--> Skip to main content

Osmosis Conservation Technique used to Preserved Mahabalipuram Monuments

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Mamallapuram Temples, earlier known as Mahabalipuram, is located along the Coromandel Coast in Tamil Nadu. The monuments are under constant from the sea and salt. Salt particles settling down in crystalline and hydrated forms are a constant threat to the monuments. To overcome this unique problem, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) is using a unique method of conservation - Osmosis.

A pulp mix made using bloating paper is used to remove the saline particles. The pulp absorbs the water and the salt gets collected on blotting papers.
Deccan Herald reports
As one heading ASI experts team in cleaning and preserving techniques, Rana told ‘Deccan Herald’, when reached over phone on the work going on at Mamallap­uram, that the main problem faced there in protecting the ‘Shore Temple’ and other structures was due to “salt spray from the sea”. Salt particles settling down in crystalline and hydrated forms is “very dange­rous to the structure”, he explained. Hence, the ASI’s conservation technique adopted at Mamallapuram is more a  mechanical method rather than a chemical one. “In fact, no chemicals are involved in the cleaning,” he said, adding, the masons use blotting paper bits soaked in distilled water.
Masons patiently pick up bits of this prepared semi-sold pulp and cover the surface of the sculptures and structures. “We leave the pulp for four to seven days and then gently remove them,” a mason doing the cleaning and conservation work at the ‘ Shore Temple ’ told this visiting Deccan Herald reporter.

What happens is the ‘osmosis phenomenon’, explained Rana. The pulp-mix that is prepared has absorption powers. So, the salt gets dissolved in the (distilled) water and gets collected in the blotting papers.