500-year-old temple being rebuilt without expert help

Arts & Culture

The 500-year-old Sannati temple is being reconstructed by local villagers without taking care of the historical significance of the temple.

By Yashasvini Razdan

Sannati village in Gulbarga district houses a 500-year-old temple built on the banks of the Bhima river to worship Goddess Chandralamba Parmeshwari. On entering the temple, one is greeted by the clanging noise of the construction machines used to reconstruct the 500-year-old temple. A new shikhara(dome), which has been painted yellow stands tall and modern sculptures of two dwarpalas (doormen) guard the entrance.

Ambernath, an auto-rickshaw driver from Shahpur said that this temple was revered by all. “They are rebuilding this temple to make it stronger and better. Whoever visits this temple should see the glory of this temple,” he said.

However, experts are of the opinion that ancient temples ought to be reconstructed under expert supervision.

Mr. Lourdu Rajulton, the principal architect at A.L.R.A and a visiting faculty at R.V. College of Architecture said that the ancient temples were constructed out of stone. He said that by reconstructing an ancient temple without the guidance of an expert, an important part of history would be lost. “Usually reconstruction takes place under the supervision of INTACH or ASI and the original spirit of the building is retained. The local contractors have no clue about the characteristics, alignment and ornamentation of the temple. The spirit of the temple would be lost, “ he explained.

The Archaeological Survey of India is responsible for the restoration and conservation of heritage buildings. The Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act (KTCP) states that the heritage buildings are addressed under the ‘areas of special control and development’ while preparing master plans Master Plans although the process of choosing such buildings hasn’t been defined.

In 1986, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) discovered inscriptions about Emperor Ashoka in Brahmi script at the temple. Today the only thing which resembles the old temple is the garbagriha i.e. the sanctum sanctorum built out of stones. The entire complex has been modernised with marble floors. The shikhara is adorned with modern painted sculptures which are a stark contrast to the stone sculptures on the pillars inside the garbagriha.

The priest of the temple Sudhendra Joshi explained the architecture of the building. He said, “The old temple was built by rocks and hard stones. The pillars here are divided into three parts. The base signifies Brahma, the square stone on it is Vishnu and the dome is Maheshwara or Shiva. The villagers have contributed to reconstruct this old temple and make it more beautiful. ”

Mr. Rajulton explained. “There are two types of stone constructions. In the first category, the walls are thick and made of stone to hold the weight of the building while the second category involves the weight of the building being borne by the thick stone pillars. Both provide strength to the structure, the former being better. The concrete structures that we build today cannot last more than 100 years, at most 50-60 years.”

He gave examples as to how the reconstruction could be undertaken without damaging the historical significance of the temple. “Restoration can be attempted in three ways. The first one is like in the case of the Meenakshi temple in Madurai, which is regularly renovated without damaging the original structure.

“The second way is as in the case of the old mosques of Gujarat, where the structures were replicated without disturbing the old structure and the ornamentation without disturbing the old structure. The third way is to drop the old structure entirely and construct a new and plain structure which does not steal the limelight away from the old structure. This way we respect history and do not erase any part of it,” he added.

Sudhendra Joshi said that his family had taken care of the temple for the 3-4 generations. “This is an ancient temple dedicated to Goddess Chandralamba Parmeshwari. This is the place where she took an avatar as a bee and bit Ram Setu who had been following her. He died and the Goddess took samadhi in the Bhima river,” he said.


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