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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

 

Cleaning of Natham Temple at ECR near Kalpakkam

When we got a call from the Shri. Srinivasan of Vadapalani Temple Cleaners Group, (Hindu Aalayangal Sutham Seyyum Narpani Mandram), saying that their cleaning to be done at Parameswarimangalam near Seyyur on ECR Road, will be totally different and a treasure trove for archealogical lovers, we were wondering whether it was an understatement! This place is some 8 kms from Kalpakkam. So, member Chandrasekaran called upon Deepika and archeology student and Mr. Raveen, the Zoology Professor of Thambaram Christian College who was interested in archaeological excavations to come to this village. Member Guruvelevan’s I.T. friends from TCS, Krishnan Bala, Sitaraman, Sundararaman, Janakiraman,Vijayakumar and Ganesamurthy also wanted to help us out in the temple cleaning activity!

Trustee member P.N. Subramaniam, as usual, was the first one to visit along. Entering Parameswarimangalam@ Natham through the non-descript road which takes a right turn from the main ECR road, opposite the road to Kadalur (not the other Kadalur; this is a hamlet near the shore with similar name) and asking several passers-by made us think otherwise, but on reaching the temple site and having a glance at its grandeur and the size of the land around, made us feel very pathetic of its current state. A towering vimana, stone made mandap with sanctum sanctorum, engraved with full of inscriptions inside-out, at sides, on path walks, pillars, the front mandapa etc. The dwara palakas, among whom one has fallen down, due to nature empowering their stature, the broken sinha (lion) bedded pillar which has the rarest of pallava grantha inscriptions, all made our head reel for a while.
The Nandi, stark in contrast by size and colour was facing the opposite side and not towards the lingam. The icon stood out against passage of time and so were the sculptures inside the sanctum sanctorum. The bronze icons some 30 in numbers, were all exposed without much of safety. The priests, who are doing pooja here for generations, lamented the situation and requested that at least the bronzes be kept under safe custody, by making grilled gate safe with lock and key.

During the Muslim invasion in yester years, this temple was targeted in particular as it was parallel in size as that of the Thirukazhukundram temple in the nearby region. No wonder all the sculptures are broken, the pillars and stones from walls are pulled out and few have made way to build a mosque at a nearby place. Crossing a paddy filed nearby, the villagers showed us how the pillars and stones with inscriptions are used in the mosque. A Persian writing has been written across and some new interest has made some of the local Muslims start over again rebuilding this 500-year-old open mosque again. The villagers are not claiming the pillars and stones back to the temple fearing antagonizing their brethren, even though there are hardly few Muslim families within the village. The local Muslims can at least return back the stones and pillars which bear the inscriptions, as they are the proof of historical evidences of what this place was and the temple was in those days! See photos

The series of stone inscriptions from the base starts with Pallava Grantham, earlier inscriptions and above which periodically Kings have updated their contribution one after the other, till the later Cholas of this region. If only an epigraphist student comes down to write down all the inscriptions here, they would end up spending at least some 3 months to decipher and complete the project! And eventually they’ll master epigraphy, as all samples are very much within the same premises!!

