A 400-year-old temple that Maratha king Chathrapathi Shivaji once visited is getting a makeover to restore it to its original grandeur.

The Sri Kalikambal temple, located in George Town, will be renovated and restored by over 14 sthapathis who have arrived from all over the State to work on it. The raja gopuram is being painted, the smaller shrines inside the temple for the parivara devathas including those of Lord Kamateswarar, Ganesha and Murugan too, are being given a new look.

The ceramic and marble tiles that were affixed on the walls at various locations including the Utsavar ambal Mandapam have been removed.

“We are trying to restore the temple to how it was in the 1970s. Tiles stuck on the inscription of Mahakavi Bharathi’s poem Yaadhumaagi nindrai Kaali will also be removed shortly. It was in this temple that composer Aandavan pichai wrote Ullam urugudhaiya ,” explained Subbaiah, a trustee of the Sivachariyar Trust which is handling the renovation.

The temple is run by the Vishwakarma Community.

“Earlier, the walls used to be plain with tiles. Now we have ensured that the shrines conform to the rules set in the agamas. The 22 pillars and the wall around the utsava ambal are getting bronze kavachams,” explained Kalidasan gurukkal.

The temple has a rich history. According to historian V. Sriram, the goddess who was also known as Chenna Ammal was worshipped by Chathrapathi Shivaji who arrived incognito in 1667.

Though officially he was camping outside the city, he sent messengers to the British asking for medicines, which they sent to him. On the third day he asked for a doctor to be sent, which they declined to do. The British, who were bracing themselves for a battle with him, did not have to face him. He left the spot, Mr. Sriram explained.