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, November 11, 2015

Temples of Pakkam Kottur and Panangattur Restored

Pakkam Kottur as seen in last year
It has always been a matter of concern when we look around and see the disinterest shown towards Historical monuments and Heritage structures. We turn our face shamelessly by not caring  for those priceless treasures left by our ancestors. The neglect is not caused overnight. In most of the cases, the damage has been done slowly over many centuries. As the Monarchy is no longer there, it is left to the Governments at the centre and states to take care of these cultural centres. We admit that there are some dedicated departments framed only to preserve the Heritage sites. The Archaeological Survey is managing many heritage sites but then the question is whether they are  protected well. Displaying blue boards and developing garden around the place alone is not enough. Good governance and follow up are extended only to those sites where people visit in large numbers. Other sites cry for adequate security
Pakkam Kottur in neglected state
The state Governments do have a ministry to look after the affairs of the Temples. Of late,it is fired by enthusiasts for neglecting ancient Temples which do not have income. The officers appointed for the administration of the temples seldom visit the places of poor income. It is therefore left to the locals and outsiders to  rebuild the dilapidated temples. As the cost of restoration has gone up,  the work gets postponed only to weaken the structure further.

Pakkam Kottur-Neglected state-Another view
With limitations soaring high, philanthropists need to face the challenges to restore the old glory.  We have been repeating the need to act instead of just visiting and publishing the pictures dilapidated structures. We need to mobilise support to act as fast as we can.  It is our experience that joint action of philanthropists and individuals have saved many Temples from ruin. We had been fortunate to participate in the reconstruction and renovation of ancient Temples without altering the  originality.
When we came across a Temple at Pakkam Kottur , a very small village some 20 km from Thiruvarur,we were shocked to find that the locals have practically given up the shine for several decades resulting into the collapse of granite structures in the front. As there was no compound wall, the vandals had freely entered and caused extensive damage to the sculptures that belong to Chola period. Chola inscriptions are still there on the walls.

It was a heart breaking scene to see the idol of the Goddess inside the sanctum in broken condition. The HR &CE department of the Govt of Tamilnadu should be held responsible for the neglect. If someone comes across to take up the renovation work the dept wants them to get permission. When the work  is on progress no officer of the department cares to see what is happening. But they are ready to dictate the date on which the Kumbabishekam can be performed.

Renovation in progress
The donors had to carry out the entire work on their shoulders without getting any support from the department which "runs" the Temple. The granite stones of the front mandapam were numbered and dismantled to remove deep rooted trees and aligned exactly as before based on the numbering done. Nataraja Sabha was also renovated on the same lines.

The renovated look
 The locals had arranged to get the new idols made through donors. Gates were provided for all Sannadhis to ensure security. The consecration was held on 8th November 2015 with the help of Philanthropists. But the Temple still lacks a compound wall around it and the locals are  on the look out for a donor who can complete the  unfinished job.

Panangattur- Then
Panangattur is another tiny village on the border of Tamilnadu with Karaikal. The Shiva Temple at this place was badly in need of donors who could renovate the ancient Temple. We joined the Holy cause by renovating the shrines of Swami, Ambal and building the compound wall with the support of the locals. The consecration was held recently and the Temple is under daily pujas.

Panangattur- Now
Sri Soundhareswarar Temple at Thurayur near Thirumarugal was one more Temple facing extinction. We were blessed to join the locals in rebuilding the shrine which needed urgent attention. The consecration of the Temple was held on 25.10.2015 to the delight of the villagers.
Thurayur- Work in progress 

We earnestly appeal to all like minded people to contribute their might to the Temples which are in negleted state. In the absence of regular income the Temples are in need of external support. We should not remain calm when the Heritage structures are lost one by one. It is high time to act fast and share the message among the like minded generous persons.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Documentation as tool of Post-Mortem Process?

A Temple with damage wall
What looked good in yesteryears may not necessarily hold good today. Even some time tested theories are undergoing revisions. There are occasions where we are driven to change our views. The concept, ' I am O.K. You are O.K' may be rewritten as ' I was O.K. Today I am not'  It simply means that we need to reshape the past ideologies to suit today's needs. It does not mean anything that results into the loss of ego. On the other hand the revised concept may be more beneficial not only to self but also to others.

