Shiva Krupa

Temples of India signify the very root of Hinduism and its culture. To be worth of the trust reposed by our ancestors, it becomes our primary responsibility to sustain our heritage for generations to come.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Save Heritage

People simply cry foul when they see dilapidated Temples. Many villagers do not even shed a tear for the gross neglect of structures that tell stories of the past. Very few of them feel sad about itand express their inability to do anything. Outsiders are keen in taking photographs and get them published. Executive officers seldom turn to those Temples where there is no revenue. It is now upto the well wishers to take up the renovation on their shoulders and initiate awareness among villagers and offer some assistance. There are some service oriented groups who voluntarily come forward and do their best. Some are engaged in cleaning the premises and painting the walls. Some others take additional efforts to bring aid from outside. They identify the philanthropists who offer flowers/ ashtabandhana/kalasams/ Electrical repairs/ Clothes/Invitation/food etc  and collect them in the form of kind or cash. It is a remarkable and selfless job for which one has to travel a lot ,spend their time in meeting people and organising them properly.

When our attention was drawn towards the Siva Temple at Mangudi, the very presence of encroached houses presented an eyesore. Even the local Panchayat has not spared the Temple land. They have built a small building for some social purpose. However,it is always kept locked whenever we visit the place. Saving the Temple was considered as important and any delay might cause complete destruction as happened in the case of Ambal shrine.

The renovation was estimated to cost Rs one Lakh as the old structure of Ambal shrine could not be saved. To start with, plastering work of Ekambareswara sannidhi was taken up and completed within a month. As there was no support from the village upto this stage, our Sabha had to rely on our own members to start work at Ambal shrine. Two members came forward with liberal contribution which alone made the work move forward.

 The latest update is that the new shrine has taken shape with a Vimanam and "Varga" work will commence next week and expected to be completed before the onset of the monsoon. A new Idol of Goddess Kamakshi has to be installed as the original one is missing. In addtion to this, new idols of Ganapathi, Subramanya and Chandikeswara are also to be made and installed. Once the occupants leave the premises, the urgent need for the Temple is a compound wall. It is only after completing the above jobs, consecration can be planned .  Those who wish to join the Holy cause may send their contributions to " Mangudi Ekambar Thiruppani Sabha", A/c No: 1677716, City Union Bank, Thirunageswaram.

Our attention was also drawn towards another dilapidated Temple at Achuthamangalam, near Srivanchiam, Nannilam Taluk. The west facing Dharmeeswarar Temple, worshipped by Yudhishtira and other Pandavas is in a pathetic state. with lot of encroachments all around. Like in Mangudi, the Ambal shrine has fallen down and the Deity is kept in the Ardhamandapam of Swami sannidhi. Bricks are missing at many palces in the structure which is already plagued by the presence of weeds. Our Sabha has sent the first instalment to save Swami Sannidhi from further damage and the plastering work will start shortly.

Two devotees, one at Achuthamangalam and the other at Pudukottai have taken tremendous efforts to save badly damaged Temples of their places. In order to support their efforts, our Sabha has arranged for paints for the new structures at Kasi Viswanatha Temple at Achuthamangalam and Chidambareswara Temple at Thondaiman Nallur.

Under the present circumstances, lot of volunteers need to take part in field work. The task before us is huge and at the present rate it may take long time to attend every Temple. It is with this view we appeal to like minded people to do service in their region, invite funds from people whom they know and set time frame for the completion of each project. May we also appeal to everybody to contribute atleast one per cent of their income in preserving our Heritage?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Good and the Bad

The long wait is over at Thalayalangadu, about 14 km from Thiruvarur. This historic place,praised in Sangam literature and Thevaram Hymns has taken more than four decades to undergo renovation and consecration. Since we firmly believe that mere identification and publishing blogs on dilapidated temples will not suffice, we did not stop with writing about the Temple but went all out to extend all possible help. Our visits were made useful for meeting people and bring out an organised action plan . As ever, our friends generously helped in the renovation work without which the task would have been too difficult. It is well known that all village temples rely on external help to carry out the job. Until they find the donors the renovation gets postponed and dilapidation process activated. Hence it becomes important to find donors as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the already dilapidated structures.

