Downtown

A quite achievement

Kumbabishekam of Sri Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore is scheduled to take place on April 3. Photo: V. Ganesan   | Photo Credit: V_GANESAN



The Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Mylapore is decked up for the big day. Its floors have been scrubbed and its gopurams, renovated and freshly painted and then, every spot seems to have been decorated.

Behind the splendour is a quiet, unassuming team. A key part of it is Sthapathi Mannikam, a resident of Karaikudi, who has been camping here for over six months now. With 52 of his workers, Mannikam has ensured well in advance that the temple is ready for its ritual bathing.

Mannikam comes from a family of temple architects.

Though he has no degree in architecture, he has learnt everything by observation and practical work.

“My family has been doing this for generations. My grandfather was the sthapathi during the kumbabhisekam of the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple. I would join him and later my father, during the renovation and construction work. As a temple architect, we are taught the Shilpa Shastras (Hindu texts that describe the art, craft, design rules, principles and standards) right from childhood. I only have a traditional knowledge of architecture,” he says.

Two years ago, Mannikam was invited to renovate the annadanam mandapam at the Kapali Temple.

Seeing his work, the management roped him in for the Kumbabishekam.

“Working on the rajagopuram was a challenge as the 117-feet gopuram has 3,800 dolls. Some of them had been damaged. In some, the astras were missing. My men had to carve and paint them again,” he says, adding that a temple architect must know everything from sculpting to painting.

Around 30 men were working on the rajagopuram alone.

In keeping with the eco-friendly concept, Mannikam has used water-based paint instead of enamel on the dolls on the rajagopuram and three other gopurams.

“We took up 80 per cent of the work. The rest was taken up by another sthapathi,” he says.

Though Mannikam has constructed temples in many South Asian countries, working for Kapleeshwarar temple, he says, has given him utmost satisfaction.


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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 1:45:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/sthapathi-mannikam-spruces-up-the-rajagopuram-and-other-mandapams-of-kapaleeshwarar-temple-in-mylapore-ahead-of-kumbabhishekam/article8426337.ece

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