Tamil Heritage Trust - Prof S. Swaminathan Heritage Award 2023

Award Ceremony & Lecture on Saturday, September 2nd, 2023, 5.30 PM, Nahar Hall, Royapettah, Chennai


The Tamil Heritage Trust (THT) is delighted to announce Prof. P Devi of Madurai as the winner of the THT - Prof. S. Swaminathan Heritage Award 2023.


The award, now in its fourth year, consists of a citation and a cash prize of Rs 25,000 which will be presented to the awardee on Saturday, September 2nd, 2023 in a formal ceremony at 5.30 PM.  Prof. P. Devi will also deliver the award lecture on the same evening on the topic “Hero Stones of Madurai".


The winner was picked from over 25 nominations by an accomplished jury panel consisting of Dr. A. Srivathsan, Head, Centre for Architecture and Urbanism, CEPT Ahmedabad, Padma Shri awardee Prof. Sharada Srinivasan, Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, Smt. Sujatha Shankar,  Convener, INTACH Chennai and Shri. T.S. Subramanian, Author, “The Wonder that was the Harappan Civilization” and Journalist.


Accepting the award, Prof. P. Devi said, “I am delighted that my field work centred around the Madurai region has been recognised by Tamil Heritage Trust. It is my strong belief that when local communities and youth take pride and interest in their own heritage, it bodes well for the future of the many priceless monuments in our country. I am grateful that I have had an opportunity to play a small role in this movement”. 


Prof. S Swaminathan, co-founder and Trustee of THT, said, Prof. P. Devi is our first woman awardee and this gives me tremendous joy. I wish her the very best and am hopeful that this award will give her the impetus to continue her grassroots-level work in awareness creation and conservation of heritage in the Madurai district”.


THT was founded as a non-profit Trust in the year 2010 with a vision to put the common man in touch with the rich storehouse of knowledge that is Indian heritage. The Trust which is entirely volunteer-driven attempts to deliver this through several initiatives - monthly public talks, annual thematic conferences, site seminars and study tours to places of historical interest, workshops on temple architecture and museum collections and an outreach effort through schools to sensitize young students to Indian heritage. 


For more information, please contact: 

Ashwin Prabhu – 98407 18533

Shyam Raman – 98400 98708


About the award winner - Prof. P. Devi:


Prof.  P Devi Arivu Selvam, M Pharm, PhD is the Head of Department of Phytopharmacognosy. She also holds a Diploma in Temple Architecture and is an instructor in sculpture to Temple Sivacharyas and Bhattacharyas.


Dr Devi has published 110 research papers in the field of herbal medicine in domestic and foreign research journals and more than 50 research papers on temple architecture and sculpture in daily, monthly, e-journals, seminars etc. She has uncovered inscriptions of ancient temples in and around Madurai, helped the locals understand their significance and arranged to protect them.  These include inscriptions from Maravapatti, Periya Oor cheri, Kovilur, Tiruparangunram Murugan Temple Thavai, Thorkamur inscription, among others.  


She has discovered 33 hero stones in 23 places in the Madurai area through field research and published their details in her book “மதுரை நடுகற்கள்” (“Hero Stones of Madurai”), published through the Madurai Archeological Society Facebook group. In addition, she has documented over 70 hero stones, inscriptions and archaeological artefacts through her field research.  


Dr Devi has also been involved in the restoration of and protection of heritage structures and artefacts. She was instrumental in reviving the worship of Jyeshta Devi in the Tiruparangunram temple and the “vishamurivu” inscription in Periya-ur cheri Kamakshi temple as Garudan. She has helped to identify the Perumal temple at Maravapatti as a later Pandyan temple and helped organise its renovation. She has taken steps to safeguard the Chola era inscription of 940 AD at the Yoga Narasimha Temple with wire fencing.  


She has been teaching archaeology and history to school and college students through an evidence and field research-led pedagogical approach and giving talks about historical monuments around Madurai through seminars, heritage tours and online for free.