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.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Manakkal Then and Now

In his outstanding book, "Cholas" , Sri Neelakanda Sastri says,  " From the Tenth Century A.D., the period of Chola rule was a great epoch in the building of structural stone Temples. The walls of the new Temples, their pillairs and plinths were  usually covered with inscriptions in course of time. We are expressly told that before old structures were pulled down for rebuilding a shrine, the inscriptions on the walls , in many cases copied out in books and re-engraved later  on the walls of the new structure.Even brick Temples had,sometimes, some inscriptions engraved on their walls. We shall never know the extent of damage inflicted in recent years by the ignorant piety of renovators of ancient shrines. Government have been unduly slack in stopping such damage ; they have even refused to lay down a procedure to be followed by renovators which would have minimised the extent  of the damage. " This call seems to have been put in the back burner as neither the Government nor the renovators pay enough attention to preserve the inscriptions on the old structures. Be it a painting or an inscription , the irreparable damage is being caused in many Temples. What's more! A recent Newspaper report says that the ASI has "lost" many archaeological sites. Even the places where the inscriptions had been documented earlier are not looked after properly  to  see the present condition. Proper guidelines are yet to be framed and monitored to prevent destruction in the future.

It is true that some awareness has been created due to which the renovators pull down the structures only after numbering the stones. Once the weeds and Trees are removed from the joints, the structure is re built as guided by the numbering system. In the absence of such a system, we find that the inscriptions are misplaced and the continuity is lost.

  OLD VIEW OF VIMANAM                                                                              NEW    VIEW

With the view to halt any further damage, there are some renovators who avoid painting on granite walls and never indulge in disturbing the old paintings on the walls. One such Temple is at Manakkal, 6 Km away from Thiruvarur. When our Sabha joined the renovation work with other renovators, it was decided not to touch the century old paintings. The wall around the Sanctum that contains the inscriptions were not painted. Hence the painting was done only for the brick vimanams and new structures.



The Main entrance was without Raja Gopuram. The only addition to this is the arrival of "Pancha Murthis"  with bulls on both sides . This arrangement is seen in many Temples (such as Kudavasal, Nalur Mayanam,Thalayalangadu of this region)where there is no Rajagopuram at the Main Entrance.

The Priority was to retain the century old Painting as such as it was feared any repainting would change the original look. The Dwarapalaka/Dwarapalikas Paintings at the entrance of the Swami & Ambal Sannadhis were given background painting in order to boost the original image.  It is surprising to see that the figures drawn with ordinary colour powders have stood for many decades. The top panel at Swami & Ambal shrines has the figures of Somaskanda,Gaja Lakshmi ,brilliantly painted.

The Nataraja painting at the Mahamandapam is done marvellously. The Lord is seen performing  Ananada Thandavam. Sivakama sundari is standing nearby and the Rishis, Pathajali & Vyagrapatha with folded hands on both sides. To the rightside of the painting is another one with the figures of Saivaite Acharyas and Sekkizhar and to the left side, Agasthya Muni is seen worshipping a Shiva Linga. The whole set of painting is left as before and only the background color is introduced with great care.

New Shrines were built in the outer Prakara to house the Murthis of Ganapathi and Subramanya with Mahamandapam in the front. The construction of the shrine is shown here  with pictures taken at different stages.

Yagasalai was raised in front of the Temple and five Kundams each for Swami and Ambal were constructed. Separate Kundams for Ganapathi,Subramanya and other Murthis were also constructed.
Ganapathi Homam , Navagraha Homam ,Dhana Poojai, Pravesa Bali,Rakshogna Homam and Vasthu santhi were performed in lieu of the Maha Kumbabhishekam.

Holy water was brought from Vettar, a branch of Cauvery and Angurarpanam was performed on the first day morning. After performing Rakshabhandhanam,grahapreethi etc kalakarshanam , a ceremony to transfer Power of the Murthis into Holy water contained in New Vessels was done as per Sivagamas. Kala Pooja was carried out for four times at the Yagasala prior to Kumbabhishekam. Among the various events, speciall mention has to be made to Visesha Sandhi , Brahmachari Puja, Lakshmi Pooja, Dhampathi Pooja,Suvasini Puja,Kannika Puja which were done meticulously.

Ashtabandhanam was prepared and applied at the Pedastal of all Murthis during 3rd Kala Puja. All credit should be given to the Sthapathi who applied the Ashtabandhanam so well.

