Sunday, September 09, 2012

Thandarai - mystic call from Shiva

The Swarna Kalikambal sametha Ratnagarbeswarar Shiva temple alias Kunteeswarar Temple at Thandurai (now called as Thandarai) 10 kms off the Uttaramerur - Vandavasi road, was saved by rampant demolition, thanks to the alert Taxi driver Shri S Natarajan our REACH member. The priest who attended the temple claimed that in spite of many attempts none came to restore this temple, and he took a vow before the Lord promising over a burning camphor that he would give up priesthood, if even if REACH could not renovate this temple! Such was his agony and anguish. He was very convinced that proper technical trouble shooting is the need of the hour and not just demolishing and rebuilding is needed. When we saw the temple, we had no clue of its name, even after checking the government records. Invoking Deiva prasnam, we found that Kubera and his consort came to this Ratnagarbeshwarar, seeking refuge when his wealth was under siege! When Chandi becomes black after drinking the blood of the asuras she kills, she prays to her Shakthi within herself to get the black colour changed to a golden hue, thus becoming Swarna Kalikambal! So it is said that those who have problems in inheriting their due wealth or having skin ailments will get solace by worshipping Ratnagarbeshwarar and Swarnakalikambal. The Kuntiswarar temple, later we came to know hardly gets any maintenance and when in early 1900 some good sould wanted the Navagrahas to be worshipped by all, replanted them from inside the Mahamandapa to a smaller mandapa built outside the compound premises. This and wrong positioning of Bhairava and Surya sculptures lying in some corner of the compound, has led to the down fall of this temple. Also, the prasnam revealed that 2 theerthas prevail here and true to that we saw one well inside the compound and the other bigger well which still gives drinking water to the village just outside the present compound. 
Sure to the title of the blog, it was a mystic call to us and also to Natarajan, the taxi driver, as both were not sure why this temple came in our dreams and haunted us for days together till we came back to start working on the renovation. Natarajan sold his taxi, but lost most of the money unplanned. REACH makes all renovations using its own funds till date. Work is in slow progress as labour costs is a big constraint.

The Perumal temple adjacent to this Shiva Temple was pulled down due to ignorance of the facts that

1) Any heritage temple beyond 100 years if altered or broken down without the knowledge of archaeological department would attract punishment and 

2) Absolute poor knowledge on heritage temples’ renovation techniques. 

The picture below shows the old photo of the Vishnu Temple which we pulled out from old records and the stark modern tiled mega bathroom like tiled and multi-colured renovated (?) temple stands today which reminds us the sad plight of many such temples getting mutilated by spurious and dubious sthapathis.

Huge money spent and the donor still running around for donations to waive off his loans, stones and inscriptions of the old temple have been pulled down and are lying around the new construction even today! The dwajasthamba with the king with folded hands is lying aside int epicture above seen in the left hand corner. Is he pleading mercy?

Thandarai Shiva Temple
Shiva temple renovation is REACH FOUNDATION
Now that the Shiva temple came to our notice, we sprung to action by submitting a letter to the HR&CE department to renovate it on our own funds. The vegetation had gone deep on either side of the junction between the Arda Mandapa and Maha Mandapa. The weather coarse above which had been re-laid a century ago, had been too heavy to withstand, hence the dilapidation. The weather coarse turned out to be almost one meter, which was carefully broken and removed. Tree killers were applied to kill the vegetation and uproot the charred roots away. The stones were removed and re-laid carefully. Lime mortar work is in progres; the vimana rough work, the levelling and weather coarse, roofing work is under progress.

The inscriptions of Kampana Udayar, late Nayaka kings and the later Telugu  chieftains reveal that in last of 18th century the village was called as Sitaramapuramu and the mandap outside the village entrance is also in a dilapidated condition with some rare teleugu inscriptions seen on its ceilings.

The reliefs around the temple are also amazing. Than Thurai (water body) implying Kanchipuram flooded with Vegavathi, Parvathi hugging Shiva is well crafted on the side wall. Is she protecting Shiva or hugging Shiva to protect herself?

Also are interesting the mystic indication of Chandrasekara sitting on the bull by just showing a mere crescent moon above nandi. Many such reliefs are crying for relief! White wash was removed and they were relieved!

Kamakshi hugging Shiva when Vegavathi gets flooded
Symbolic representation of Chandrasekhara on rishabha
Devotee worshipping Karthikeya above
Cow milking to perform Abhishekha on Lingam
Did Kavadi exist those days? A clown with a club riding a rafter?
 Many such temples languish, why not they be converted to heritage temples with due care which would also attract heritage tourists to such places?


injamaven said...

#4 devotee seems to be very afraid of Subramanya, reeling backward in terror?

Anonymous said...

This was a very interesting and soul fulfilling information about the temples. I am very impressed about which is doing a noble job that also taking into consideration the various government rules/authorities and the archeological society of India.

Unknown said...

May iknow the location of the temple?

Anonymous said...

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R.E.A.C.H Foundation said...

It is on the Uttaramerur-VAndavasi highway, some 7-8 kms, after which you have to detour a kilometer on the left. Ask for Thandarai