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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Opposition to ASI taking over Thirukadanmallai temple at Mahabalipuram

We care for our Sampradhayam and it is our duty to do ‘nithyanushtana karmas’ and take care of our heritages.  Divyadesams are beautiful places reverred by our Great Azhwaars and the divyadesam of Maamallapuram (Kadanmallai Thalasayanam) has added significance, being the birth place of azhwaar – Boothath Azhwaar.    In this divyadesam,  Perumal is in a reclining posture, slightly different from other sthalams.    It is not on  ‘Aadi Sesha’ – but on the ground itself – giving the name ‘Sthalasayana Perumal”. 

When I read an announcement  proclaiming the Notification of the  Archaeological Survey of India, pertaining to protection of Sri Sthalasayanaperumal Temple, Mamallapuram, District Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu it caused jitters in me.  The Notification of 13th Jan 2004 : S.O. 79(E) states that Central Govt is of the opinion that the ancient monument, Sthalasayana Perumal Temple is of national importance and in exercise of the powers conferred by the Ancient Monuments & Archaeological Sites & Remains Act 1958, the Central Govt gives notice of its intention to declare the said ancient monument to be of national importance.

I apprehended that once and when the Temple comes within the control of  Archaeological Survey of India, it would become more of a monumental place rather than the Temple of worship.   The fears were confounded by the statement that  once any place becomes a protected monument under the Act, the place shall not be used for any purpose inconsistent with its character.    Where a part is still used for religious worship, the Collector is to make due provisions for protection from pollution or desecration.  The Act also forbades that the monuments should not be used for the purposes of holding any meeting, reception conference or entertainment – ‘these should not in any way stop congregation of devotees and temple related activities – is what our concern is’.   Once the Temple is under control of authorities who either do not care to understand or have least regards for ‘agamas / sasthras / sampradhayams / religious procedures’ , it becomes all too difficult to continue with the time-honoured traditions that have been in vogue.  Read my earlier post at :

Today, there is a report in Times of India of the local residents opposing ASI taking over of the temple.    Here is the report, please read on. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Fear Ban On Constructions If Mamallapuram Structure Is Declared A Monument 

Chennai: One would expect residents of a town to take pride in ancient structures in their locality being declared as monuments of national importance.That is not the case of the 14century Sthalasayana Perumal Temple in Mamallapuram.  Sensing that the declaration of the temple as a monument of national importance would mean stringent curbs and even complete ban on construction of new buildings or repair of existing ancestral structures in Mamallapuram, residents have been flooding the Archaeological Survey of Indias sub-office in Mamallapuram and Circle office at Fort St George in Chennai with petitions against the move.

Mamallapuram,lying some 60 km from Chennai,on the East Coast Road (ECR) is already a World Heritage Site,  and new buildings are not easy to construct.As per the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Amendment Act,2010,no construction or repair work is allowed within 100 metres of the monument as it is a prohibited area.Within 200 metres of the regulated area, repair or alteration of buildings can be done only with the approval of the National Monuments Authority (NMA).

The ASI maintains 32 monuments in Mamallapuram,including Arjunas Penance,Shore Temple,Five Rathas and Tiger Cave.But this ancient Perumal temple was never under the ASI,as it was being maintained by the state governments Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department since Independence.  On May 20,the ASI issued a public notice inviting objections, if any, on the union governments intention to declare the ancient temple as a monument of national importance under Section 4 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act,1958.As the temple is rich in architectural excellence of the Pallavas and also located within the world heritage site,we want to declare it as a monument of national importance.Objections can be given in writing within two months from the date of the notice, said an ASI official.

The public mood against the Centres proposal was reflected when the Mamallapuram town panchayat,in its monthly council meeting in May, passed a resolution against the proposed take over of the temple by the ASI. Almost entire town is already reeling under a complete ban on constructions and repairs. Taking over the temple will enable the ASI to bring the entire town under its fold. We oppose it, said M Devandran, chairman, Mamallapuram town panchayat.

At present,Tamil Nadu has five world heritage sites,including the Brahadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur and Mamallapuram.


  1. Your fears are not unfounded. Heritage label is a liability for living temples with continued worship by Vaishnava Adiyargal. Thiru Kadalmallai is a temple where utsavangal are being held regularly. If it goes under ASI control, even to put a pandhalkaal for a short festival, make small modifications like let us say, improve the madapalli etc becomes impossible. After takeover it is only a maintenance phase. There is no room for development.

    Perumal and Nila Mangai Thayar deserve better, rather than staying put in a stale fashion.

    Look at the state of affairs in shore temple (which also has a palli konda perumal and probably is the original Sthala sayanar), also the Parameswara Vinnagaram. These are fossilised.

    I can understand ASI motive to take over if the temple is in ruins or crumbling. This temple is quite well maintained and run. So we should protest the taking over.

    From the link Sh Srinivasan has provided. , we need to issue our protest letter to the officials in the link. ( Chennai sub circle and Mahapalipuram circle) Archaeological Survey of India.

    a) Shri Shaik Jilani Basha
    Senior Conservation Assistant
    Chennai Sub-Circle
    Fort St.George, Chennai-600009
    044 25671596
    E mail:

    b)Shri P Vasudevan
    Senior Conservation Assistant
    Archaeological Survey of India
    Mamallapuram Sub-Circle
    Mamallapuram – 603 104
    Kanchipuram District
    044 27442226
    E mail:

    c)Smt. Sathyabhama Badhreenath
    Superintending Archaeologist