It is taking up road expansion under the Thanjavur-Vikkiravandi four-lane project

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to spare the 1000-year-old Siva temple at Manampadi village near Kumbakonam while taking up road expansion under the Thanjavur-Vikkiravandi four-lane project.

The decision will save the temple that was declared by State Archaeology Department as a protected monument 30 years ago.

“We have decided to spare the temple. You can be assured that it will be protected,” NHAI sources said here on Friday. An official announcement is expected in a week.

The 165-km national highway between Vikkiravandi and Thanjavur will be a four-lane road from Vikkiravandi up to Jayamkondam for a distance of 93 km. From there, it will be a 10-metre wide highway like the East Coast Road. Land acquisition is going on and in that process, NHAI had marked a portion of the ancient temple for demolition.

The sections marked for demolition included a compound wall adjacent to the road, the Amman and Chandikeswarar shrines. The people of the village, historians and archaeologists opposed the proposed demolition and appealed to the State government and NHAI to give up the move. They heaved a sigh of relief that now NHAI has decided to spare the temple.

Meanwhile, Kudanthai Jyothimani Iraipani Thirukoottam, a forum of devotees, has sent a letter to Chief Minister’s special cell appealing her to spare the temple while expanding the road. The Thirukottam members said Chandrasekar Reddy, Project Director of NHAI, had sent a reply to the special cell that the temple would be spared. He reportedly said three alternative proposals for laying the road without disturbing the temple had been sent to NHAI headquarters.

Kudavayil Balasubramanian, epigraphist and archaeologist, who also sent a letter to the Chief Minister to take steps to spare the temple, welcomed the NHAI’s decision. “This will be a fitting tribute to Rajendra Chola,” he said. The 1,000 anniversary of the great Chola king’s coronation would be celebrated in 2014, Mr. Balasubramanian noted. The temple built by King Rajendra (1012 to 1044 AD) has an entrance without a gopuram. The prahara has beautiful flower plants. It is a functioning temple, with villagers visiting it regularly, offering worship and organising festivals. The vimana on the main temple with the sanctum sanctorum is in dilapidated condition and enveloped by creepers. The compound wall is also damaged.

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