A painful scene greets thousands of pilgrims outside the ancient Kailasanathar Temple at Tharamangalam in the district everyday – gigantic monolithic pink granite pillars that are fully carved, polished and ready for installation are found scattered outside the temple for many years now.
The story dates back to the 13 Century when Ketti Mudali King Mummudi ordered the construction of the temple that was later completed in the 17 Century during Ketti Mudali King Vanangamudi’s reign. He wanted to build a thousand pillar mandapam (hall) for the temple and initiated the project. But he was killed in the war in Omalur in 1667 A.D. and the pillar works were left unfinished.
About 500 such pillars are said to be buried in the ground outside the temple with less than 20 pillars currently visible there.
In 1975, the 143rd Collector of Salem District, A.M. Swaminathan, took efforts in retrieving the pillars and tried constructing the mandapam with the available pillars.
But declaration of Emergency on June 26, 1975 halted the plan and thereafter no efforts were taken to restore and preserve the pillars.
Debris and garbage are dumped along the remaining finished and unfinished granite pillars outside the temple posing threat to their longevity.
Members of Salem Historical Society who recently visited the temple called for restoration and preservation of the ancient stone pillars.
Its general secretary J. Barnabas told The Hindu that the dream of the king to build a thousand-pillar mandapam could not be achieved. At least the remaining pillars should be erected and preserved, he added.
Sculptors said that temple pillars with artistic works were difficult to be made now even with the help of advanced technology. Those were carved in the absence of any modern facilities.
All the pillars should be preserved, they added.
Currently, under the Heritage Town Development Programme, renovation of the temple, lake and other works were being carried out at a cost of Rs. 1 crore. A devotee from Bangalore S. Bapu wanted the State government to take steps to restore the pillars.