Extinction of Masterpieces

Saturday, July 25, 2015 Travel

Preserving some of our treasured and absolutely amazing historic masterpieces should be given it's fair share of importance

The brilliance of ancient population is clearly evident from its architectural structures. The extraordinary megaliths were constructed in a way that could not be explained by today’s scientists. Several constructional features and their calculations are still under the mystery tagline in most of our books. The uncut Tiwanacu and Puma punku, the Sun temple Konark, the Nazca lines and the Stone Henge are some of the ancient masterpieces which have a construction plan still unidentifiable or beyond compare to the new age nerds. Our world is now facing a phenomenon that could be called ‘the Extinction of Masterpieces’ where these astounding structures are endangered. The world heritage sites are getting damaged or ruined each day that they can no more be called ‘Masterpieces’ but ‘pieces’. It is sad to know that enough care or attention is never directed to preserve these monuments. If you can’t preserve, at least don’t perish.

Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was built in white marble. It is no more white but yellow. The monument known for its magnificent architecture is getting damaged due to acid rains and industrial gases. Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) is a 10000 sq km area around Taj where the availability of natural gas is high. Many industries have bloomed up around Taj Mahal in the last decade for the same reason. "With the increased supply of highly subsidized fuel in the last 10 years, as many as 15 new glass bottle manufacturers have started operations in TTZ directly or indirectly," a memorandum to the Petroleum Minister said. Due to the increase in number of such industries in TTZ, the pollution level increased that caused acid rain which eventually coloured the white marbles yellow and corroded the dome.

Almost one-third of China’s great wall has disappeared. The length of the wall has been considerably reduced as some parts were ruined and destroyed due to Acts of God and Acts of Man. Though natural erosion and lightning caused some damage, the major role in destruction was handled by the Chinese population. People started stealing bricks for the construction of their houses. They literally plucked out bricks from the 2000 year old structure. Some started selling the bricks and that too with higher rates for those having Chinese inscriptions on it. The greatness of the Wall was its continuity and now we have gaps as wide that we could drive a truck through it. Keeping apart the misconception about the Great Wall being the only man-made structure that is visible from moon, the 15000 kilometre long Wall built by the emperor Ming was an exceptional architectural brilliance.

Christ, the Redeemer statue was elected as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. The statue was erected in 1931 on Mt.Corcovado which is 2300 feet above sea level. In January 2014, the statue was struck by a lightning that broke a piece from the right thumb and damaging the head. This occurred during a three-hour electrical storm with 1109 lightning strikes within the city limits. Though lightning rods are placed to safeguard the structure, it is surprising to know that they have nothing to do in guarding the head and arms which are vulnerable to attack. According to National Institute for Space Research, the statue on Mt.Corcovado suffers three to five strikes on an average every year. There was no clear explanation from the officials on questions regarding the safety of statue from further lightning impulses.

Rome’s Colosseum has been victimized by tourists’ mischief for the last 5 years. Two women from California were caught scribbling their names on one of the walls of the iconic landmark. They were caught when they were trying to pose for a picture with their names on the background. Similar incidents have raised concern from different parts of the world. Japanese tourist was caught by police in Italy after using eye-liner pencil to write her name on 15th century dome at Florence Cathedral this April. A lady was arrested for the same reason at Sigiriya, Sri Lanka this February. A couple of tourists ran into trouble at Cremona, Italy when they shattered the priceless statue of Greek War hero, Hercules trying to take a selfie with it. In 2013, a man accidentally snapped the finger off an ancient statue of the Virgin Mary at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence.

The importance of historical knowledge and learning about our past is vital. It is important to the present and future of our civilization. A monument is a part of the ancient heritage. It stands as the witness for the culture and identity of a particular clan or creed. These monuments bring forth the elegance and splendour of an era bygone. We get a glimpse of country’s past through these structures. They teach us about a time before we were born and boost the respect for those who lived in those different societies. Besides the economic aspect through tourism, there is something else about these masterpieces for which we should shape our minds to preserve them. Architectural monuments simply make a city unique.

There exist a number of sites and structures that are listed as being in danger. The Government or respective organizations should give importance to these issues. If no actions are taken right away, there won’t be any history left for the future. ‘Tomorrow’ is best taught by ‘yesterday’.

written by
Ajay Peter