Civil engineers must focus on heritage conservation: S. Subbaraman, Padma Shri Awardee
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Civil engineers must focus on heritage conservation: S. Subbaraman, Padma Shri Awardee

February 4, 2023

Retired Superintending Archaeological Chemist stresses on preserving two heritage buildings — Lansdowne and Devaraja Market in city

Mysore/Mysuru: S. Subbaraman, well-known Archaeological Chemist, said that ‘more and more civil engineers should focus on conservation of heritage.’ Subbaraman, who is one among eight persons from the State selected for Padma Awards, addressed a gathering of civil engineers, after being felicitated on the second day of the two-day National Seminar on ‘Innovative Infra in Civil Engineering’ organised by Association of Consulting Civil Engineers-India (ACCE-I), Mysore Centre, at Mysore Builders Charitable Trust (MBCT) premises in city this morning.

Subbaraman, who retired as Superintending Archaeological Chemist, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and resides in Mysuru, referred to the need to preserve two heritage buildings (Lansdowne opposite City Bus Stand and Devaraja Market on Sayyaji Rao Road) in Mysuru city and the need of qualified engineers in the conservation of these two buildings.

Recalling his works involving the conservation of murals and paintings at Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra, Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia, Chola and Nayaka era paintings at Brihadeeshwar Temple in Tanjore, Tamil Nadu and Buddhas of Bamiyan (the two big statues in Afghanistan), Subbaraman left the gathering in splits of laughter, as he began with a one-liner ‘My Career Lay in Monuments, Not in Ruins.’

“I went to Ajanta in February 1955 and as I walked on the winding pathway, my heart skipped the beat as it was a lovely sight,’ he said.

S. Subbaraman, retired Superintending Archaeological Chemist, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), who was recently chosen for ‘Padma Shri’ award from Mysuru, being felicitated during the second day of the two-day ‘RACE-23’ National Seminar organised by ACCE(I), Mysore Centre, at Mysore Builders Charitable Trust premises in city this morning. He is seen with (standing from left) Engineers Badarinath, Vijaya Vittal, Vijaya Vishnu Mayya – Secretary General ACCE(I), Dr. N. Ramprakash, Sandeep Shirhedkar – VP, ACCE(I) West, Dr. M.U. Aswath – Immediate Past President, ACCE(I), K.R. Garudadhwajan – Founder-Member, ACCE(I), H.S. Deepak – Chairman, ACCE(I), Mysore Centre, Dr. G.P. Chandradhara – Chairman, RACE-23, S. Shashiraj – Hon. Secretary, ACCE(I), Mysore Centre and Dr. P. Nanjundaswamy – Hon. Secretary, RACE-23.

“Ajanta is described as the acme of Art in India, as it depicts the Jataka story. The early life of Buddha, with entire gamut of human emotions have been beautifully depicted. The figures have three dimensional (3D) effect. It was indeed a prestigious challenge to work on those paintings,” reminisced the 94-year-old Subbaraman. But the credit of making first attempt towards conservation of paintings here (Ajanta) goes to Nizam of Hyderabad, he said. At Bamiyan in Afghanistan, we worked on two Buddha statues, from 1969 to 1977, visiting the site for four months every year due to cold weather. They were later handed back to then Afghanistan Government by the then External Affairs Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee (who later served as Prime Minister of India).

“I still remember the very first sentence of Vajpayee — Bamiyan Aakar Hamaara Afghan Yatra To Teerth Yatra Ban Gaya (After coming to Bamiyan, our tour to Afghanistan turned into a pilgrimage). However, the same statues were brought down by Taliban in 2001,” rued Subbaraman.

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ACCE(I) Mysore Centre Chairman H.S. Deepak, ACCE(I) Honorary Secretary S. Shashiraj, RACE-23 Chairman and Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering, Mysuru, Dr. G.P. Chandradhara, RACE-23 Hon. Secretary Dr. P. Nanjundaswamy and others were present.

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