Kalakkad & Pathai

Kalakkad & Pathai – Reach Foundation: Conserve our Rich Heritage!!

Pathai and Kalakkad visit

Post-Symposium, we were worried about the poor response from the Tirunelvelians, who pride themselves about their soil. Dr. Thanumurthy living now in Mumbai, hails from a typical hamlet, Pathai, near Sermadevi enroute to Kalakkad, where we have seen the murals before, on the inner walls of each tier of the temple Gopuram.

There is one Kulasekaranathar temple in Tenkasi wherein the walls were sand blasted and member Poornima and her father Mahadevan raised hue and cry to stop that, but they failed stopping the Giovernment machinery – no pun intended, it is the sand blasting machine ;) But they became our active members and inform us about happenings in Tirunelveli district.
Now, when Dr.Thanumurthy called us for inspecting the Kulasekaranathar temple in his village Pathai, the right opportunity came on 14th and 15th of October, 2011, to visit this Kulasekaranathar!
On inspection, we found the weather coarse totally fragmented, stones at corners and walls fallen apart, mostly white washed with lime. The Vimanas were quite good. An estimate has been worked out with help of our friend civil Engineering entrepreneur member Shri. Durai from Thoothukudi and has been sent to Dr. Thanumurthy. The village ponds were dry and villagers claimed that the rains failed them.The day we went, the hamlet kissed the first rush of rain from heaven! Blessed we were and the village, thanks to Kulasekaranathar, as the rains were a good sign for things to come. The local Uzavarappani team had done their best to maintain the temple and they were very helpful in assisting us during the inspection.
From there we tread to Kalakkad, to see the recently finished Gopuram and inspect the murals. The villagers had claimed to maintain the same as they were, and said REACH will be allowed to restore the mural paintings. We have informed them an estimate to restore the paintings. When we visited, we were told that the Sudaii Bommais were falling off from the Gopuram, due to monkeys’ menace; the reason was something else. The quality of Sudai bommais were inferior and plaster of paris had been used liberally to finish off (!) the work! Why blame the monkeys, as we had indeed encroachedtheir territory? The Kalakkad Mundandurai Tiger reserve forest is just behind this temple. We were asked by our member SS Mani, to give an estimate to renovate the Murugan Shrine within the temple premises, but there was not much problems, except some polished tiles were laid in front of the shrine. We said the tiles may be removed if possible. Apart from that we observed many inner vimanams and gopurams were plastered with cement and the tell tale signs of overburdened pillars cracking were oblivious signs of fatigue, which needs to be attended too. Sand blasting had cleaned off many intricate carvings of most of the sculptures in the pillars, but the recent renovation committee claimed that sand blasting was done during the earlier Kumbabhishekam!Worst part, many murals which had bulged and cracked, had been filled with lime mortar by some generous sthapathi! Leave alone this pathetic way of filling the murals, he had also patched the flooring with the paintings in many places along the corridors where the murals were available within the temple Gopuram.Is it ignorance or negligence? Only the incumbent Lord Sathyavaheeswara knows! We had offered our services for photo documentation and proper restoration to the village temple committee and are awaiting their answers.

The photos here are self explanatory!

The surprise part of this tour came somewhere else, and those spots were Pappankulam and Sermadevi. Let’s see in the next blog these surprises!