Visits to Dharmalingeswara group of Temples in Darupalam, Vishnu temple at Srikurmam, Narasimhaswamy temples at Simmachalam and again to Mangalagiri.
The Dharmalingeswara group of temples are totally neglected temples belonging to the late 11th to 14th centuries and are in constant threat due to the illegal mining happening in the hillocks that surround the temple valley.
Floors have moved away, pillars falling apart and the inscriptions gleefully white washed for ages. All this were highlighted during the joint visit done with the local Dharmalingeswara trust personnel and the endowments department officials.
Thanks to Chilkur Rangarajan and Shri. Vizag Dhiwakar deserve praises and thanks for bringing this temple to our attention and to that of the AP endowments department. The Commissioner had shown special interest and has promised help soon.
The problems were common feature in other temples we visited. Srikurmam, Mangalagiri etc. Heavy weather coarse, white wash and heavy usage of modern materials. If these are removed and original structures brought back to life, we can save all these temples.
In Srikurmam, the murals of Oriyan style exist only in this temple, not even in Orissa! They must be at least 300 years old and electrical wiring and white wash all around were marring the beauty of this temple. The mandapa also had heavy weather coarse.The Roads department were to renovate using modern materials and God sake, we went there a day before, to stop the tendering process of the modern renovation! We thank Srikurmam Vishnu for this endeavour. The star turtles also are bred in this temple vicinity and the forest department was forcing few enthusiasts to send the turtles to the forest. Luckily a recent court order has made the tortoises stay back in this temple, having the typical Oriyan style of temple architecture.
Shri. Dhandapani the ASI engineer, and the team climbed atop the mandapa to dig and expose a small portion of the heavy weather coarse to prove that the dead lime is still inside, cement had not blend with the weathering and worst, vegetation roots have spread inside and were playing havoc in breaking away the structures!
Simhachalam temple is well maintained except for the heavy weather coarse we explained earlier. Some stitching of the North Western pillars of the sanctum also needs to be done. Otherwise, we can proudly say that this is one of the well maintained temples in AP, with minimum alterations and modernization.
During our Tirupathi workshop we had visited the Vakulamma temple in the Tirupathi Bangalore Highway, just located at the outskirts of the Tirupathi town. Sad plight and the temple atop a small granite hillock is left hanging, as there is no way to climb up and reach the temple. The Vimana and the Gopura seen from below show the masterly work done by the Vijayanagara craftsmen in lime which is still intact, in spite of abandonment and growth of vegetation. heavyquarrying is going on all around and like a rat eats away all the crumbs around a big bun, the merciless quarry men have broken and chipped of huge chunks of granite from all around, and the temple is left high and dry, literally. When Venkateswara is happy in Tirumala and Tirupathi, his hapless mother Vakulamaligai alias Vakulamma is left sobering in this temple atop this cliff, always surrounded by the hounding 'click click sound of chisels and hammers all throughout the day and night :( Will the endowmenys board save this temple, make a way to go atop and start poojas there?
Hope the trips, reports and the action to be taken by the endowments department will save the temples mentioned above.