Mahakumbabishekam was perfomed at Thalayalangadu by strictly adhering to Sivagamas. Although the locals could not afford to meet the high cost, the external help came in time. Of course, the need could not be met fully as some deficit is still faced. With clues on hand, one hopes that the dues are cleared shortly.
The Yagasala presented a beautiful and divine look and the rituals were conducted in the most sincere manner. A Shiva lingam was seen in the flame when we took picture of one of the nine "kundams" meant for Sri Nardhanapureeswara Swami.

We could witness the rare art of drawing over the pot that consisted Holy water into which "Kalakarshanam" was done. Two leading Sivacharyars were busy in" creating" the faces of Swami and Ambal and then fixing it at the neck of the "Kalasams". The job was done meticulously with lot of precision.

Everyone was delighted when the "Kalasams" with the "addition" was worshipped and taken on the heads around the Temple for Kumbabishekam.

Earlier, Go Puja,Brahmachari puja,Sumangali puja and Suvasini puja were conducted as per customs. The involvement of people in this function is exceptional.

The grand occasion in the evening marked the Celestial Marriage of Nardhanapureeswara with Balambika. Ladies participated in the event with enthusiasm. The colourful occasion was greeted by the much awaited rain which lashed the village and its surroundings for over 30 minutes.

We found time to visit two temples nearby- the first one at Achuthamangalam,near Srivanchiyam where a single devotee swings into action by constructing a Temple for a ShivaLinga as the original temple is lost. He contacts many people for help and succeeds in his tireless efforts. Shrines for Shiva and Parvathi are already built and the consecration is planned to take place in 3-4 months. A very tall "Iluppai" tree is there facing the temple.Details can be had from 9524348725.

The second temple is at Elandhavanamcheri, 2 km fromThalayalangadu. It is in a totally ruined state with no takers. The remaining structures can collapse at any time.The Mahamandapam has already fallen and left the idols under the sky. Deep roots of massive trees have ploughed into the walls of the sanctum,threatening to push it down at any point of time. HR&CE dept which controls the temple keeps a blind eye on it. No effort has ever been made to renovate the shrine. The villagers ,though helpless, look keenly that something good will happen soon. A huge" Elandhai"tree is seen in front of the temple. Future generations will be deprived of losing the Heritage sites one by one due to  negligence of this kind. The long wait is over at one place but continues at many places to differentiate the Good and the Bad.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Marvel(Less ?) Mangudi to become Marvellous

 Temples made of bricks were rebuilt with granite during Chola regime. Sembian Madevi, wife of Kandaraadhitha Chola was deeply involved in this process as she envisaged long life for the structures made of granite. She continued to contribute to many Temples even after the demise of her husband. The effort of Cholas in this direction is commendable as granite was not available in their Kingdom. They had to transport the stone from far away places by bullock carts. It is not enough to admire their devotion but it is imperative to vouch for the safety and preservation of the great Temples built by them.

Huge cost involved in building new structures with granite was the reason why the Temples of later period were built with bricks once again.Well ground lime paste was applied between the bricks and people switched over to easily available materials like cement. There are places where the bricks have whithered due to ageing and poor maintenance.One such Temple is at Mangudi, about 4 km from Thiruvidaimarudur near Kumbakonam. This place justifies its name as one can find good number of mango trees throughout the route.
The Shiva Temple at Mangudi is ruined and the shrine of Goddess is literally hanging with the help of the remaining bricks. The structure may collapse at any time due to lack of support. The idol of the Goddess is not there.

Brackets are seen to accomodate Deva Goshtas but we find a mutilated idol of Dakshinamurthi where a well carved figure of lion is shown near His feet. It reminds us the sculpture of Dakshinamurthi, seen at Vyagrapureeswarar Temple in Pulivanam near Uthiramerur.  All other Goshtas are empty.
Many huts have occupied the Temple premisses. Even the local Panchayat has encroached the Temple by building new rooms for their mid day meal scheme. As no objection is made against these illegal occupation, tresspassers continue to stay there.  When Mangudi is about to lose one of its marvels, is it not our duty to retain it for the future generations?

