News Brief

Surviving Demolition And Neglect: 1,000-Year-Old Naganathaswamy Temple In Tamil Nadu Set for Restoration

Nayan Dwivedi

Sep 29, 2023, 03:13 PM | Updated 03:13 PM IST

Pic Via Twitter
Pic Via Twitter

The Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology is embarking on a restoration project for the ancient Naganathaswamy Temple in Manambadi, Thanjavur district.

This initiative aims to revive the Chola-era temple, which had suffered previous dismantling during a failed renovation attempt and had even faced threats of demolition for a highway construction project.

Originally constructed by Rajendra Chola I between 1012 and 1044 CE, the Naganathaswamy Temple is situated about 15 km from Kumbakonam and is renowned for its remarkable stone sculptures and historical inscriptions.

Beyond its cultural significance, the temple plays a vital role in the local economy as a hub for trade and commerce.

The temple features an ekatala vimana and a mukha mandapa, both divided into three bays, adorned with sculptures of deities and intricate makara thoranas (ceremonial arches).

The site also boasts significant inscriptions from the periods of Rajendra Chola I and Kulothunga I, shedding light on historical events and grants for temple activities.

Despite facing previous threats, including a potential highway project and a botched renovation attempt, the temple has endured with the help of public pressure and UNESCO inspection.

Previously, the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department initiated a renovation project that faced controversy, resulting in the 'virtual demolition' of the temple.

“The contractor did not have the required expertise and the temple was virtually demolished. The dismantled stones were left scattered and strewn around,” recalled Thiruvadikudil Swamigal, founder, Jothimalai Iraipani Thirukoottam, a forum of devotees, which has been lobbying for the early renovation of the temple, The Hindu reported.

Following UNESCO's recommendation for expert oversight, the HR&CE Department suggested the Department of Archaeology take charge of the restoration, which has been approved.

Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu, responsible for the Department of Archaeology, visited the temple to discuss renovation plans, and work will commence once estimates and funds are approved.

Nayan Dwivedi is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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