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Ancient idol to be restored

Authorities of the iconic Mahabaleshwar Temple in the coastal temple town of Gokarna in northern Karnataka have approached officials of the Mahalaxmi Temple in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur district seeking assistance in the restoration of a Ganesha idol.

The Mahabaleshwar Temple, suffused with India’s ancient heritage and religiosity, was built during the reign of the Kadamba dynasty that held sway over the State during the 4th-6th centuries CE.

Historians say the Ganesha idol is one of the oldest worshipped images of Lord Vinayaka. “The idol bears ancient ethnographic features that date from the 4th century that make it unique,” said Shrinivas Padigar, professor and chairman of ancient Indian History and Epigraphy, Karnataka University, Dharwad.

According to mythology, the temple, located on the Karwar coast, was established after Ravana, an ardent worshipper of Lord Shiva, was on his way to Sri Lanka from the latter’s abode in Kailash when he stopped by at the spot for evening prayers. It is said that there he encountered Ganesha disguised as a Brahmin boy. The idol, contrary to the mythos about evolution of the four-handed Ganesha, depicts a two-handed Ganapati seen standing and clutching a radish (in lieu of lotus) and a goblet-shaped ‘modak patra’ (vessel).

The idol’s decay has harried temple authorities who have turned to their counterparts in Kolhapur’s historic Mahalaxmi Temple, where the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) began work on the centuries-old Ambabai in July this year. The ASI had conducted a chemical restoration of the Ambabai idol by injecting it with a compound to fill gaps and mend the idol uniformly. Kolhapur temple priests have expressed their delight at offering assistance.

“The epoxy (resin) layer earlier used to fill in cracks in the Ambabai idol was removed by the ASI’s fresh preservation process. Now, the idol looks as good as new. Hence, we are hoping that the Mahabaleshwar temple authorities, too, will see similar results,” said Gajanan Munishwar, head priest at Mahalaxmi temple.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 4:40:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ancient-idol-to-be-restored/article7946526.ece

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