Sree Vadakkunnathan Temple gets prestigious UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award for Excellence

Trichur, a city in Kerala, is famous for two things – Thrissur Pooram, an annual Hindu temple festival, and Sree Vadakkunnathan Temple, which has been awarded the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award for Excellence. The award was given to the Board President, which runs the temple by UNESCO representative Moe Chiba.

Ms. Moe Chiba said that the Temple has been restored keeping in view the beliefs and contemporary conservation practices, and it is a milestone in the art of restoration. The process used for restoration was a mix of indigenous knowledge and local building techniques.

Vadakkunnathan Temple is an ancient temple and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in the city of Thrissur in the southern state of Kerala. The temple is a classic model ancient architectural style of Kerala and is distinguishable by the four towers on the four sides known kuttambalam.

The temple according to popular lore was built by Parsuram, the fierce Brahmin warrior in whom Vishnu had incarnated to exterminate the Kshatriyas, who had become evil and sinful. The ground near the temple is also the venue for the annual Hindu festival of Thrissur Pooram.

The temple had been ravaged by the vagaries of time and nature, and it was upon the devotees to restore it to its past glory. Chiba said that despite difficulties the local devotees have successfully restored the temple to its glory.

Around hundred artisans toiled for a decade for the conservation project. The stakeholders, expert craftsman, and workers were presented with a brass plaque as a part of the award and certificates.

Established in2000 by UNESCO, the Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation is given to promote the rich heritage of Asia and the Pacific.

The restoration work began nearly a decade ago and was initially done by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). The work was started on the kitchen, murals, and wood carvings. In 2005, the restoration work was awarded to Venugopalaswamy Kainkaryam Trust (VGKT), Chennai, the donors, for its overall conservation, with ASI serving an advisory role.