Having witnessed the pathetic sight of the Temple, our Sabha felt that an initiative to restore the Temple followed by evacuation of huts was the need of the hour. Plastering Shiva sannadhi was   taken up immediately after an hour long discussion with locals. Materials are being procured and the work will start in a day or two and expected to be completed by the end of the month.

Special mention has to be made here about the involvement of a Sri Vaishnavaite who is a native of the village . He was instrumental in renovating Mariamman & Perumal Temples of the village. He has come forward to join the good cause of rebuilding the Shiva Temple. We wish to thank for his  gesture  as he stands as a  good example for others in preserving the village Temples.

Readers may recall the post in this blog,posted on April10,2009  about a newly constructed Temple at Edamanal,near Sirkazhi. It is a classic example of coordinated work ,done in a professional manner. Mahakumbabishekam of this Temple will take place on 31st May,2012 with six "Kala" pujas. No stone is left unturned by the Trustees who have shown lot of enthusiasm in constructing the Temple to fulfil their father's vision of building the shrine in that village.

We also refer to our earlier post citing the good work done at Marudur by the sivacharyars who are the heredetory Trustees of Rajarajeswarar Temple here. One should visit the place to see the hard work carried out by them. It is said that King Sarjofi had deputed his minister to build the west facing Temple in order and arranged to send Veda Pundits from different places to reside at Marudur. The Trustees are understood to have taken legal steps to get back the Temple lands which are allegedly occupied and enjoyed . However, steps have been taken to renovate the Temple and  devotees are requested to contact Sri Swaminathan at 0435-2442483 for more details.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Forgotten Marvels

   It is sad to note that only few of us bother about the depleting Treasures of the past. It happens as the loss is not considered seriously. Even responsible people do not wish to come forward to render help even  at the eleventh hour. Many of us seem to believe that the moment the issue is shared through press or Internet, their job is over. We need people who followup and fight till the end. Everybody knows that it is a mammoth task and a  hardnut to crack with obstacles all the way. It is also well known that the neglected monuments loose their territory in the absence of a boundary wall. Some of us are merely interested to take pictures of the ruin and publish them in their books or save them in their picture gallery. It is high time to ask ourselves what little step we have taken to restore the dilapidated Temples. Do we wish to remain as spectators and reportors without initiating whatever step we can? Are we interested in gaining popularity when we are called "Best Blog writer" or "Best Jounalist"? Does it not show that we confine with a suitable platform on self interet? Do we drive the point beyond getting sympathy from the viewers? Which religious Magazine /Newspaper has initiated a corpus Fund and invited contributions for the purpose of rebuilding the neglected Temples?

           The erlstwhile Thanjavur Dt has scores of neglected shrines which need immediate attention. The Government and the Philanthropists should focus their attention more on this area. My recent visit to this region gave shock waves to the already disturbed mind. The two shrines at Thirumangalam and P(o)undareekapuram are crying for instant support and any further delay will present a huge heap of stones at these marvellous sites.

             Thirumangalam is around 12 km from Mayiladuthurai which can be reached by buses  that ply via Kali. One can also take the road from Kuttalam that passes through Thirumananjeri, the distance being 6 km.  The Sthalapuranam of this place has a connection with that of Thirumananjeri. The celestial Wedding held at Thirumananjeri was attended by Sage Vasishta with his wife Arunthathi.The images of this couple can be found inside this couple. The Divine couple gave dharshan to the devotees on earth. Shiva with His consort Parvathi, gives dharshan at the front Mandapam by sliding on His Bull. Moolavar is known as Bhoolokanatha and His consort Bhooloka Nayaki,who occupied a separate sannadhi in the next Prakara is now shifted to the Sannadhi meant for Nataraja . Nevertheless this Sannadhi is also facing ruin. The original Ambal Sannadhi is covered with thick growth of trees around it and the surroundings are also encroached due to the absence of a boundary wall.  The pillairs in the front Mandapam are richly carved with beautiful sculptures.