The Temple took a grand festive look right from the early hours of Sunday, 15th Sept 2013. People who waited so long for the memorable event to happen arrived in big numbers. Poornahudhi was performed at the Yagasala around 8. 30 A.M. and the Kalasams were taken in a Procession around the Temple and reached the top of each sannadhi. Holy water was poured over all Kalasams sharply at 10. 30 A.M. watched by hundreds of devotees. "Thiru Kalyanam" was performed in the evening which was witnessed by a large number of devotees.

Although the locals pay rich tribute to the service of our Sabha, it was only because of the hard work and cooperation of the locals, the dream-event  became possible. Many of them postponed their personal work and stayed back in the Temple to arrange everything as prescribed. Our gratitude also goes to the team of Sivacharyars who performed the event to the great satisfaction of everyone.

Veda Parayanam and Thirumurai Parayanam were held as a part of the mega event. Oduva Murthis explained the significance of the event and gave details of Panns and the greatness of Thirumurais.

Our Sabha has kept an inscription at the Mahamandapam which records the date of the grand event along with Appar's Thevaram Hymn that mentions the name of this place. While thanking the locals, we expressed our opinion that the event was only a beginning and a lot remains to done in the future for up keeping and developing the Temple. The message was well received by them with a vow to preserve the ancient Shrine in a best possible manner.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Projects nearing completion

Rural side continues to present a sorry figure. Unless the locals are proud of their culture, the Heritage sites will miss their attention and dilapidation seems to be the outcome. The Cauvery delta blessed with large paddy fields becomes dependable on good inflow of water in the river. Even though the Temple lands produce a bumper harvest, the beneficiary is not the Temples but others who refuse to pay the dues. In the absence of caretakers, the Temples face destruction,thanks to the wild growth of trees on the structures that accelerate the process.

Rural Temples situated around Pazhayarai and Needamangalam face the similar fate. However, there are some places where some initiatives have been taken with external help to rebuild the dilapidated Temples. It gives some solace when we see the renovation work is almost over. But assistance is required to  complete the  projects to  consecrate them.

Thirumandangudi is about 5 km from Swamimalai where the Chola Temple of Thribhuvaneswara is located. All idols are shifted to a makeshift Teple nearby after performing Baalaalayam ceremony in 2010.  Inscriptions are seen on the walls of the Temple. Inscriptions belong to Rajaraja III (1241 A.D. ) give an account of the taxes levied. The Main Deity of the Temple was called as Thribhuvanaveereeswaram Udayaar. One should not miss the beautifully carved "Gomukham".  A mandapam is constructed in front of the Sanctum. The consecration will be conducted on Monday,16th September between 9 A.M and 10 A.M. More details can be had from Mobile Nos: 99763 51003 and 99425 14502.

Kailasanatha Temple at Koonanjeri is nearby and known for special Pujas offered to  Bhairava on Ashtami days. Worshipped by Ashtavagra, the Temple has eight Shivalingas in a row There are two shrines for the Goddess. The renovation and consecration was done few years ago before which the Temple was in a highly dilapidated state.

Chozhan Maaligai is a part of Pazhayarai where we see a fully dilapidated Shiva Temple. The remains are scattered all over the place. Shivalingam,Ganapathi and Nandi are temporarily housed inside a thatched shed. A Shivalingam is seen amidst bushes in the prakaram and a headless statue with folded hands (resembling Appar) and a Yali panel are also left there.

The shrine of the Goddess is also in a pathetic state where the idol of ths Goddess is not seen. The priority now is to protect the remaining murthis by constructing a wall around the Temple and then start the renovation work. It is also said that the Cholas worshiped eight Kali Temples in this region and all are protected now.

Nathan Koil is on the other side of Pazhayarai where the picture is heartbreaking! A huge Shivalingam is the only deity present in the west facing Temple. The "Temple" stands close to the road. Devotees have constructed a shed over the Murthi and arranged for Puja once in a day. Steps are yet to be taken for constructing the Temple.

Reddy Palayam has an unique Temple known for Uththarapatheeswara reminding us the legend of Thiruchengattangudi. The Sanctum houses the Deity of Utharapatheeswara and a Shivalingam is seen under the "Aathi" tree. Devotees have constructed a new Mandapam infront of the Sanctum and the consecration is going to be held in the month of Avani.

