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Vice President asks architects to keep conservation and sustainability at the core of their plans

The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu addressing the students, teachers and staff of the Government College of Architecture and Sculpture, in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu on February 28, 2020.

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The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu today called upon all architects and town planners to keep conservation and sustainability at the core of all their plans. He wanted them to amalgamate tradition and technology to improve the built environment and also work towards sustainable development.

Interacting with students of the College of Architecture and Sculpture in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu, he urged students to strive to safeguard and promote the invaluable culture and heritage of the country. He wanted them to blend traditional wisdom with modern science, in their respective disciplines.

Talking about the world heritage site Mamallapuram, Shri Naidu said that the place stands testimony to India’s great heritage and that the Pallava sculptures of Mamallapuram and temple monuments such as the Shore temple, Ratha temples, Cave temples, and Arjuna’s Penance or Descent of the Ganges exhibit a rare grace and balance, besides the grandeur of architecture.

The Vice President opined that there could not be a better place for an Architecture and Sculpture college to be located. He said that one could not only see the great diversity of architecture but also see its evolution in these monuments.

Stressing the need to promote eco-friendly green buildings that use less water and optimize energy, Shri Naidu urged all professionals involved in designing new buildings to take full advantage of digital technology to build ‘smart buildings’ with automated operations.

He asked architecture students to find innovative solutions to address the phenomenon of rapid urbanization and explore ways to create amenities in rural areas that were on par with urban centers.

The Vice President also advised students to read more about literature, art forms and gain more knowledge. He asked students to enhance their understanding of Indian art forms including sculpture.

Shri Naidu also asked institutions such as the Architecture College to promote research and innovation that could make our cities happier and safer, and our buildings greener and more cost-effective and affordable.

The Vice President also appreciated the Government of Tamil Nadu for encouraging students to pursue a career in crafts such as the sculpture by providing them training and skilling.

Earlier in the day the Vice President visited Stucco (Sudhai), Stone, Metal and Wood Sculpture Work Studios, the Architecture (Brick) Work Studio and Traditional Painting Work Studio in the campus and saw the statue of Lord Venkateshwara.

Stating that sculpture was one of the best art forms to express Indian culture, Shri Naidu stressed the urgent need to recognize and promote the inherent skills hidden in youth. For this, the Vice President suggested incorporating skilling as an essential part of the education system. “Schooling and Skilling Must go together,” he said.

The Vice President appreciated Mamallapuram sculptors for using the hammer and-chisel technique for carving and also for following the time-consuming process enunciated in various Shilpa Shastras.

He lauded the exceptional skills of the sculptors and their ability to replicate complex pieces of art of the Pallava era. “Immensely happy to have seen the work done by students of the Architecture and Sculpture College. A visit to this center of excellence in art and architecture makes me feel rejuvenated”, the Vice President added.

During his visit, the Vice President also unveiled the statue of Saint poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar in the institution’s campus.

The Minister for Tamil Official Language, Tamil Culture and Archaeology, Shri K K Pandiarajan, Additional Chief Secretary to Government, Shri Ashok Dongre, and the Principal of Government College of Architecture and Sculpture, Mahabalipuram, Dr.Rajendran, and other faculty members were present during the Vice President’s interaction with students.

Following is the full text of the speech –

“Sisters and brothers,

I am delighted to be here amidst all of you today in Mamallapuram.

The name Mamallapuram itself invokes reverence and awe in our hearts. The town’s rich cultural heritage, its magnificent Hindu temples, caves and carvings mesmerize people from all over the country and world.

This is a rare UNESCO World Heritage site where four types of temple monuments co-exist. Here we have —

Shore temple – one of the oldest structural stone temples

Ratha temples – the perfect example of monolithic Indian rock-cut architecture

Cave temples, and

Arjuna’s Penance or Descent of the Ganges – which is one of the largest open-air rock reliefs in the world

One can not only see the great diversity of architecture but also see its evolution in these monuments.

Besides the grandeur of architecture, the Pallava sculptures of Mamallapuram exhibit a rare grace and balance.

I feel that there could not be a better place for an Architecture and Sculpture college to be located.

This town, which was once a major seaport of the ancient Pallava kingdom, is also blessed with the natural beauty.

Mamallapuram is a place where nature and culture come together. And by respecting and preserving both, we can create a brighter future for posterity.

My dear young friends,

Art and Culture represent the zenith of mental and emotional evolution of mankind.

We are lucky to be the inheritors of a great culture.

Ours is one of the oldest living civilizations of the world.

We had a glorious past when India reigned as the ‘Viswaguru’ to the world.

The state of Tamil Nadu which is the birth place of Bharatnatyam and home to a rich tradition of classical music, has immensely enriched India’s composite culture.

