Thandurai Shiva temple restoration in full swing
The Swarna Kalikambal sametha Ratnagarbeswarar Shiva temple alias Kunteeswarar Temple at Thandurai (now called as Thandarai) 10 kms off the Uttaramerur – Vandavasi road, was saved by rampant demolition, thanks to the alert Taxi driver Shri S Natarajan our REACH member. The Perumal temple adjacent to this Shiva Temple was pulled down due to ignorance of the facts that 1) Any heritage temple beyond 100 years if altered or broken down without the knowledge of archaeological department would attract punishment and 2) Absolute poor knowledge on heritage temples’ renovation techniques. The picture below shows the old photo of the Vishnu Temple which we pulled out from old records and the stark modern tiled mega bathroom like renovated (?) temple stands today which reminds us the sad plight of many such temples today. Huge money spent and the donor still running around for donations to waive off his loans, stones and inscriptions of the old temple have been pulled down and are lying around the new construction even today! The dwajasthamba with the king with folded hands is lying aside. Is he pleading mercy?
Now that the Shiva temple came to our notice, we sprung to action by submitting a letter to the HR&CE department to renovate it on our own funds. The vegetation had gone deep on either side of the junction between the Arda Mandapa and Maha Mandapa. The weather coarse above which had been re-laid a century ago, had been too heavy to withstand, hence the dilapidation. The weather coarse turned out to be almost a metre, which was broken down. Tree killers were applied to kill the vegetation and uproot the charred roots away. The stones were removed and re-laid carefully. Lime mortar has reached the site and will be used for the roof and weathering soon.
Azathurai just some 5 kms beyond Thandurai also has an ancient Shiva temple built some 400 years agao by some local community. The temple is almost in the verge of complete collapse, saving prides are the sculptures lying around intact. Dr T Satyamurthy, REACh Founder inspected the site and instructed the villagers the procedures they should follow to pursue with the HR&CE.
And while coming back from Thandurai and Azathurai, we crossed the open yard where the yearly Duryodana Vadam festival happens at Uttaramerur. A rare festival still in practice, is celebrated with local folk artists performing the killing of Duryodana with fanfare and all throwing around stones on the ‘defeated’ Duryodana to mark the end of the killing!