our progeny. We are already loosing many monuments of historical importance such as the Schwartz (Protestant) Church, built by Raja Serfoji, Maratha ruler in the heart of Thanjavur city (adjacent to Sivaganga park), gradually crumbling moat and tall boundary walls around the famous Thanjavur Big (Bragadeshwarar) Temple both under the control of the ASI and the rocket (Mysorian rockets of Tipu Sultan of Mysore) launching site in the Fort of Srirangapatna, Karnataka.
Centuries - old agraharams in Kerala to get facelift: The Hindu of February 09, 2016