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Ancient Wayanad temples in ruins

E.M. Manoj
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Centre yet to declare them national monuments

The ancient Janardhana and Vishnu temples at Punchavayal, near Panamaram, in Wayanad district remain in neglect two years since the Centre announced its intention to declare them national monuments.

Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Narayanasamy, then in charge of the Culture Ministry, had made the announcement in the Lok Sabha in 2009.

M. Nambirajan, Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Thrissur Circle, told The Hindu on Friday that his office had no information on the declaration. The Director-General of the organisation should issue two notifications for acquiring the monuments, which had not been done. A.C. Ajithkumar, owner of the temples and priest of the Jain community in the district, said the ASI authorities had approached him for negotiations on the property before sending their proposal to the Centre and he had agreed to provide it free if the temples would be declared protected monuments.

 The granite structures are in need of urgent attention. Treasure hunters recently destroyed many portions of the temples, which were badly damaged during Tipu Sultan's invasion.

Nearly 300 carvings on the huge stone pillars have survived the passage of time. A sculpture of a fishing man, a primitive war scene featuring tuskers, other such war scenes, a few erotic sculptures, a stone edict in old Kannada script, figures of Jain deities and sculptures of the ‘Dashavathara' still stand. The intricate and elaborate carvings on the pillars are in a bad condition because of long years of neglect.

The style of the sculptures and a stone edict on a wall of the Janardhana temple in old Kannada script show that these temples might have been built during the reign of the Hoysala or the Vijayanagara dynasties in the Deccan plateau from the 12th to the 14th centuries.

The huge stone pillars were brought from Karnataka, M.R. Raghava Varier, historian who studied the sculptures, told The Hindu. The ‘Jaladhara' inscriptions on a copper plate in a Jain temple at nearby Varadoor confirm it, Dr. Varier said.

Jain structures

These temples have been built according to the temple architecture of the Jain community, each with a ‘Garbhagudi' (sanctum sanctorum), a ‘Navarangam' (a place for sub deities), a ‘Kalasa Mandapam' and a ‘Gopuram,' Mr. Ajithkumar said.

The Janardhana temple has all those structures, though in a dilapidated state, but the ‘Gopuram' and the ‘Kalasa Mandapom' of the Vishnu temple have been completely ruined.

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