Tamil Nadu

Meenakshi temple mandapam worst hit by fire

The Veera Vasantharayar Mandapam inside the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, which houses several shops selling a range of products from plastic toys to puja articles, sustained the heaviest damage as a result of the fire that broke out at the eastern entrance of the temple on Friday night, Collector K. Veera Raghava Rao said here on Saturday.

Accompanied by officials of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department, he inspected the East Wing of the temple on Saturday morning.

Speaking to The Hindu, he said portions of the ceiling and a few pillars in an area spanning 7,000 square feet had fallen to the ground, adding that as many as 36 shops were gutted in the fire. “An investigation into the cause of the fire is on,” he said. The Mandapam, built in 1611 AD, had many intricately designed pillars, some of which were damaged in the fire. A team of engineers from the Public Works department and the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple would inspect the damage and propose a plan of action.

The Collector stated that the Thousand Pillar Hall, situated right next to the Mandapam, was stable. “There were no injuries,” he said.

However, he didn’t respond to a query whether the 150 shopkeepers in the temple would be evicted.

Protest erupts

Meanwhile, a section of devotees and members of right-wing groups staged a protest, demanding the eviction of shops from the temple premises.

Some raised slogans against the State government, the District Collector and the temple administration. The BJP, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Youth Sena took part in the stir. “The State government is using the temple as its property and minting money through these shops [inside the temple],” said BJP district president C. Sasiraman.

However, the shopkeepers in the temple’s vicinity said they complied with all safety regulations, adding that they have been a part of the temple’s history for generations.

Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Sevvoor S. Ramachandran, who inspected the temple in the evening, said a committee had been formed to probe the reasons behind the fire.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 6:16:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/meenakshi-temple-mandapam-worst-hit-by-fire/article22647153.ece

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