A draft conservation management plan (CMP) for the Kamarajar Memorial House in Virudhunagar has recently been prepared under the auspices of AusHeritage. Two AusHeritage member companies have been responsible for this project: RBA Architects and Conservation Consultants, in particular Anthony Hemingway and Roger Beeston, and IndHeritage, in particular Vinod Daniel. Mr Beeston and Mr Daniel travelled to Virudhunagar recently and met with David Holly, Australian Consul General for South India.
The project is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian Government by a grant from the Australian International Cultural Council (AICC) and the office of Mr Manickam Tagore, MP for the (local) Virudhunagar Constituency, in the State of Tamil Nadu, India.
Manickam Tagore visited museums in Australia in 2010 during his stay supported by DFAT’s Special Visits Program. He was interested in how a similar visitor experience might be created in a museum in India. In discussions between Manickam Tagore and AusHeritage, it was realised that such a project would provide opportunities to explore different approaches to conservation practice and museology between India and Australia and develop closer ties between conservation professionals in the respective countries. Kamaraj, being a person of great importance to the people of Tamil Nadu, it was thought his Memorial House in Virudhunagar would be an appropriate pilot project.
The house, where Kamaraj spent his much of his youth and life into his 40s, was purchased by the Tamil Nadu government soon after his death in 1975, along with a house in Chennai. There are no known heritage related statutory controls pertaining to the site as it is not listed on the State Department of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu who manage 85 sites across the State. It is not known if it is listed on INTACH’s National Register of Historic Properties.
The intent of the CMP is to describe what is significant about the Kamarajar Memorial House and why. In addition, policies have been developed to provide guidance for its ongoing care and in regard to future works, including changes, to ensure that these are undertaken in a manner sympathetic to the attributed heritage values. Following on from these policies, specific recommendations have been devised to implement the policy.
The sites in both Virudhunagar and Chennai have been visited by the RBA and IndHeritage representatives on several occasions, most recently during January and February 2012, involving more detailed research. The recent visit by Mr Beeston and Mr Daniel was reported in a number of Indian newspapers as shown in the following links: