Elephant skeleton, Chinese pots: Kerala temple cellar throws up a surprise

A recent attempt to restore the Thiruvayamkudy Mahadeva temple, near Kaduthuruthy, Kottayam, appears to have brought to light an interesting facet of history associated with the centuries-old structure.

The temple authorities have unearthed several objects, including the skeleton of an elephant, its chain and other wooden articles from a basement in the temple complex here. The articles were found hidden underneath the vegetative growth inside the cellar, which is about 5-ft deep from the ground and can hold only one person at a time.

Several wooden articles, Chinese pots of different sizes and lamps made of bell metal too have been recovered from the vault.

A team of forest officials visited the location and commenced efforts to conduct radiocarbon dating of the animal’s remnants. As part of subjecting the bone samples to carbon-dating, a team from the College of Veterinary Science and Animal Sciences, Mannuthy, Thrissur, will soon inspect the skeleton parts.

G. Prasad, Assistant Conservator of Forests, said the recovered materials included jaw bones, knee bones and a few other bones of the elephant. “Preliminary reports suggested that these belonged to a makhna elephant that lived nearly two centuries ago,” the officer said.

According to him, the temple authorities may now seek permission from the Chief Wildlife Warden to keep these wildlife articles in their possession after making an inventory declaration under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Meanwhile, the temple trust commenced efforts to open a museum in association with the Department of Archaeology to showcase the articles.

“The elders have passed on information about a mozha (Makhna) elephant that died here over a century ago. The animal is believed to have been cremated in a property just outside the temple complex and some of its bones and chain might have made their way into the vault,” said Vasudevan Namboothiri, president of the Thiruvayamkudy temple trust.

Long history

The history of the temple could be traced back to 1,000 years. “The recovery of elephant bones is indeed a unique incident to have reported from any of the temples. It highlights the need to preserve this heritage temple complex, a one of its kind in the entire region,” observed Pallikonam Rajeev, who has carried out extensive research on the history of the temple.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 1:01:07 AM |

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