When we talk about Heritage and Culture, the need for documentation became necessary to create awareness about our cultural values. We have read about Chola emperors who renovated the Temples built by their ancestors, used to restore the inscriptions . It showed the interest and care taken by them which is instrumental in knowing more about the past. Many inscriptions were documented during British rule and published. Similarly the masterly work of scholars like Neelakanda Sastri , Sadasiva Pandarathar and others help students of History even today.

With the advent of Technology, people started sharing pictures and other details of historical sites by publishing more books. The last decade witnessed the entry of information through various social media. It can not be denied that it did help people to educate themselves by sitting at Home. At the same time we must admit that the  information shared can also go to wrong hands.

There were times when people were prohibited from taking Photographs inside the Temples. It is still in practice at some places like Guruvayur. Let us not debate on how it can affect the sanctity. The more important issue is that Photography helps to speed up the screening process in which the anti socials are involved. I know pretty well that many people will disagree with the view, fearing that the prohibition can kill the interest of Art lovers.

Temples are different from Museums. Let us remember that the very purpose of our entry into a Temple is to worship the deities there. There is no doubt that we can also admire the handwork of the artisans. But there should be a clear demarcation between admiration and  devotion. We admire the sculptures of  horses with warriors , music pillars etc but the very moment we see an idol ,our hands fold unknowingly forgetting that as a piece of Art. It is the very purpose and essence of Idol worship. Once we step into the act of taking Photos and videos  of Main Deities for the purpose of sharing through social media ,  Devotion is lost instantly and we start describing the Murti as the unique piece of Art.
 Of late , some ' Art lovers' are found to post as many as 90 photos of the Temple they visited which includes the pictures of Main Deities. They publish it in social media to make others feel their presence. They bluntly react saying, ' You are telling me? Documentation is the only solution to solve the problem...'  This is where I differ with them. We are not against documentation. But what is the fun in sharing with everybody in the world when your treasures are open to high risk? Art lovers may maintain albums which may be useful in tracing the lost ones and help to identify them as strong evidence in the courts abroad. There have been instances when the idols vanished  soon after the pictures pertained to them were published in social media. If someone talk about the identity and security of antiques, let them answer why the well documented and much publicised Kohinoor Diamond and Tipu Sultan's sword are not returning to the Motherland. Yet we continue to loose our antiques miserably.

When we cry foul, we expect people to re look into the present procedures and try to introduce preventive measures. Museums across the world are exhibiting Indian antiques as their prize possessions in the name of gifts from art lovers. Does it not encourage the smugglers to make money out of it? How can the Museums call it legitimate when it is known pretty well that these antiques are stolen. Why don't they exhibit exemplary stand by denying to accept the property of other countries?  Don't they have the commitment to alert the Interpol and the concerned Governments about the thefts?

Before concluding we wish to  state that documentation can be used as a tool in the post mortem process. The question addressed to the Government is how is that these idols are allowed to get away through the customs? Are they not passing through the scanner when ordinary passengers are subjected to follow? It is a rude shock when we  see historic pieces  as high as six feet and more find place in the museums abroad. How can such a big one miss the attention of the customs authorities apart from skipping the eyes of check post personnel of the origin?  Let the Government take the primary responsibility and answer to the parliament and commit a date before which the lost one can be brought back.

What we believe most is the availability of a Preventive mechanism . Documentation can be a corrective action. Why at all we allow the theft to happen and do very little to counter the challenge before us . Let all art lovers,archaeologists and well wishers unite together under a common umbrella to sort out the problem. Let us not bother that our individuality is lost by doing so. It  will help shedding our ego when we unite for a common cause.