At Peria Guruvaadi, we come across yet another Temple which was almost ruined by the growth of Trees with strong roots. Some youngsters of this village have done a great job    that deserve commendation. They removed the heavy granite slabs which were disturbed by the trees after marking them suitably. Since they had to raise the level of the Sanctum, they brought granite stones from outside and laid a strong foundation over which the original structure was rebuilt. As the original Nandi in front of the Sanctum was a damaged one, efforts are on to replace it with a new one. Their main anxiety is to find donors to build a wall around the Temple.

The Shivalingamurthi in the Sanctum is swayambu and Gangavisarjanamurthi is seen behind the Moola murthi which is unique and perhaps the only place of this kind. Peria Guruvadi is 17 km frm Mannargudi, 22 km from Thiruvarur, 5km from Thirukkollikkadu,a Sani Nivarthi sthalam and 3 Km from Thiruvendurai,sung in Thevaram.

Devakoshtams of Dakshinamurthi and Lingothbavamurthi are awesome. Strangely, Bhairava is kept inside a Devakoshtam. Akilandeswari ,The Goddess occupies a south facing shrine The consecration is planned for sometime in January 2014 after erecting a fence around the Temple and constructing a Mahamandapam in front of the Sanctum. Further details may be had from Mr Venkataraman, Mobile: 9786386104

Soundara Nayaki sametha Sundareswara Temple at Peria Kothur is also in a dilapidated condition.Strong roots have moved the structure at many places. The roof at the entrance of the Sanctum may fall at any time. Murthis are kept inside a makeshift Temple nearby. Outer wall is the need of the hour and urgent steps are required for saving the Temple from ruins.

Similar efforts have been made at Sendhangudi, on the southern banks of Vennar in Needamangalam Taluk. Nagavalli sametha Nagaeswara Temple of this place is renovated and consecration is to be held on 16th Sept. This is located 5 km from Thirukkollikadu and   4 km from Thirunattiyathangudi  and accessible from Vadapathimangalam. Further details can be had from Mr Natarajan,Mobile: 9751214748

Thottakudi is a small village on Manakkal Aiyampettai - Srivanchiyam  road . The renovation work of the dilapidated Temple of Maragathavalli sametha Manikandeswara Temple was initiated in 2004 and yet to be completed. This Shrine belongs to the period of Rajaraja Chola. The Deities are in the baalalayam and it may take some time to complete the work before taking up the consecration ceremony. More details may be had from Mr Sekar on his Mobile No: 8883278497

Friday, July 19, 2013

Manakkal back to old Glory

As pointed out many times earlier, we derive complete satisfaction only when the Temple we identified for early renovation gets a face lift and consecrated. It is therefore imperative to work ahead for the completion of the project with the support of the locals and Philanthropists. Once initial drive is initiated, the momentum gained is unstoppable and with the Grace of The almighty, the wish is granted miraculously. All that is needed is boundless devotion and leaving the rest to God.
Sri Agastheeswara Temple at Manakkal was among the  Temples around Thiruvarur visited last year. It was understood that the renovation work was started some five years back and got stuckup in the middle due to paucity of funds. Vimanams for the newly constructed shrines for Ganapathi and Subramanya had to be raised. The Villagers were on the look out for donors to complete the work but in vain. Our Sabha came forward with the help offered  by a Philanthropist to undertake the work and finish it by July end so that the consecration could be planned for September.

After procuring the building materials, the work was started on 15th July and the work in Ganapathi's Shrine is expected to be over by 20th. Vimanam for Subramanya will be constructed thereafter and completed by the month end. The above Philanthropist has kindly consented to paint the Temple in August and get it ready for the grand occasion which falls after a gap of over 80 years.

The visit to Alivalam,3 km from Thiruvarur had revealed that the renovation work remained unfinished. While the Sannadhis of Viswanatha and Visalakshi have been newly constructed, work on compound wall which is literally pulled down at many places by huge trees is yet to be taken up. The entrance itself is engulfed by a big tree which threatens the structure. It may be too late to retain the old entrance as the damage caused is beyond repair.

The legend says that The Lord is worshiped by Vishnu by making several rounds of the place. Hence the place was called as Ari (Hari) Valam and the name was wrongly mispelt as Alivalam later. A girl from Varanasi  married a Sivacharyar of this place and prayed Lord Viswanatha to  bless her as she was privileged to worship Him at Kasi. So the Lord at Alivalam was named as Viswanatha to the delight of the woman.

