A sculptural and spiritual treat awaits the devotees at Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple at Yadadri set to reopen on March 28 after a massive renovation. The icing on the cake is the installation of the intricately-designed 52 golden kalasams atop the gopurams.
Designed and gold plated by the Chennai-based Smart Creations, the kalasams are made with the Nano Tech Gold Deposition (NTGD) technology, which allows lesser consumption of gold. It increases the affordability of the projects by reducing the use to about 5 grams per sqft.
"Unlike the conventional gold coating, the thickness of the gold layer using this method is reduced to microns. This is achieved through electroplating of gold onto a suitable metal substrate, preferably copper, which is well known for its conductivity. The initial copper electroplating ensures a smooth and even finish. The same can be replicated with silver electroplating as well. The longevity of the product is also assured as the gold is plated rather than applied as a coating. The final product is significantly lighter and easier to handle than products coated through conventional methods. The best part is the gold deposited through this method is 100% recoverable at any given point of time." says Mr Pankkaj Bhaandari, founder, Smart Creations, who has been into restoration and beautification of temples across the country and abroad.
The cutting edge nanotechnology that has gone into the making of the golden kalasams is also used in NASA/ISRO defence applications and equipment. Says Mr Bhaandari, "We use the same technology but customised for spiritual spaces for validation and longevity. Additionally, our gold coating is protected from surface damage by a hard lacquer coating. Our artefacts can, therefore, be passed down to generations looking as good as brand new."
In a gold-plating work, normally the gold loses its shine after 15 years. The government of Telangana was keen on a 50-year warranty of the gold plating. Smart Creations studied and took ideas from temples across India — Dharmshala, Kashi Vishwanath temple, Siddhi Vinayak Temple in Mumbai, Amritsar Golden Temple and Sabarimala temple. "We considered the environmental and religious factors before figuring out what works for the temple," states Mr Bhaandari, an ISB-Stanford Alumni, who also studied a masjid in Central London built by the Iranian community. "I managed to get photographs of it a few decades ago and now to study how the lustre of the gold has changed. I sat with chemical scientists to figure out how we need to eliminate the copper-gold migration technique and how gold needs to be fused between two layers to achieve the 50-year-warranty of gold mandate."
Smart Creations had engaged the services of architect Ravindran Sthapathi, who is a 35th generation artisan, to design the kalasams. Ravindran ensured that Agama Sastra rules were conformed to while designing. "The 52 kalasams are hand beaten on copper shields as per the spiritual measurements and then were gold-plated at our factory and delivered back to the temple," says Mr Bhaandari.
Stating that it is a special project for his company, Mr Bhaandari admits that they have never been involved in this kind of temple renovation. "We have been picked over a process that has been scientific makes it special for us and the way the Telangana government has gone about preparing the document about what should be the selection process is amazing."
Smart Creations has done work in over 100 temples in India, worked on over 10,000 idols, restored over one lakh idols including gold-plating of a dwajasthambam at Virudhnagar church in Chennai and over 60 dwajasthambams at Shri Jirawala Parshwanath Jain Tirth temple in Rajasthan using the NTGD technology.
Smart Creation diversified in 2014, to expand the NTDG technology from temples to puja rooms — prayer spaces within homes. "A whole lot of prayer spaces got designed and executed by us using NDTG technology for the vigrahas, kuthuvilakku, and other decorative accessories."