AF rebuilding a Temple wall
Ardhra Foundation always believes to practice before preaching something in the interest of the society. Building Compound walls , providing strong rooms to store idols in rural Temples are some of the initiatives of the foundation.For more details, one may visit our website,  As no single organisation can take up such a huge work in all Temples, we try to inspire people through blogs and direct interactions. At this stage we still lack a comprehensive mechanism to preserve our Heritage sites, the implementation of which is the immediate need of the hour. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Transformation at Karupur

Dilapidated state
It is unbelievable but true. The scene  we saw at Karupur a year back has transformed completely. The Supreme Lord, Garbapureeswara whose sanctum was the only shrine left behind as the sub shrines of the age old Temple had completely dilapidated. Even the eldest of the village could not say when the ruin had started. They assumed that this was the status for many centuries and nobody came forward to rebuild it. But the place continued to carry the historic name as Karupur in official records. It was known as Garbapuri as it granted the prayer of couples who prayed for a child. The Lord and the Goddess,Garba Prathambikai grant the wish even today. It is amazing to see such a powerful place  getting transformation during our lifetime.
Remains of Nandi Mandapam

We saw the Temple for the first time when Ardhra Foundation involved itself in building a shrine for the Goddess at Peravur,located about 2 km from Karupur. The sorry state of the totally crumbled structure of the Sanctum at Karupur had a severe impact on us. We felt that the Temple had to be restored at the earliest . Sharing the news through social media had little impact and it was disappointing to note people failing to extend even a verbal support. But the Grace of  God was the only source of strength to go ahead with the project with the liberal contribution from our Trust members. We knew the limitation of the villagers who relied only on agriculture . Since they could not take over a sizeable part of the renovation and consecration, AF took away the pressure from them and completed the project with the set target of conducting the consecration ceremony in the Tamil month of "Thai " which is the beginning of "Utharayanam " with the auspicious day in Suklapaksham.

Granite Foundation for Swami Sannadhi
It was originally thought to remove the tall trees rooted deep into the Swami vimanam. Once the work started,it was realised that the whole structure right from the foundation was too weak as it was  made of bricks. Reloading with fresh bricks was just impossible since the foundation could not withstand the load over it. Hence it was decided to take photographs of the old structure and rebuild on the same lines. Granite stones were used for laying the foundation. The entrance to both Swami and Devi Sannadhis were also provided with granite stones.

Swami and Devi Sannadhis
After carefully studying the old structure, vimanam was raised over the Sanctum. The next big task was to go for new idols of Ganapathi,Subramanya,Gabaprathambika, Nandi, Chandikeswara  as the same were not there. These idols were made  after careful selection of suitable granite stones and sent to Karupur. They were placed under grains for about a fortnight and also under water for the same period.

The Prakaram was cleaned well and the new Sannadhis for Ganapathi,Subramanya,Goddess, and Chandikeswara were built. But then the dire need of the hour was a compound wall.  Since there were no donors for the ambitious work that could cost very high, we were content to build a fence around the Temple complex.

Ardhra Foundation wishes to place on record the timely support extended by well wishers who arranged for Ashtabandhanam, flowers and Homam materials meant for Yagasalai.We sincerely thank them for the kind support rendered by them.

The holy water was brought from River Veera Chozhan , a tributary of Cauvery that flows nearby. It was kept in front of Sri Athitheswara Swami at Peravur ,2km from Karupur. Then it was brought to Karupur Temple and the priliminary Pujas like Ganapathi Homam,Navagraha Homam,Mruthsangraharanam began simultaneously. Yagasala Pravesam was followed by Kala Pujas in the evening.

Rituals as prescribed by Agamas were carried out for new idols ,by performing Pujas to the Holy Cow, Dhampathis, Veda Vith, Kanya,Brahmachari and Suvasini.

The new idols were installed in the respective places and Ashtabandhanam was applied for all Murthis.

People assembled to witness 4th Kala Puja and Poornahuthi on Sunday, 1st February in large numbers. Thiruvavaduthuai Mutt Thambiran Swamigal and Komal Sri Sekar graced the occasion. Gatams were taken in a procession and reached the top of the Vimanams. The crowd was thrilled to see Garuda making circles around the Temple at the Time of Consecration. The Holy water was poured over the Kalasams of all vimanams and sprinkled on the devotees. It was followed by Mahabhishekam at all Sannadhis.

Good arrangements were made during the occasion and AF thanks all those who worked together to receive the blessings of Sri Garbapureeswara Swami and Sri Garbapradhambika Devi. May The Divine couple shower their blessings to all. It was indeed a great satisfaction not only to Ardhra Foundation but to the villagers of Karupur as well.