             Both Ganapathi and Subramanya are seen at the entrance of Mahamandapam. Lord Subramanya is seated on a peacock with a japa mala in his hand. Idols of Mahavishnu, Lakshmi,Saraswathi (who attended the Wedding) are also seen here. The unusual dharshan of KalasamharaMurthi with Ambal,facing south, is a treat to the devotees. Many people come here on their 60th/70th birth days to conduct the religious function at this Holy place.

             The outer prakara presents negligence of the first order. Devakoshtas are empty except the one meant for Goddess Durga. All these brackets are exceptionally carved and the one at Dhakshinamurthi sannadhi is outstanding. "Kodungai"(sunshade) has fallen at many places. Stones with inscriptions are either misplaced or used as stepping stones. The grand Vimanam of the Moolavar is extensively damaged due to the deep rooted trees. There is no point in cutting the branches as new branches will emerge at the outset of next monsoon. Rebuilding the entire structure by carefully marking stone by stone and then restoring in the same place appears to be the only option although the labour cost involved will be very high.

                 "Thirimaaligaipathi" in the outer prakaram is open to sky. It has few sculptures along with some Shiva Lingams. Ganapathi shrine is untraceable like that of GajaLakshmi. Both Subramanya and Chandikeswara sannadhi are in pathetic state as thick roots of trees have uprooted the structures at many places. In the absence of a shrine in the outer prakaram, Kannimoola Ganapathi's idol is kept in the front Mandapam, waiting for good things to happen. God willing, this forgotten Temple should be in the priority list of all those who really wish to participate in this kind of activity.

                Soundaranayaki sametha Somanatha Swami Temple at P(o)undareekapuram has become a victim in the handa of vandals. This is located between Thiruvidaimarudur and Thandanthottam. Main entrance and boundary walls have vanished and urchins have taken advantage of the same to destroy most of the beautifully carved sculptures on the walls of the Prakaram. These mutilated figures bring tears to the onlookers leaving us to think how soon the remaining sculptures and the decayed Temple can be saved.

                 Nandi Mandapam faces the Sanctum and the sculpture of a sage {Pundareeka Maharishi? -- after whom the place attained the name?} is on the right. The Rishi is seen crosslegged and his left palm is clearly viscible. Vandalism starts from here as his left hand is broken. Another sculpture of Soola Devar with a crecent is kept near him.

                 Adhikara Nandikeswara with folded hands is on the left. He carries stag and "Parasu" in his hands . He has a sword kept across his chest and wears a ring on the left ear to mark the ardhanari amsam. A nicely carved crown adorns his head. The hands of the Dwarapalas are also damaged.

                  The idol of cross legged Shiva with Nandi is absorbing. He has japa mala and fire in His hind arms and the front left arm is broken.His jatabaaram (Locks) is intrinsically carved. The kodungai{sunshade}above Him is partly collapsed and dangerously hanging. Other bracket figures include Ardhanari, Bhikshadana and Lingothbava. Ganga visarjamoorthi is a must watch for the visitors.

                    Hands are broken in the idol of Chadesanugrahamurthi. The Lord is found tying His garland over the head of Chandeesa,who sits below Him with folded hands. Devotees and Art lovers will definitely curse those vandals who have committed the sin.

                   Sometime back Thiruvadikudil swamiji of Kumbakonam had taken up the task of clearing the weeds and cleaning of the Temple premises. But the vimanams of all shrines are encircled with vegetation once again.

                   The executive officer of the Temple was contacted immediately for seeking assistance from the Government. He has promised to get all possible help from HR &CE once the renovation is started . Heritage lovers should swing into action instead of posting articles and keeping the fingers crossed. An article had appeared in the Heritage section of a leading Newspaper in 2005 itself but the attempt could not create the desired result. Not a stone has been moved since then! On the other hand, many stones are pushed down by the wild growth of trees. The heart breaking scene continues to prevail.