Skip to main content

Heritage Conservation: Role of Scientific Methodology

It is said that “A people's relationship to their heritage is the same as the relationship of a child to its mother”. Our heritage is our pride and we all have some responsibility to save and preserve it for our future generation. The Constitution of India under Article under   51A (f) imposes duty on every citizen of India to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been instrumental for this sacred cause.  Different branches of ASI having technical expertise in different disciplines, work together in perfect coordination to accomplish this stupendous task. Science Branch of Archaeological of Survey of India is one of the oldest branches of ASI and was established in 1917 with an objective to share the responsibility of preserving monuments of the country in a scientific manner utilizing the best available traditional and modern methods of conservation. The main objective of providing scientific treatment to monument is to improve the aesthetic appeal of the monument, Remove all deleterious accretions and deposits, Neutralize harmful residues and prepare the surface for final preservative treatments.
There are different natural and manmade factors which are generally considered responsible for different conservation problems and cause damage to the building materials of a monument. Geological and mineralogical defects which develop during the genesis of rocks may be responsible for different conservation problems and consequent damage to the monuments. This is due to inherent weakness of the building materials.
There are certain biological factors such as Growth of Moss, Lichen, Algae, Fungi and higher plants on a monument. They not only impart a ugly look to the monument but also cause physical & chemical damaged to the building material. Bat’s and bird’s droppings/excreta cause damage particularly to fine stone works and paintings. Deposit of Bat’s excreta on stone structures in Ajanta Caves caused chemical damages to the structures. 
Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) and other chemically active pollutant species along with dust results in disfiguring of the monument. Similarly variation in climatic conditions, moisture and intense solar radiation are also responsible for the decay of specific building materials.
Conservation problems are different for different geographical areas. For example the monuments at high altitude like monasteries of Leh and Ladakh face a different type of conservation problems which are generally related to specific clay based (adobe) structures and variable climatic conditions. Similarly the monuments of coastal areas face the problem of salt efflorescence. Crystallization of soluble salts in the matrix of stone, plaster, mortar etc. is a major cause of damage to the monument. This disrupts the pore structures of the stone and slowly damages the core of the building material which is difficult to be repaired. Burning of oil lamps and ingredients used for offering puja in the temples also cause damage to the monuments.

Further acts of human vandalism also invite many conservation problems. Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act – 2010 provides for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments, archeological sites, and remains of national importance and also provides penalty against acts of human vandalism.

Science Branch of Archaeological Survey of India study the physical and chemical characteristics of building materials or the substrate (stone, rock mortar, plaster etc.). After proper diagnosis of conservation problems, an appropriate methodology is developed by experienced archaeological chemists using suitable chemicals, solvents and materials.
In order to conserve and preserve the monuments different conservation measures are planned and executed in a systematic manner to achieve best possible results. General cleaning of monuments, mud pack cleaning, removal of calcareous deposits and accretions, bio-cide treatment, consolidation and water repellent treatment, are some of them.  Very dilute mixture of ammonia solution and a non ionic detergent is used for the easy removal of accretions and biological growth with mild brushing. Bleaching powder slurry in aqueous medium is used to remove micro-vegetation from lime plastered surface.  Mud Pack Cleaning is used for the cleaning of plain and decorated marble surface in order to remove such accretions which generally do not respond to normal cleaning process. The pack is prepared using Bentonite clay to which some chemicals in a fixed ratio are added to improve the working of the pack which is based on the principle of adsorption. This method is being used successfully for the conservation of Taj Mahal and other marble structures.
Besides calcareous depositsthe deposits of carbon black/soot, stains of oil, red ocher, paints etc. also need cleaning for which suitable formulations are prepared and used as per requirements. Biocide treatment helps to retard or check the recurrence of micro-vegetation growth on the monuments. After cleaning 2-3% aqueous solution/suspension of Sodium Penta Chloro Phenate is being used for this purpose. The efficacy of this treatment is further improved with water repellent treatment which is given to the monument just after this treatment on the dried surface. The Science branch laboratory of Archaeological of Survey of India at Dehradun works in collaboration with specialized scientific institutions so that appropriate bio-cide may be evaluated and selected for specific problems related to bio-deterioration of monuments.
The Taj Mahal, Kutab Minar, Caves of Ajanta, Meenakshi Temple, Rock shelters at Bhimbhetika, temples of Khajraho, Badal gate at Chanderi, Great Stupa of Sanchi, Jahaz mahal of Mandu, and many other heritage buildings reflects our impressive composite culture. Besides providing scientific treatment to the monuments of historical and social importance, there is a need to imbibe good conservation practices for protection of our heritage.

