Tuesday, April 18, 2006
More Photos from Pazhaverkadu temple
Deep Routed roots making a sandwich between walls of the amma shrine
Monkey act in the pillar carved intricately!!
Front Mandapam crowned by trees
The alwars in a row inside the inner mandapam in their basking glory after an oil bath taken after ages!!
Pazhaverkadu Adi Narayana - Vishnu temple
On 16th April,2006, we went for the Adi Narayanaswamy Vishnu temple .
Pazharverkadu was also known as Pralaya Kaveri and Mallapatnam as per the 16th century Telugu stone inscription found above the entrance of the Goddess shrine. This temple has been built by a Telugu man called Balavandakulu.
The entrance is striking and even though the gopuram is missing, the main entrance with the walls on either side looks like an entrance of a fort!
This is a mini-Angorvat! In all sense, because
• the temple is ancient, Vishnu temple
• has intricately carved Ramayana on its roof cross beams, close to the ceilings, having figures not taller than 8 inches and
• has roots of trees penetrating all around the temple, as if a big Asura is usurping the temple for his great hunger!! The roots of arasa trees have played havoc with this temple. The roots have gone deep into the vidanam and are almost uprooting the stone ceilings and are making the pillars fall apart. It is high time the temple should be taken up for restoration by the ASI, as,
The most striking feature and may be the first of its kind seen in Tamilnadu is that the whole temple is built using Laterite only!
The roofs are made up of stone.The Vimanam are mixture of limestone and bricks
We were fortunate to have Mr.T.Satyamurthy, ex-Superintendent Archaeologist with us, for this trip. He has formed a new foundation by the name R.E.A.C.H (Rural Education And Cultural Heritage Foundation) having our members as a part of the forming committee.
This Laterite stone is normally found only in coastal Malabar, Goa etc. More details on the stone, the other famous heritage monuments built on Laterite can be seen in the URL:-
This temple, which is on the verge of collapse, is located next to a mosque. Is it otherwise? Because the walls of the old temple was similar and running further to cover the mosque too. May be half the temple land now is a mosque! Curiosity killed us, so we peeped into the mosque and were shocked to find that the stone pillars in the mosque were strikingly similar to those in the temple, except that those were green-washed (not white washed?).
The fact that children are totally clueless and innocent about religions became true.
During identification trip, it was a Muslim boy who led us correctly to the temple. Now, when we surged ahead for the cleaning operation, it was two boys Ahmad and Rafiq who offered themselves to dust off the idols of Alwars, Acharyas, Ram,Lakshman and Sita. The Rama idol is broken, and the bow and arrow are missing. There was once a separate sannidhi for Rama to the right of the main sannidhi, which has now collapsed.
These two Muslim buys carried water in plastic pots which were almost equal to their own weight! Their interest in work and dedication could not be seen among the senior villagers, who gathered inside the temple, in the second half of the cleaning operation. Atleast fifty people gathered and only fifteen men got into the act of cutting down the trees that were seen encompassing the temple.
First comes a small mandap with the garuda facing the main shrine.
The mandap leading us to the temple has beautiful carvings of dancers and the dasavatara. On one of the pillars was a carving of a monkey eating a jackfruit and above it a carving of 4 monkeys juxtaposed, which when seen with part-hidden, looks like a single monkey.
Similarly there were many carvings like a mermaid, man-beast, man with several head etc, which seems like as if the sculptor had carved out evolution itself on these pillars!
The deity was Adi Narayana Perumal, flanked by Sridevi and Bhoodevi. The utsavars had been removed to a newly built Varadaraja temple for safety reasons. The Lord in this temple is seen in a standing posture, with the sankhu and chakra in his upper hands.
His lower right hand is Abhaya hasta and the lower left hand rests on His thigh; he is flanked by Sridevi and Bhoodevi.
Outside the sannidhi is a small but beautiful idol, whose lower right hand is Varada hasta and whose lower left hand rests on the thigh. He too is flanked by Sreedevi and Bhoodevi.
The Amman shrine and Andal Shrine are seperate on either side of the main mandap and Vimanam. We had to cut the trees to find out whether these two mandaps really exist!
The bali peetam itself is a beautifully carved structure, with steps leading to the top of the bali peetam from all four sides.
The members dusted off and oiled all the idols. New vastrams and saris were bedecked on the moolavar, and sweet pongal, other ritualistic offerings were made and an elaborate Pooja was made by our member. An archaka cam running hearing the sounds of men inside the temple, and later took over the poojas. He was happy that his Perumal was getting a royal treatment which was long due, but bemoaned that due to the apathy shown to this temple by Government and local public.
It seems that the temple was popular with the villagers and till 1988 a priest used to come from Ponneri and Laksharchnais, Navaratri puja and other pujas were conducted regularly. The last samprokshanam was in 1979.
The temple is rich in heritage and artistic value, but lacks care and maintenance. It has only two acres of land in Thaangalperumpalam, a village that is a few miles away but its produce is insufficient for the maintenance of the temple.
