Thursday, February 12, 2015

Temple Rebuilding

Dilapidated Sanctum
Restoration of Historic Temples generally  involve  renovating the damaged part without affecting the original structure. The damage is largely due to the wild growth of trees over the ancient structure , left unattended for decades.In this process, the original stones are to be numbered before dismantling. After removing the trees fully, the stones are restored in their original places. By doing so, gaps are created between the stones. The gaps thus formed are normally filled by pointing work  At the same time, the inscriptions,if any,are to be preserved with great care. Painting should be avoided over the granite stones.Removal of original stones and replacement with tiles should also be avoided.  But it is a challenging job to rebuild the entire structure on the same lines of the ruined Temple.

Remains of Nandi Mandapam
It is not uncommon to see the sites suffering from extensive damage. One such Temple was located 7 km south east of Aduthurai . Sri Garbapureeswara Swami Temple at Karupur was left only with Swami Sannadhi and that too in a very bad shape. The highly dilapidated shrine had a tall tree rooted deep into the vimanam of the sanctum. The whole structure was made of bricks. The shrines of Ganapathi and Subramanya were beyond repair. Ambal Shrine had already disappeared. All other Murthis were missing. The compound wall was absent which might have invited anti socials taking advantage of the situation.

All attempts were sincerely made to save the old structure but in vain. The bricks were too old and unable to withstand the load . As the roots had penetrated deep into the sanctum, almost the entire structure had to be disturbed to remove the trees fully. Even if other methods were applied, the structure,made of bricks would not have last long. The brick foundation , about 3 1/2 feet deep was also in a bad shape. The stones started crumbling  and it was realised that any attempt to build the new shine over the old foundation was unsafe.

It has thus become necessary to go for a new structure altogether by not skipping the guidelines given in Agama and Silpa Sastras. Photographs were taken and the measurement of the original shrine was strictly followed when the new structure was raised. Granite stones were procured from Pudukottai and the foundation work was started. Bhoomi Puja was performed with lot of enthusiasm from the local villagers.

South facing Garbaprathambika Sannadhi was also raised on a new foundation by following the original measurements.

Shrines of Ganapathi and Subramanya were reconstructed in their original places. The next job was to place orders for new idols for the respective shrines. After screening many sculptors, it was given to a Sthapathi whose workmanship was better than others.

Stone selection was made at Sthapathi's premises on an auspicious day. It was a good sign to see showers on a sunny day unexpectedly. The stone on which rain water had stagnated in a cavity was brought to the workshop and the Sthapathi offered Pujas to mark the beginning of the work. The progress was monitored at regular intervals and suggestions were given to craft the idol even better. The other idols were also made in this way and sent to the Temple within three months.

After completing the foundation work of both Swami and Ambal shrines, the Vimanams were raised with the support of Philanthropists. Arrangements were made to conduct the consecration on Sunday,1st Feb,2015. It was God's Grace that the star of the day  happened to be " Ardhra " the auspicious one for Lord Shiva. We, at Ardhra Foundation considered it as His blessing which inspired us to serve the Lord more.

As the cost was very high to build a compound wall around the  complex, a wired fence that may last for 5- 10 years was laid as a temporary measure. Another pending job was laying a pathway around the Temple. We hope that these two unfinished jobs will get completed through some blessed souls in the near future.

The locals are now proud and happy to see the ancient Temple of their village restored. It is after all they, who have to visit the Temple daily, conduct worship, monitor the daily Pujas and maintain it  in a good condition. As everyone now realise the very high cost of the neglect , care must be taken to avoid recurrence of the past.  Agamas prescribe the conduct of consecration ceremony once in twelve years.  Apart from maintaining the sanctity of the shrine, it helps to maintain the structure well at a low cost. Rebuilding will never happen if the above guidelines of the Agamas are followed.