Vishnu Temple at Kallidaikurichi – Reach Foundation: Conserve our Rich Heritage!!
After almost a year, Tirunelveli beckoned us; this time, to visit some heritage sites in Alwarkurichi, Papanasam, Keelpathai and other smaller temples for three days. Our PRO Chandrasekaran and member Priya Baskaran visited the site along with the locals, who helped us see many Nadugal, inscriptions, temples all awaiting some good Samaritan, restorer. The Vishnu temple close to the Kallidaikurichi Railway station was mentioned to us by one Mr. Suresh from Bangalore for which he was ready to bring in funds for restoration. Thanks to his persistent efforts, this Tirunelveli trip was planned. The temple is a huge one, with fallen granite walls and some inscriptions. Having some late 13th century inscriptions the temple is bereft of the idols which were stolen away. The locals have tried restoration using cement for resurrecting the sanctum, but in haste. Mr. Suresh’s local sthapathi has agreed to send us his restoration report and estimation, which we would see and then decide. Member Chandru’s mother and grandmother greeted us for a night stay and some sumptuous food, in Kallidaikurichi.
The Shiva temple in Kallidaikurichi is fully encroached on its periphery. The walls all fallen off due to heavy vegetation, contains rich epigraphs which are clearly indicating the age of the temple to be atleast 800 years old. This is an ideal small temple which can be used as a model temple for restoration explaining both stone and lime mortar work while doing so.
The Alwarkurichi Agneeswarar @ Thiruvalleeswaramudiya Thambiranar temple story forms this month’s cover story. Some instant solutions and fixit type roofing have made the temple become more fragile than ever, and this needs huge funding and detailed planning and restoration.
At the entrance of the Alwarkurichi village, one can see a beautiful pond and a small Ganesha Temple on its banks, whose stucco figures attracts the keen icon lover. Small but elegant, the stuccos are beautiful. Surprisingly, small heritage murals were adorning the walls of this small temple too!
Anandaraj and his friends Kudumban, Jesuraj are heritage enthusiasts from farming families. They took us to Keel Pathai village for estimating the renovation of their Kulasekaranathar Shiva temple! e remembered then that Dr. Thanumurthy of the same village from the Agraharam, had taken estimates from us some 2 years ago and was yet to respond back with the action plan. The stones which have settled and widened can be put back in shape. Weather coarse needs to be re-done. The labour quotient being so high, the local farming community members in unison agreed to bear the labour costs, except for REACH sending a qualified sthapathi for stone resetting and lime work preparation. This would surely bring the costs down. Happy with their suggestion, REACH would soon plan the restoration.
A real surprise was in store when we veered back from Keelpathai, while crossing the Karuvelankulam Village. The Gomati Amman sametha Soundara Pandeeswarar Koil attracted us inside. A beautifully carved wooden chariot, some paintings de’ extraordinaire and some unknown inscriptions greeted us.
The Chera kings, Pandya as well as late Chola Kings have patronized this temple.