BENGALURU: The man who suggested moving the 250-year-old Tipu Sultan’s armoury in Srirangapatna says it was all “just discussions” for over seven years. The armoury was in the way of doubling the Bengaluru-Mysuru railway track, in 2007.
When the proposal of transporting the heritage structure was first presented, in 2009, no Indian independent firm or contractors came forward, says G Aswatha Narayana, consulting engineer and advisor for the project.
“Not only because they thought it would be controversial because the monument is revered by locals, but also because they thought it would be impossible,” he says. The `13.5 crore project has been taken up by an American firm called Wolfe Private Limited in a joint venture with an Indian company PSL. It had taken six years to find contractors willing to undertake the project.
The armoury is 20-km from Mysuru, towards Bengaluru, and comes two stops before Srirangapatna Railway Station. The armoury will be moved about 100 metres from the current location.
“If the double track is constructed, it will be fantastic,” says A S Kodandapani, an urban planner. The wider track is said to bring down travel time between the two cities by half an hour. “Heavy population of the city will be controlled to some certain extent as migration will be minimised,” says Kodandapani.
The railway track is 1.5 km short of the total 136 km long track. The existing railway line is 15 metres from the armoury.
“Two of the engineers from the company have arrived and have started the preliminary work. Another engineer will come next week and the monument is much likely to be moved on February 15,” says S K Jain, chief administrative officer of western railways. (constructions).
Aswatha Narayana had first suggested dismantling the armoury and constructing the exact replica, 150 metres away from the place. “That was the easiest thing to do but the locals did not consent to it,” he says. “The locals said that dismantling the armoury is as good as chopping off their heads.”
Dismantling or moving of ancient monument is also a punishable offence under the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act in 2010 and The Ancient Monuments Preservation Act 1904. Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act in 2010 defines an ancient monument as being 100 years or older.
His second option was vertically dissecting the 50x80 sqft armoury into four parts, making each about a 300-tonne and then moving it, to place each section on top of a new foundation. This idea was rejected by the Archaeological Survey of India. Aswatha then came across the idea of uprooting it as it is and then placing it over a new foundation.