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9th century temple gets facelift

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OVERHAUL: Renovation work in progress at Sri Uthamadhaneeswarar Temple at Keezhadhaniyam near Pudukottai.
OVERHAUL: Renovation work in progress at Sri Uthamadhaneeswarar Temple at Keezhadhaniyam near Pudukottai.

M. Balaganessin

PUDUKOTTAI: Work on renovation of an ancient temple dating back to 9th century AD and accounting for a good number of inscriptions in an interior village is in full swing by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The temple, built during the reign of Ko Ilango Mutharaiyar in an isolated village of Keezha Dhaaniyam near Ponnamaravathy in the district, has been dedicated to Sri Uthamadhaneeswarar.

The temple, which was in a dilapidated condition, was . Every stone and pillar was carefully removed and numbered for its re-alignment in the same order. We utilised only the conventional materials including lime, gall-nut, (‘kadukkai’) and jaggery, said Senior Conservation Assistant, ASI, S. Bagavansarathy.

The temple testifies to the importance of Ko Ilango Mutharaiyar rule that lasted for over 15 years during which time another temple was built at Keeranur in the district, also dedicated to Sri Uthmadhaneeswarar, say Karu. Rajendran, epigraphist and C. Govindaraj, curator of the Government Museum.

Distinct feature

The popular form of ‘all-stone and all-square’ style is the characteristic feature of the architecture as the structure is in a perfect square shape right from the base (Ubanam) up to its top. The ASI has retained the original structure intact.

The ‘mandapam’ and a shrine for Sri Ambal were other additions made during the later period. The architecture of the ‘mandapam’ testified to the style of 12th century AD. The shrine for Sri Ambal was added during the later Pandya era.

The Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Chennai, Sathybama Badrinath, said that the temple was one of the earliest stone temples of the early Chola period. The beams got weakened and went out of plumb. The interior location of the village, coupled with the absence of road link, posed challenges in moving building materials to the site, she said explaining the hardships faced by the ASI in renovating the temple.The renovation work would be completed in a few weeks, she added.

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