MADURAI: A day after Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel announced that a new Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Circle would be formed headquartered in Tiruchy, a formal notification was revealing that 20 Tamil Nadu districts would fall under the new Circle.
As per the notification Ariyalur, Coimbatore, Dindigul, Karur, Madurai, Nagapattinam, Pudukkotai, Sivagangai, Thanjavur, Theni, Thoothukudi, Tiruchy, Tirupur, Kanniyakumari, Nilgiris, Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar, Tiruvarur, Ramanathapuram and Tenkasi districts would fall under the new Tiruchy Circle, formed out of the geographical jurisdiction of the current Chennai circle.
Of these, Tirunelveli, Kanniyakumari and Nilgiris districts were earlier under the Thrissur Circle in Kerala.
The Chennai Circle is now left with the 16 districts of Chennai, Cuddalore, Chengalpattu, Dharmapuri, Erode, Kancheepuram, Krishnagiri, Namakkal, Perambalur, Salem, Tiruvallur, Tiruvannamalai, Vellore, Villupuram, Tirupathur, Kallakurichi, and Puducherry.
In the notification, ASI director-general, V Vidyavathi has instructed that the establishment of the new Circles shall be subject to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Finance on austerity measures and the expenditure on account of this bifurcation should be met from within the sanctioned budget allocation of ASI.
The demand for a separate Tiruchy Circle has been long-pending and news of its creation was widely welcomed. Some of the monuments that will now fall under its jurisdiction include the Vattakottai Fort in Nagercoil, Vivekananda Rock, Chitral - Bhagavati temple at Kulitturai Parthasarathi temple at Pavithrapuram, Tirunandikkare rock-cut cave temple at Kalkulam in Kanniyakumari district. Two rock-cut cave temples of the Pandya period (circa 750 A.D) in the Sankaranarayanakoil Taluk and Valisvara temple at Tiruvalisvaram in Tirunelveli district will also come under its control.
Most significantly, the UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Sri Brihadeswara Temple at Thanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram will come under the new Tiruchy Circle.
Similarly, ongoing excavations at the prehistoric sites at Adichanallur, Kalvoi and Karungulam in Thoothukudi district and Keezhadi and Konthagai in Sivaganga districts also fall under the geographical jurisdiction of the Tiruchy Circle.