Source :


Popular posts from this blog

कर्ण और कृष्ण का संवाद - रामधारी सिंह 'दिनकर'

Following is excerpt from poem Rashmirathi written by Ram dhari singh dinkar. Karna reply to Krishna when he told story of his birth and ask him to join pandava side. सुन-सुन कर कर्ण अधीर हुआ, क्षण एक तनिक गंभीर हुआ,  फिर कहा "बड़ी यह माया है, जो कुछ आपने बताया है  दिनमणि से सुनकर वही कथा मैं भोग चुका हूँ ग्लानि व्यथा  मैं ध्यान जन्म का धरता हूँ, उन्मन यह सोचा करता हूँ,  कैसी होगी वह माँ कराल, निज तन से जो शिशु को निकाल  धाराओं में धर आती है, अथवा जीवित दफनाती है?  सेवती मास दस तक जिसको, पालती उदर में रख जिसको,  जीवन का अंश खिलाती है, अन्तर का रुधिर पिलाती है  आती फिर उसको फ़ेंक कहीं, नागिन होगी वह नारि नहीं  हे कृष्ण आप चुप ही रहिये, इस पर न अधिक कुछ भी कहिये  सुनना न चाहते तनिक श्रवण, जिस माँ ने मेरा किया जनन  वह नहीं नारि कुल्पाली थी, सर्पिणी परम विकराली थी  पत्थर समान उसका हिय था, सुत से समाज बढ़ कर प्रिय था  गोदी में आग लगा कर के, मेरा कुल-वंश छिपा कर के  दुश्मन का उसने काम किया, माताओं को बदनाम किया  माँ का पय भी न पीया मैंने, उलटे अभिशाप लिया मैंने  वह तो यशस्विनी बनी रह

Scheme for creation of National Optical Fiber Network for Broadband connectivity of Panchayats

The Union Cabinet recently approved a scheme for creation of a National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) for providing Broadband connectivity to Panchayats. The objective of the scheme is to extend the existing optical fiber network which is available up to district / block HQ’s level to the Gram Panchayat level initially by utilizing the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF). The cost of this initial phase of the NOFN scheme is likely to be about Rs.20,000 crore. A similar amount of investment is likely to be made by the private sector complementing the NOFN infrastructure while providing services to individual users. In economic terms, the benefits from the scheme are expected through additional employment, e-education, e-health, e-agriculture etc. and reduction in migration of rural population to urban areas. As per a study conducted by the World Bank, with every 10% increase in broadband penetration, there is an increase in GDP growth by 1.4%. NOFN will also facilitate implemen

किसको नमन करूँ मैं भारत? - Kisko Naman Karu Mein Bharat?

A poem dedicated to the nation written by Ramdhari Singh "dinkar"... तुझको या तेरे नदीश, गिरि, वन को नमन करूँ, मैं ? मेरे प्यारे देश ! देह या मन को नमन करूँ मैं ? किसको नमन करूँ मैं भारत ? किसको नमन करूँ मैं ? भू के मानचित्र पर अंकित त्रिभुज, यही क्या तू है ? नर के नभश्चरण की दृढ़ कल्पना नहीं क्या तू है ? भेदों का ज्ञाता, निगूढ़ताओं का चिर ज्ञानी है मेरे प्यारे देश ! नहीं तू पत्थर है, पानी है जड़ताओं में छिपे किसी चेतन को नमन करूँ मैं ? भारत नहीं स्थान का वाचक, गुण विशेष नर का है एक देश का नहीं, शील यह भूमंडल भर का है जहाँ कहीं एकता अखंडित, जहाँ प्रेम का स्वर है देश-देश में वहाँ खड़ा भारत जीवित भास्कर है निखिल विश्व को जन्मभूमि-वंदन को नमन करूँ मैं ! खंडित है यह मही शैल से, सरिता से सागर से पर, जब भी दो हाथ निकल मिलते आ द्वीपांतर से तब खाई को पाट शून्य में महामोद मचता है दो द्वीपों के बीच सेतु यह भारत ही रचता है मंगलमय यह महासेतु-बंधन को नमन करूँ मैं ! दो हृदय के तार जहाँ भी जो जन जोड़ रहे हैं मित्र-भाव की ओर विश्व की

Analysis of Civil Services Prelims paper ( CSAT ) 2011

Anyone who is following the recent trends of civil services prelims papers , can easily predict the unpredictable nature of the paper . Also since this year CSAT has been introduced for the first time every one was curious to see the prelims paper of this year . Atlast today on 12th june suspense ended and what we found was more unpredictable than predictable .I will do paper wise analysis Paper 1 : The topics which came in paper was very much on predictable line . It was very specifically written in UPSC syllabus "General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate Change - that do not require subject specialization" , though question have always been asked from these topics but since UPSC mentioned it as separate topic this year , few questions were expected form this topic . Similarly few questions were expected from the Economics , Polity , International affairs , general science and History as well . But then , with UPSC one can never expect que

Rise of an Ordinary Kid

It was around 7 am and everyone in the heaven was waiting in line for his turn to get “Natural gift “ from the god himself . Some got artistic talent , some brilliance of mind , some management skills and so on every one was getting gifts of his choice . Unusually the line was long today and when the turn of last Kid came , the quota of natural gifts had already exhausted . Kid : My lord please give me gift of your choice. God : Son i am very sorry but I will not in position to give you any gift Kid : then (little disappointed) God : You go and prepare for going to earth , may be you will get you gift few days , few month or few years later . Kid : I didn’t get you lord ..Why few years later . God : Son every day I have  decided to give limited number of gifts  everyday . So whenever at the end of day any gift remains with me , I will give it to you. Kid : what if such day never come God : then you may have spend whole life without any natural talent . That kid devoid of any