Pazhaverkadu is also home to an ancient Shiva temple whose deity is called as Samaiya Eswaraswamy and Anandavalli, which is maintained (???) and adopted by the Government's Hindu Religious & Charities Endowment Trust. This is also in ruins, but is some what restorable.
There is a Subramania swamy temple which is some 150 years old built by some chettiars in nearby area, and also a 10th century Chola period temple is located in the nearby “Koviladi” island.
Many people including those from THE HINDU Magazine in 2004 and years before, the members of ASI, have recorded the condition of this temple and have sought immediate attention from the centre. It seems people in position have lost their senses!!
A Dutch fort ruins, some Christian and Muslim monuments, a bird sanctuary and a boating strip seen around this historical land, makes this spot ideal for a tourist outing and it is a surprise, why the Government is not showing any interest on this!?
Late in the evening, we spoke to the gathering and insisted that the villagers should call us, only after cleaning the surrounding to their best abilities, spruce up the place. Then, REACH would surely take up further renovation work.
In near future we would plan on how to approach HREC, ASI and /or other organizations, which can adopt this temple for renovation.
A special thanks to Ramakrishna mutt, and their member Mr. Kanakaraj, for providing us food and vehicle for this trip. In fact, the members felt at home in the small study centre run in Pazhaverkadu, by Ramakrishna mutt. The students, both boys and girls are taught formal education as well as about Hindu ideologies. Many have become graduates and are employed well and more are seeking employment after their graduation. The mutt runs a computer centre and also a self help group which makes hand made mats using eco-friendly materials. The mats were too good and many members bought them out instantly. A Muslim girl, wearing full gown, caught our attention. Members were wondering what she has to do in a Hindu Ashram?
This girl, whom the inmates nicknamed as Pazhaverkadu Niveditha stays for the whole day till she is forced to go back home, in the centre and serves everyone with brisk action and a permanent smile. All revere her with respect and pride! Indeed another instance of communal harmony!
While returning on the way, we visited the ancient Palaivana Nadhar temple, well maintained by the HR&CE Department, but as usual,it was so foolish of them that they had white washed all the stone inscriptions seen in abundance in and around the temple. The sthalapuranam is available in the temple itself.
Last but least, our special thanks also to Mr. G.Saminathan, an ASI member, who on the request of our advisor and Author of our newly formed R.E.A.C.H Foundation and Chief of ASI, Mr.Sathyamurthy, for giving us the details of history and stone scriptures from an old article written by their ASI staff, Mr.S.Krishnamurthy.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Venkaadu the final trip?
The two days activities at vengadu involved unearthing all the pillars and stones with the help of JCB.
Saturday activity started after the old man of the village offered pooja to the lingam. According to him, he has seen the temple with a mandapam on the southern side. Even during his yester years, people were hesitant to go inside the temple due to those thorny trees that housed lots of snakes. Also he said per his ancestors there are some copper plates beneath the lingam which describes the history and other facts about the temple.Couple of centuries back the temple should have been in glory with a chariot and the villagers adoring the god. The bells belonging to the chariot were supposedly still found in the other bigger lake of the village.The poor economic conditions of the gurukala and temple trustees drove them out of the village, who sold their lands to some reddiars and went to other places for living. Looks like from then on, nobody cared about the temple.
Thats a piece of history as heard from the old man. Coming back to the activity, it all started with uprooting the trees outside the pragaram on the southern side. Since the mandapam had been on the southern side, concentration of the debris were also more on the same side.JCB then started unearthing all the pillars from that side.The pillars that were unearthed were then placed outside the outer pragaram. By the fag end of the day we did manage to clear a lot of those stones and also tried to dig almost for a feet/two near the wall of the temple, just in case to check if there are any inscriptions.Unfortunately we couldn't find any.
Day 2 :-
To our surprise there were two JCB's and so with one we managed to clean the other parts of the temple while the other one removed the fallen stones from the mandapam. The garbha graham as you can see from the pic is pretty small to be cleaned using the machine and so was cleaned manually.
Since Prabhakar and I had some work we couldn't stay for the full day on sunday.
I have attached some of the pics that show the temple and its state as on sunday afternoon with Chandru taking care of the proceedings from then on.
He should be able to provide the other details about the activities.
I do hope that the cleaning was completed by the end of that day.
Further to what Srivatsan reported above, Chandru reproted as:-
The findings and the level of work tobe done furhter is not a day's job, rather a month's task. Another old man reported to Chandru, that there had been 4 Shivalingas here once upon a time, but those were robbed off by plunderers.
So, we decided to call it a day and inform Dr.Subramanian of LDSF to call ASI and have proper security posted in this site, as this project turned out to be too big for our level of membership and strength.
We had informed ex-Superidendent Dr.Satyamurthy on this.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Report on 26th March 2006 visit. Part II
Mr.Ramamurthy immediately got into act, to give the lingam a bath may be after centuries, and the men who came running around on seeing some new faces, offered a plastic pot with water, drawn from the lotus pond. Lo! Went ahead the Abhishekam, and to our heart breaking sight, the water almost evaporated instantly, on touching the shiva lingam!! So hot, it had been and was as if it asked for more. The two villagers, Kumar and Ezhumalai, said they made Abhishekam during the full moon days and offer Prasadam to the lingam. Mr. Ramamurthy insisted that they are gifted and are destined to do that daily, for which the villagers willingly agreed.