Today, I was delighted to witness the colorful art forms, Thappattam, Oilattam, Karagattam, Kai Silambam. Along with classical art forms, Tamil Nadu has an equally rich tradition of folk art forms as well.

The Bhakti movement that embraced every section of Hindu society and every part of the county, originated from this part of India.

Tamil was the very first language to be recognized as a classical language of India. Its rich literature is inspiring and its poetry has universal appeal.

The timeless wisdom of Tirukkural still continues to guide us. It teaches us the values of sharing and caring and Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam when it says –

“Like life is linked to the flesh,

love is integral to life.”

The grand temples of Tamil Nadu such as Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple, Tanjore Brihadeshwara Temple, Srirangam Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple are an eloquent testimony to the supreme talent and skill of our architects and sculptors.

My dear young students,

These monuments should spark your imagination.

Just think of the depth of vision of the ‘sthapathi’ — the master architect — who conceptualized and constructed these grand temples!

These monuments are not just art forms, but also engineering marvels.

Our engineering students should draw inspiration from those ‘sthapathis’. They must envision how they built such monuments, the techniques they used, the blueprints they drew and the platforms they erected to carve sculptures at such great heights.

How resourceful, skilled and committed these builders would have been.

You are truly fortunate to be students at this college in Mamallapuram. This whole town acts as an extension of your institution. There are invaluable lessons hidden in every carving, every edifice, every sculpture; you need to only focus, internalize and assimilate.

Today the disciplines of Architecture and Planning are of immense value and significance.

This is because the role of Architects and Planners in 21st century is not limited to merely designing and giving shape to human settlements and buildings.

Now architects have to be innovative and creative to meet the requirements of a fast-changing world in which digital technologies are playing a pivotal role in shaping every aspect of life.

Today, the twin principles of conservation and sustainability must be at the core of all your plans.

This is particularly important for professionals involved in designing new buildings.

The need of the hour is to promote eco-friendly green buildings which use less water and optimize energy and take full advantage of digital technology to build ‘smart buildings’ with automated operations.

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency under the Govt. of India has launched Energy Conservation Building Code for greener buildings.

 I call upon each one of you to adopt this code as your own and also motivate others to construct energy efficient buildings.

To address the phenomenon of rapid urbanization and to moderate the effects of migration to urban areas, there is a need to evolve ways to augment the infrastructure and facilities available in the rural and peri-urban areas.

While doing so, there is a need to amalgamate tradition and technology to improve the built environment and also work towards sustainable development.

It is important to create amenities in rural areas that are on par with urban centres.

At the same time, it should be ensured that rural areas are not turned into concrete jungles. Our built environment must be a perfect blend of modernity and tradition.

It is also important for architects and city planners to uphold our culture and protect nature for a better future.

I am sure that your learning in this institution must have inculcated the right qualities in you to be dynamic and responsible professionals.

Dear students,

India is one of the fastest growing major economies in the world and we are well on our path to become the third largest economy of the world.

An incredible array of opportunities awaits you as you step out to pursue your dreams and achieve your goals.

You should never remain complacent and always aim at achieving excellence.

You should become trendsetters in your field and become proactive partners in India’s growth story.

Here Saint Thiruvalluvar’s timeless words of wisdom. In Tirukkural, he says –

“What separates the great from the ordinary,

is their ability to do the seemingly impossible”

As you all are aware, techniques of designing of buildings and planning of cities have evolved over the years and play a major role in creating healthy and prosperous societies.

The leading scientific universities of the world are not just focussed on teaching, but are intent on becoming the nerve centres of innovation and incubation of appropriate technologies that can reach and touch the lives of masses.

I urge this institution to promote research and innovation that can make our cities happier and safer, and our buildings greener and more cost effective and affordable.

I am happy that this institution is playing an important role in preserving and promoting our ancient culture heritage by training and skilling sculptors.

I was very happy to have visited Stucco (Sudhai), Stone, metal and Wood Sculpture Work Studios, the Architecture (Brick) Work Studio and Traditional Painting Work Studio in the campus and to have seen the statue of Lord Venkateshwara. 

It is heartening to note that Mamallapuram sculptors still use hammer and-chisel technique for carving and they still follow the time-consuming process enunciated in various Shilpa Shastras.

It is indeed a matter of admiration that the present day sculptors have exceptional skills and possess ability to replicate complex pieces of art of the Pallava era.

Owing to these unique characteristics, the hand-crafted stone sculptures of Mamallapuram were granted the Geographical Indications (GI) tag in 2017.

This recognition will help promote this ancient art and provide protection to the artisans and sculptors in safeguarding their business interests.

I hope each one of you will keep striving to safeguard and promote the invaluable culture and heritage of this great nation and blend traditional wisdom with modern science, as you achieve mastery in your respective disciplines.

I wish you all the very best in your future endeavors.

Thank you.

Jai Hind!”

Feb 28, 2020

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