Visits – Kongu Nadu, Srirengam, and Thiruvannamalai – Reach Foundation: Conserve our Rich Heritage!!
In fag end of the year, members from Salem Pons, Senthilraja, Danasekaran and Yuvaraj, Srikumar invited us to visit few heritage sites in Kolli hills, Salem and around Erode. Many unknown sites and uncared tomb stone and temples, need another separate Yaali for the stories to be written. We had also opportunity to visit certain Parampara Gurumars, who are still the Kula Guru for certain communities in and around these areas and are revered high in all decision making process of the said communities. The houses or Mutts which housed the families of the Kula Guru needed some restoration and repairs. REACH plans to train some locals there to repair those houses.
We also visited and had a meeting with the Irugur Temple authorities and it was decided that by January 2013 mid-week, the committee will start on the renovation process under the guidance of REACH team. The nearby Vishnu temple was also visited and the villagers were happy to know that traditional methodology was still available for restoring the temple and they await the REACH technical team to do the estimation for renovation of their temple too.
Some interesting Jain sites were also visited. It is true that many heritage sites in this region are yet to be documented or explored and taken to the outer world. It is pertinent to mention here, that these young members are also organic and native technology promoting ambassadors that they use only cow urine and cow dung sourced products for making all their daily use! Heritage, this too, we call?
In January something interesting turned up. Shall we call it as the MURALS RESTORATION MONTH?
Dr Satyamurthy along with murals expert Shri. Veeraraghavan visited the famous Srirengam temple to study the status of the murals in the temple and we did an exhaustive study of the same and a report of submitted to the HR & CE Joint Commissioner Smt. S. Kalyani
Also we happened to see the 5 Granaries in a row near the Madapalli store house which was in dilapidated condition. The department has also requested REACh to supervise the work of restoration of the same.
Next, we were called by the authorities of THIRUVANNAMALAI temple to also inspect the murals inside the Kalyana Mandapam. Senior Chemist Smt. Srilatha Rao from ASI volunteered to come along with us and to our surprise we found some old murals totally over painted with a new set of theme and paint all around! When the authorities were enquired, they informed that these were done during the last Kumbabhishekam in 1950s and it was news to them too. The roof and the weather coarse above the Kalyana Mandapam were overdone almost three times which had caused seepage on the walls and into the Mandapam, those playing havoc on the murals. We did clean a sample panel to expose the real original murals beneath. We had already submitted our recommendations and estimate to the Joint Commissioner of Thiruvannamalai temple, Shri. A.T. Paranjothi who promised that very soon they would initiate the process of restoring these murals and correcting the roofing.
Visit to Kalathur one of the ancient most villages in Kanchipuram revealed the most beautiful Shiva temple in the region with some stunning icons and rare inscriptions. Shri. Om Nagarajan now working in a petroleum company along with our executive committee member Shri. Rajappa accompanied along with us to show the detoriation in and around the temple. We had an opportunity to study the same and have submitted an estimate along with a plan to them. The HR&CE is ready to sanction funds through the 13th commission plan for restoration of heritage temples. Also, we got access to some rare palm leaves manuscript held by Shri. Om Nagarajan’s uncle, which we have taken in our custody to clean and digitize through our educational wing AASAI and return the palm leaves to the original owner.
We visited Kalathur another village near Maduranthanthakam, along with Shri ‘Koil’ Ramamurthy of Vadapalani, Dr T.Satyamurthy, our epigraphy expert Shri. Ramachandran and historian Shri. Varadarajan. A Chola period temple with some good sculptures and the basement intact were found. While digging around the plinth, near the Pranala, Dr Satyamurthy suggested that we may get a Stone pitcher, and to our surprise the stone bowl or pitcher was excavated! HE explained that Abhiseka had to be done as prescribed in the Sastras and just not pour too much of water and milk on Shivalinga. This Shiva in Deiva Prasnam turned out to be the one worshipped by Agneya Rishi, son of Agni.
Kumbhabhishekams of the temples which REACH restored:
The Thandurai Shiva temple was quickly renovated and the Kumbabhishekam conducted with a short notice to REACH who had done all work throughout helping the Taxi driver Shri. Natarajan who immersed in this great effort.
The much awaited Kumbabhishekam of Uttaramerur Kailasanathar temple and that of Vepenjeri Vasthudevapathi Damodara Perumal and Parameswari Mangalam Kailasanathar temples were held during January 2013. The MLA of Uttaramerur was kind enough to open the frontage of the Kailasanathar temple which now looks elegant and has given a visual treat to the aesthetics of the whole temple!
In Vasthudevapathi Damodara Perumal temple the Garbhagruha and Arda Mandapa were done by us but the front Mandapa had been done with Modern materials by Shri Mahalakshmi trust. We fail to understand that when the stone pillars and lintels were very much available why they discarded them and added such a ugly looking Mandapa and some extra shrines which are money spinners? It is time that a stringent rule from the Ministry of culture and heritage is made to restrict donors doing restoration at their own will.
The Kailasanathar temple of Parameswari Mangalam which also saw the Kumbabhishekam the same day was done excellently well by one single man’s stringent and arduous effort! Shri. Ravikumar the Engineering entrepreneur had done all the work, including construction of the bridge linking the temple and the land nearby.