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Friday, January 8, 2010

Beautiful places of Worship and Sordid state in some ancient Temples - who is to blame ??

For a devout Hindu going to temple is of utmost importance. Idol worship (Archai) is worshipping the Lord in idol form. For Vaishnavaites, archavatharam is the form where Lord comes near the baktha. Temples are part of our tradition and culture intertwined in very many ways.  Those worship Shiva are called shaivaites. The Lord of destruction is symbolized in many places by lingam. Shiva is known by many names and titles – some of which are Rudra (God of anger), Kailasapathi, Iswarar, Pasupathinathar, Umapathi, Parvathipathi, Gangadhar, Jatadhari, Siddheswarar, Trisuladhari, Dakshinamurthi and so on.

There are many ancient temples dedicated to Shiva – just like devout Vaishnavaites consider 108 Divya Desams sung by Azhwars as Very important – there are temples which are sung by Nayanmars. Nayanmars were devotional poets who lived in the ear of 5th and 10th centuries. Periya Puranam is attributed to 13th century. These devotees of Shiva are from varied backgrounds, ranging from Kings and soliders. Foremost amongst are Appar, Sundarar, and Thirunavukkarasar. Pilgrimage to holy places housing temples are integral part of Hinduism, considered very sacred and held in high esteem by devotees who have mythological significance to these places. Standing before the Lord with folded hands is the pinnacle act of hindu worship. Though there are thousands of temples, there are places which are legendary. . Notable of these are 275 Siva Sthalams, of whom Nayanmars have compiled Hymns – the Pathigams. These are spread all over India – some of which are highly revered as thevaram padal petra sthalams. Many of these are in pristine glory carved in solid rock, huge, elaborately sculptured towers, all ornamented with delicate decorative work. The exteriors and interiors have beautifully sculpted or painted figures of Gods, people, animals and plants. Some have huge corridors, mandapas leading to Garbhagraha (sanctum sanctorum) housing the prime Lord.

This article is no attempt in bringing out the glory of Lord, Nayanmars, or the temples but what I noticed in one of my visits to various temples. I have a great friend ASN Arya who is a very strident devotee of Lord Shiva who has also visited no. of Vaishnavaite temples.

Lot of new temples are springing up in every colony, many corners but sadly there are some temples of historic and religious preeminence which stand neglected with the passage of time.

In one of our sojourns, we visited a famous siva sthalam located near Kattumannargudi, the birth place of Acharyan Alavandar, closer to veeranam lake. The lake itself had derived its name from Veeranarayanapuram – the name of the God of Kattunamannargudi.
the veeranam lake  

Tamilians would certainly know the famous ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ of Kalki which dealt with the fortunes of chola empire during the 10th century. One of the secondary characters, Kanda Maran was depicted as the prince of Kadambur. This Kadambur is a sacred shivasthalam – one amongst the 275 glorified ones with Thevaram hymn mentioned. This kshetram is also mentioned in kshetra kovai.

With the passage of time, certain places lose their sheen and glory whilst a few others attain importance. Two temples are there situate within a stone’s throw from each other.

1)     Shri Amirtha Kadeswarar Thiru koil, Mela Kadambur.  :  This sthalam is a 'veritable art gallery of 12th century art and a unique graceful monument of art – situate at 5 km off Kattumannargudi, a city founded by Parantaka Cholan I (1075-1120) and named Veeranarayanapuram after him.

Quite a big temple covering an area of about 3.4 acres; the main temple is chariot shaped with wheels and horses. The vimanam is known as Indra Vimanam. The presiding deity is Amritaghateswarar and the ambal Jyotiminnammai.  Sambandar and Appar composed pathigams on this temple. Legend has it that Indra is said to have worshipped Siva here to obtain the celestial nectar Amritam and the temple is also known as Karakkovil. This temple is built in the shape of a chariot on wheels, two on each side, drawn by caprisoned horses in a prancing posture, depicting a heavenly chariot having come down to the earth with Siva as its occupant. There are also series of sculptures of the rishis and the Gods who are believed to have worshipped Siva here, and interestingly there are labels in 12th century Tamil and in Grantha characters giving the names of each of these figures. Sivaratri is celebrated here on a grand scale.

Two inscriptions engraved on the walls of the temple belonging to the 41st and the 43rd year of the reign of the Chola king Kulottunga I (1070-1120) indicate the temple existed in this form by the early 12th century ; the hymns of Thevaram indicate that it was renowned sacred place by 7th century itself.

There is the famous Dasabhuja Rishaba Thandavamoorthy but due to security reasons, understand that this idol is not kept inside the temple but brought for worship of devotees on every pradosham day.

2) Kizha Kadambur – Rudrapathi Temple.

Sadly this temple is in ruins and in a most dilapidated state. A name board proclaims that Department of Archaelogy which protects 85 monuments spread all over the state is taking care ! of this temple.

           It is quite unfortunate that places which had pristine glory have lost their veritable importance, are in dilapidated condition needing conservation.

In a land where every temple and place of worship draw huge crowds on holidays and important festival occasions, there are places like these which remain uncared for. It looked too obvious that nobody visits and no daily poojas are being performed.

It really pained to see the temple lying shattered in ruins. It is the duty of bakthas to do something for these old temples, renovate and rebuild them and ensure that there is somebody who does daily pooja and takes care of the temple. For making this happen, certainly money is required and those taking care of temple needs to be taken care of.

These photos of this temple will make every austere person melancholic. Can we think of doing something to this and many other temples is a poser which every devout person need to address !!!!

Regards – S Sampathkumar.


  1. A solution to this could be for a group of individuals to form a voluntary organization to approach corporates to take up and nurture these temples. The voluntary organization could coordinate and monitor the restoration. To kickstart this the organization I propose should make a presentation of such temples with facts and figures and see whether we can fix up meetings with corporates and push through.

  2. I think corporatising temple maintenance and giving that to infrastructure companies could be a good idea to save these invaluable heritages of the country.

    Exhibition matches and star nights, annually, can be organized to raise funds for maintaining these temples.

  3. Dear

    There is lot into this. On one side, most temples either do not have revenue or those utilising the temple property are not paying back. The other side (atleast in Tamilnadu) there are temples where devotees pour riches but these filling the coffecrs are not utilised even for repairs and maintenance but only goes to Govt., Officers, schemes even denouncing hinduism and the primacy of God.

  4. Established transportation infrasctructure for a
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