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Reconstructing its past glory

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CONSERVATION BID: The Uma Maheshwar temple in Hosgunda of Sagar taluk in Shimoga district.
CONSERVATION BID: The Uma Maheshwar temple in Hosgunda of Sagar taluk in Shimoga district.

Village residents have taken the initiative to restore the 12th century temple's architectural grandeur

A 12th century temple at Hosgunda in Sagar taluk of Shimoga district, which is in ruins, has been taken up for conservation in a bid to restore its architectural grandeur.

The Uma Maheshwar temple, nestled in the verdant forests of the Western Ghats, is being taken up for conservation by the Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Dharmothan Trust in association with the Uma Maheshwar Seva Trust.

The temple will be renovated in strict adherence to its original plan. The stones and slabs will be numbered and placed in their original position. Only those parts that have been irreparably damaged will be replaced.

The temple is believed to have been built during the period of the Sthanik dynasty that ruled this part of the State with Hosgunda as its capital.

A stone inscription of 1103 AD bears the description of the temple that has a height of 21 m and width of 9 m.

The temple, which has intricate carvings, was in a state of neglect. Although widely known as an Ishwar temple, there was no "linga" there. What was left in the sanctum sanctorum was only a pedestal. The erotic carvings on the temple walls lend it architectural significance.

The pillars bear resemblance to the Srikar model of Kalyan Chalukya's period.

It was about six years ago that the village residents came up with the initiative to renovate the temple. It led to the setting up of the Uma Maheshwara Seva Trust headed by industrialist C.M. Nanjunda Sastry. The trust approached D. Veerendra Heggade, Dharmadhikari of Sri Kshetra, Dharmasthala, with a request to take up conservation of the temple under the aegis of the Dharmasthal Manjunatheshwar Dharmothan Trust. And the request was accepted.

The conservation of ancient monuments is usually undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India and the State Department of Archaeology and Museums. But a large number of monuments remain outside its purview calling for the involvement of voluntary organisations.

The Department of Archaeology and Museums and the Dharmothan Trust are bearing 40 per cent each of the cost of conservation work. The remaining 20 per cent is being mobilised through local contributions.

The action plan, claimed to be the first of its kind in the country, envisages the conservation of ancient monuments jointly by the department and the voluntary organisation. As many as 52 ancient monuments have been identified in the State for conservation at a cost of Rs. 3.33 crore.

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