Member of Parliament, Kancheepuram Lok Sabha, P.Viswanathan of the Congress, has claimed that residents of Mamallapuram viewed the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) notification to take over the Sthalasayana Perumal temple as a move to `bring more area in Mamallapuram town under the control of ASI’.

While strongly opposing the move, the MP, in a letter written to the ASI Director General Gautham Sengupta, has said this temple located right in the heart of the town was merely a place of worship and has no heritage value or archaeological importance.

In his letter dated July 16, the MP has pointed out that the Sthalasayana Perumal temple, maintained by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Board of Tamil Nadu Government, was renovated several times in the last five decades and the `raja gopuram’ (main entrance to the temple) was pulled down and reconstructed in 1998.

‘Takeover creates pressure’

The temple, being the birthplace of `bhoothath alwar’ and one among the ‘108 Vaishnavite Divya Shetrams’, attracts a large number of devotees.

Claiming that the whole town had got together in opposing the ASI’s move, Mr. Viswanthan added that people believed that the takeover was intended to create further pressure on them and thereby bring more area under the control of ASI.

Meanwhile, enquiries reveal that some of the persons spearheading the protest demonstrations against the ASI notification now, have also led similar demonstrations in the past when the local body attempted to shift the bus stand from near the temple.

The bus stand, where the number of services operated by the Government Transport Corporations – both STC (Villupuram) and Metropolitan Transport Corporation, Chennai – has increased considerably during the last few years, has made this area congested , particularly during weekends and on holidays.

Thus, lanes and by-lanes around the temple and to the one leading to the `Arjuna penance’ monument, located behind the temple, were converted as unofficial parking lots and were thereby increasing the chances of monuments getting coated with carbon dioxide fumes emanating from the motorized vehicles, sources said.

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