Agitated members have sent a letter to the Chief Minister’s cell requesting her intervention.

Residents of Triplicane, visiting devotees and heritage enthusiasts are at loggerheads with the Parthasarathy temple authorities. They are protesting against the ongoing construction at the temple meant to cover the parakara or circumambulatory passage.

In their opinion, the construction is impairing the architectural character of the temple and denying the faithful a venerable view of the gopura (temple gateway) and vimana (tower over the sanctum). They are also upset with the temple authorities for insensitively replacing the old granite floor with a relatively polished stone that is proving inconvenient to walk.

Agitated members have sent a letter to the Chief Minister’s cell requesting her intervention.

The Parthasarathy temple is one of the important Vaishnavite shrines in the country and literary references about it are datable to the 6th century AD. The iconography of the main deities is older and historians think the six icons in the sanctum are a part of a much-older Vrsni or Pancaviras cult. However, the existing structure is not as old. The temple was regularly modified and new structures were added.

“The Parthasarathy temple, like other South Indian temples, has a distinctive character with a high compound wall, large towers, pillared halls and open prakaras. Over a period, people in power have insensitively modified this heritage structure. What is now left is the open space around the inner sanctum. If you cover the last of the open prakara with a roof, it would no more be a temple but a kalyana mandapam [marriage hall] with some shrines in it,” said an agitated R.K. Ragavendran, a resident of Triplicane and a regular at the temple.

C.R. Srinivasan, an 80-year-old devotee is unhappy with the authorities for changing traditions and history. “Old ways of keeping up the temple and taking people into consideration has changed for worse,” he said.

The temple officials in their defense explained that all aspects of worship and convenience were considered before starting the construction.

“We discussed with the experts and followed due procedure. What is coming up is only a translucent roof, which will let in sunlight and provide shade at the same time. We often cover the space during festivals using temporary materials. This used to add to the cost of conducting the festivals. The new construction will reduce the recurring cost and help perform the rituals conveniently. Though the roof covers the prakara, a portion of it is left open so that devotes can view the gopura and vimana without hindrance,” they added.


A. SrivathsanJune 28, 2012

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