The statues inside are also unique. The Devi, Parvathi worships Shiva in Lakshmi form, bearing lotuses in both hands! The weapons usually found in Parvathi’s hands are missing.
The legend goes like this:
As Parvathi took Lakshmi roopam (form), Shiva advised her to worship Vishnu and was turning away from Parvathi and was walking facing the East, towards the coast. As the mercury levels rose, Shiva got thirsty. A 5-headed serpent appeared from nowhere and gave shade to Shiva’s head, as an Umbrella, and a cow gave here milk to quench the thirst of the Lord. This milk started oozing out and started running like water, and so the name of the adjacent river, Paalaar (Paal in Tamil- milk).
There are seven lingams surrounding the sanctum sanctorum. When we visited, few were found missing, and few covered by Thorns and bushes. The members cleared away and thorns and put many a lingam, back to position. The seven lingams are: Kailasanathar, Sampakeswarar (As this place was once a forest full of Sampaka Flowers and trees), Arunachaleswarar, Jagadeeswarar, Ekambaranathar, Valmika nathar, Vyakra Padeswarar. See photos
Statues around the ‘Goshtams’ are also 7 unlike 5 in many places. Facing South we could see Biktchadanar, Vinayaka, Dakshinamurthi and facing West we see Lingothbhava. Facing North are Brahma, Durga and very rare, Hari-Hara statue, where both Shivan and Vishnu are in form merged form! So, saptha lingams and saptha gostams, for us to see! See photos
The Murugan Statue here is also unique, devoid of arms. He carries Brahma’s items, the Atshara Malai and kamandalam. (Gindi Kaksha Subrahmanyam). This was when Muruga asked the meaning of Pranava Mantra to Brahma. Brahma could not answer young Karthikeya @ Murugan. Getting angry, Muruga imprisoned Brahma and took the task of Creation.
Other statues to be noted are the Rama, Lakshmana , Sita statues made of single stone, the Shaivaite saints Sambandar and Sundarar as well as Bhairava, Surya, Sani and Anjaneya.
The festivals conducted here are Pancha murthi Abhishekam during the Tamil month of Chitrai Poornima day, as well as the wedding function of Soundarya Nayaki and Sambakeswara, In month of Avani, Vinayak Chaturthi, in Purattasi Navarathri and Karthika Somavaaram, (4 Mondays of the month of Oct-Nov) The arudra darshan in the month of Margazi, and Sivarathri in them month of Masi. Regular monthly Pradosha Poojas are conducted. The local priests who are working here for generations, lament that the HR & CE department hardly cares for the repair and maintenance of this temple as well as do not take steps to get their due of rice or cash which the temple land leasees need to give back to the temple every year. Renovating this beautiful historically important temple would need nothing less than 20 lakhs and the statues and inscriptions scattered around can be properly collected and gathered in the front mandapa. The front mandapa is also in the verge of collapse. The facades of the mandapas are lying strewn all around the Mosque near by. The Hindu Aalayangal Suththam seyyum Narpani Mandram members were really energetic and skilful. While a few trained youngsters with ropes tied on their waist sprung to action, climbing on the tower, cleaning and applying yellow lime plaster along, the kids around tried their might to remove thorns and grasses using sickle! The older ladies were busy cleaning the utensils, brass lamps and pooja vessels and the younger ones busy cooking food for all volunteers and making garlands for the deity. Not to be left behind, some eager members pulled out all thorny trees and bailed out the missing lingams! Few muscled men even erected the strewn idols straight back to their position. See photos
The I.T guys were not left behind. From TCS, under the reference of our REACH member Guruvelevan, some eight members had come their and were sparing their best efforts in handling sickles and crowbars, not fearing the after effect of back pains, as they are the ones who are handling mostly the soft mouse and key board buttons! See photos

The Government should have a separate body to encourage and fund such NGOs who are interested in restoring heritage structures and temples. The HR & CE or the State Archaeology department, or for that reason the Tourism Department can come together to encourage this type of activity and to give funds to such groups who get themselves involved in such noble act of preserving our heritage. Student Deepika lamented that at least some 50 to 60 graduates who had done Archaeology course and job less. Why can’t the Government agencies involve them along with NGOs like R.E.A.C.H and pay them some decent stipend to enable them undertake the data collection of such heritage buildings, working on estemblage of inscriptions, conservation work, etc.? See photos


The latest addition to this episode:

Flash News - 02nd Dec,2007

Member trustee P.N.S again took his friends Rao (who is a contractor at nearby Kalpakkam Power Plant) and Seyyur Karthik, the Rotary President and also son-of the soil(!) a leading builder to show them this temple. Mr.Karthik had assured that he will see if he can adopt the village for prosperity and also see if a grill gate can be provided to protect the Panchalokas!

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Comments:
Wonderful work guys! It really warms my heart to visit your blog!
 
Dear All

Natham village has since been adopted by the Rotary Club of Madras Central Aadithya (Jan 08). The Mandap and Tank has been taken up on priority basis for renovation.

Medical Camps - Cardio, ENT, Eye, Dental have been conducted here during Feb/March, 08. Operations were conducted on the needed and four them have been restored vision.

If you wish to help us and contribute to our efforts contact:
rcmca@yahoo.com

Divakaran K, Secretary, Rotary Club of Madras Central Aadithya.
 
Chandra,
What's the name of the main deity? It will be easier to differentiate from the other temple, Kaialsanathar. Also the photo links are not working, just fyi.
 
Good work.

 
Really good job gentlemans
 
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