Murali a Vaishnavaite priest in the near by Vishnu temple informed even though the Vishnu temple comes under Government endowment, the Siva temple is not. But he was also willing to do daily poojas to the Shiva Lingam. The villagers promised that a thatched roof within a fortnight. Near to the spot, lies a Kaali temple. The temple, has a deity, but was devoid of daily pooja. The Amman idol also had its Abhishekam that given blessed day.
The next in our search was the Karunakaracheri lingam, with a broken ‘avudai’, the Dias for the lingam. Somehow, a local devotee with help of little help from like-minded persons had managed to build a small dwelling in the name of a temple and the roof is yet to be completed. The Shiva lingam, after paalalayam done, is now cooling its head under a neam tree.
The next place we visited , has a very big campus, having signs of stone pillars, stone carvings within the inner walls of the Shiva shrine, all strewn around, tells us the clear tale that this must have been a big temple.
The village, Poonthandalam has its own share of mystery. The Shiva, the story goes, is guarded by Veerabadra, and is called as Agneeswarar.
It seems that anyone trying to do Paalalayam (resurrection) to the Lingam, and rebuild temple, does an action equivalent to nibbling the third eye of Shiva! So outrageous this task may look, in the eyes of God, but for one who has will to build the temple, there is a way!
Nearby, a Sai devotee, who also had a vision of Shirdi Sai Baba, taking reappearance as a 14-year-old boy, had started developing a mammoth 5400 square feet meditation hall with two floors above and the groundwork has just begun! This devotee who is totally penniless, and also having a family to take care has been guided by few Siddhas purushas living around Chennai and keeps getting visions of the next step ahead. When he tried to do the bhoomi puja of his meditation hall, he got this message narrated below:-
A Siddar should enter the shrine, do poojas for 24 hours continuously, and get the approval of the Shiva and Veerabadra. The Lingam can then be shifted and the temple rebuilt. One of the siddhas, known to the said devotee, had agreed for the 24 hour puja inside the sanctum sanctorum and we are looking forward for the decks to clear and rebuilding this magnificent temple back.
When we had taken the task of reviving such temples, messages about more and more ruined temples keep coming to us almost daily!!
One important information to add. Mr. Ramamurthy, hardly craves for advertisement and media glare. However, he has been resurrecting temples with his own money and effort for the past 16 years, and has spent his lifetime earnings on these projects. He has a full library of temples he had resurrected and is a close friend of ASI Superintendent Satyamurthy. Still, they feel there are few scholars who could read stone-carved letters and register the data of old temples and findings in electronic media. Plans are afoot to start training persons who are interested in reading such scriptures (kalvettukkal) by few known groups- Ponniyin Selvan Varalaatru Peravai (Ponniyin Selvan yahoo group), by their moderator Mr.Sunder Bharadwaj, by Ramamurthy and by Mr.Satyamurthy and Varalaaru.com team.
One Philanthropist had promised Mr. Ramamurthy that he would cover basic expenses for resurrecting at least 108 Shivalaayams. Therefore, all temples mentioned above, are earmarked among the 108 and our members will act closely with Ramamurthy to
• Collect information and record all such temples which need immediate resurrection
• Restore and decipher kalvettukkal, to bring out the facts of our deep culture and pristine glory of South Indian history back to Indian History
• Make the temples the main hub of activity for the said given village, allow the locals to participate in decision making, maintaining and perform puja for the Gods, doing away with castes in this process.
• Bring newspaper advertisements, mails in internet, asking for information of such temples, from all people, also, calling for youth’s participation in this program, make a strong work force in thousands, who can attend simultaneously many temples in a given day and cover fast what had been left away for ages!
Any true devotee has the right to worship his God. Ramamurthy had given away Rudrakshas for men and Amman pendant for women who start worshipping in the renewed temple and are following Hinduism in the righteous way. There are many stories told by him, which are fascinating, where God showed him the way to look for him, places where men of other religions donated cash and kind to bring back a Shiva temple. In one such instance, the main village head from other religion spent and resurrected the temple and conducted the Kumbhabishekam of the new Shiva temple with his own hands!
One earnest appeal ...
The temple_cleaners (REACH) yahoo group members and readers who read this kindly try to build up a team of youth known to you, for achieving the four points mentioned above. It is sad to notice that in each trip, we find new faces and the continuity of trying to make some concrete plan and decisions get postponed.
It is proposed by Ramamurthy to start a registered forum under the guidance of above said like-minded persons, and the volunteers of REACH, temple_cleaners group should build up a mammoth work force in all nooks and corners of Tamilnadu, to enable us take up many projects simultaneously.
If work force building is lost, no way the group can really get into act. Any member making a visit should always come for the next trip too, to enable us discuss more purposefully and allot time on their free time for other activities as planned by the core group. Until this happens, more groups will get formed, but will wane. All will just talk of loosing our heritage and glory. It is time we act and act sincerely.