Neighbourhood temple practises traditional rainwater harvesting for centuries

The Karneeswarar temple is said to be around 500 years old. Photo: Vaishali R. Venkat   | Photo Credit: Vaishali R Venkat

While several temple tanks in the city are marked by neglect, Karneeswarar Koil tank in Saidapet stands out for the extraordinary care it receives. The tank, which is spread across a 4,000 sq.ft. area (approximately) and has water upto a depth of six feet, looks clean and well-maintained.

According to temple sources, Rs.6,000 to Rs.8,000 is spent every month just to have the tank cleaned. The expenses incurred in cleaning the facility is greater, after festivals and auspicious days such as Pournami and Amavasya, when considerably more number of devotees visit the temple.

It’s not just human hands that clean the tank. Ducks and fish have been introduced there and they rid the tank of worms, temple authorities say. There are a few devotees who donate ducks and fish to the temple. Love for this tank has manifested in various other ways. When a proposal was made for the construction of a subway – the C.P. Pavalavannan subway – close to the tank, there were voices that demanded that the tank be closed. The location of the tank was said to be making it difficult to carry out the subway project. The temple officials would not let go of the tank. After a series of discussions and a thorough study, it was decided that the subway would be built in such a way that its surface level would be higher than the tank level.

The Karneeswarar temple is over 500 years old. It has a rainwater system that is said to be as old as the temple. After heavy rain, rainwater does not stagnate on roads and inside the temple and runs off straight to the tank, thanks to an age-old rainwater system. In 2000, the authorities raised the height of compound walls of the tank to prevent dumping of garbage. The tank is kept closed, except when it is time for it to be cleaned. However, most of the residents/passersby fling garbage into the tank. On Amavasya days, people dump the remains from rituals on the fringes of the tank. Also dried-up flowers and other things are thrown into the tank during funeral processions. “People should cooperate with us and participate in our efforts to keep the tank clean,” says the official.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 1:08:39 AM |

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