Sri Brahmapureeswara Temple at Enkann  near the famous Subramanya Temple of the place  is under ruins. Many Devakoshata murthis are missing due to lack of security. Said to be under the control of Archaeological Department, this ancient Temple needs to be protected immediately.
 Surrounded by paddy fields, the Temple becomes a haven for snakes.

 The caretaker of the Temple has many pet cats which practically live in the complex. He says that the cats are brave enough to challenge the snakes. The Temple has many visitors from outside with whose contribution the pujas for the swayanbu murthi and Ambal are arranged. People who come to Subramanya Temple should also pay a visit here and help in rebuilding the shrine The outer wall has fallen completely behind the sanctum and the other sides also pose a similar threat of falling at anytime. We do hope that people and the Government will take all steps to start the renovation work immediately to protect whatever is remaining.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dilapidated Temples near Aduthurai

It was time to visit  the dilapidated Temples near Kumbakonam. While a similar attempt was made last year, a totally ruined Shiva Temple at Mangudi drew our attention. The old members of the village were contacted to know how long the Temple remained in this condition. Even the oldest person who may be around eighty could not explain. We assumed that it was left in the pathetic condition for more than a century. Our efforts could save only the Sanctum,Vimanam and ardha  mandapam of Swami Sannadhi. Since the Shrine of the Goddess could not be saved, we had to rebuild the same over the old foundation which was made of granite.

 The plastering work is on and installation of images around the Vimanam is remaining. The plastering work of Swami Vimanam will be taken up next and the major work of laying the floor, erecting a  Mandapam infront of the Sanctum and constructing a wall along the boundary have to be undertaken thereafter. Orders will have to be placed for making new idols of Goddess, Ganapathi,Subramanya and Chandikeswara which are not there at present.

Among the dilapidated Temples covered during the recent visit, those around Kanjanur and Thugili deserve immediate attention. Kanjanur is not far away from Aduthurai, a very small town on Kumbakonam- Mayiladuthurai road. It is known as a "Paraihara sthalam" for Sukra. In fact,it should be attributed to Agneeswara , the Lord. Saint Appar has sung Thevaram on Him. This place is also well known as the birth place of Harathatha, the Great Shiva Baktha who proved the Greatness and "Parathvam" of Parameswara. It is in this village there exit two more Temples which are now in dilapidated condition.

The first Temple presented a sorry picture. The front Mandapam has cracks that need immediate repair. A Siva yogi's "adhishtaanam" is seen in the outer Prakaram. The shrine is built with bricks, on top of granite foundation. A statue of a King(?) with beard is seen with folded hands outside the sannadhi of Dhakshinamurthi. There appear to be no one to maintain the Temple. An old Lady was seen interested in explaining the visitors and seek assistance from them for performing Pujas.

The second Temple is close to the main road and the front portion of the Temple is hidden as it is partially taken over by a School. The vast land on the other side of the Temple may also face the same fate if it is not protected. The west facing Temple will bring tears to the devotees as many parts of the Temple have collapsed already and the remaining structure faces extinction at any time. There is abolutely nobody to bother about the Temple as it lacks proper gates to protect itself. No one was there to tell us the reason for neglect.

Thugili is another village nearby which is famous for weaving. The road from Thugili takes us to Thirulokki, sung in Thiruvisaippa of Karur Thevar(9th Thirumurai.) We come across another Temple on the way which is left with a Shiva Linga alone! All we can see is a high rise floor over which the Shiva Lingam is installed. The Lord is named as Sundareswara The Temple is surrounded by sugar cane fields and a Sugar factory. A canal runs at the entarnce of the Temple. Pin drop silence of the area is disturbed by the winds that make noise by dashing against tall trees surrounding the Temple.Two tall "Ilavam" trees were standing too close to the Deity.They were cut to make way for the sanctum . The only care taker of the Temple is an old man who stays inside the Temple despite the presence of snakes. However, he is not afraid of them as he believes that he will be protected by none other than the Lord Himself. Yes, he is fearless and prefers to be there inside the thatched shed. His only dream is to build a small Temple to house the Lord in the sanctum. Days roll over, but his dream is yet to come true. Anguish is written on his face. He waits for God's orders.