As the clock ticks fast towards the auspicious occasion of Mahasivaratri, devotees started thronging small and big temples of Lord Siva across the district in huge numbers.

But, at a desolate location at Gamalapadu village here, time virtually stands still, as nothing but the remains of an ancient temple set amid lush green fields can be seen.

It was Sri Chenna Mallikarjuna Swamy temple that once stood as a spiritual landmark during the tumultuous reign of the Palnadu kings. This 11th century temple is believed to be built and regularly visited by Nayakuralu Nagamma, who was the famous chief adviser to King Nalagama and, over the years, became popular as ‘Nayakuralu Nagammagudi’. She was residing in the same area that sits on the banks of the now-parched river Naguleru.

What remain today are a few idols and a large number of marble stones scattered around the main structure, which has some inscriptions on its walls.

The area, spanning nearly 12 acres, is dug up at several places, and the temple is also not spared by those who were on a constant lookout for treasures.

In their quest for antiquities and other valuables, the thieves completely vandalised the structures and even blasted a part of the main temple with explosives.

Today, the temple is barely standing on its crumbling foundations as it is left to the vagaries of nature and human greed for hidden riches.

The Nayakuralu Nagammagudi was recently declared a Protected Monument under the Andhra Pradesh Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act.

But nothing had since been done for restoring it, except that the jungle around it had been cleared twice in recent years.

The dilapidated fort at the nearby Tangeda village is another favourite hunting ground of the treasure-hunters. The entire Palnadu region is abound in such forgotten monuments craving for attention.

MLC T.G.V. Krishna Reddy, who took interest in developing the temple, told The Hindu that the Department of Archaeology & Museums could not take up the project, obviously due to its limitations.

He raised the matter with district Collector S. Suresh Kumar and stressed the need for protecting all heritage monuments.

A district-level Monument Protection Committee was to be constituted. It has not yet become a reality.

Former MLA Janga Krishna Murthy, who was on the TTD Trust Board, did some work for restoring the temple to its past glory (with the help of the TTD). There were several obstacles that hampered his and others’ efforts to get the project going.