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Time to remove encroachments around Main Guard Gate


With the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) new circle office being opened in the city recently, conservationists and heritage enthusiasts are pushing for the removal of encroachments and putting an end to commercial activity in the immediate vicinity of the famous Main Guard Gate, a protected monument, in the city.

The Main Guard Gate, the gateway to the Rockfort, is believed to be the only remaining part of the fortifications, around the Rock Fort, established in the Nayak period and developed by subsequent rulers, including the British. In 2005, the ASI had renovated the structure and also established an Intrepretation Centre, highlighting the ancient history of Tiruchi, on the rear side of the structure.

However, down the years, the historic structure has become a part of the busy commercial hub on the NSB Road in the city. Several platform vendors operate right beneath the structure and while several shops, part of the Burma Bazaar, are situated all around the structure.

According to sources under Rule 32 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules, 1959, no construction could be taken up within a 100-metre radius of a protected monument. Yet several semi-permanent structures have come up around the monument over the years

Sporadic attempts to evict the encroachers have not been successful. Some years ago, the ASI authorities had written to the district authorities seeking the removal of the encroachments. Subsequently, notices were issued to some of the traders, who then took the issue to the courts, recalled a former officer of the ASI.

“It is a historic place and of tourist importance; but it looks like a typical commercial area. If only it was made more visible, the small museum (Interpretation Centre) will attract visitors and can be developed further with audio/visual aids for the benefit of tourists,” he observed.

Now with a new administrative circle of the ASI being created in Tiruchi, the erstwhile office of the Tiruchi Sub-Circle, situated right in Main Guard Gate complex, functions as the circle office temporarily. The creation of the circle has also triggered expectations among conservationists of better upkeep of monuments. They also hope that the civic authorities and the ASI would take steps to rid the historic Main Guard Gate from the clutches of encroachers.

“The structure is a vital remnant of the Nayak period fort and one of the most important monuments in Tiruchi district. Hence it is vital to preserve and protect it. Now that the ASI circle office has been set up here, we hope the historic structure will be preserved well with the removal of encroachments,” observed R.Kalaikkovan, Director, Dr. M. Rajamanikkanar Centre for Historical Research. Dr.Kalaikkovan pointed out that owning to the hectic commercial activity, even the presence of Interpretation Centre goes unnoticed and have not got the visibility it deserves.

Some of the civic activists have long been pressing for the removal of encroachments around the Rockfort. “No vendors or platform shops should be allowed around the Main Guard Gate and the Teppakulam. Vendors and traders should be given alternative places to operate from,” said N. Ramakrishnan,a civic activist. He suggested that the vendors and traders could be moved to public spaces and grounds available along the East Boulevard Road.

According to available indications, the ASI authorities are likely to take up the matter with the civic authorities and also sensitise the vendors and traders to the importance of the historic structure.


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