Mantralayam limping back to normality

M.L. Melly Maitreyi

Hyderabad: It was a spectacle neither they nor their ancestors had ever witnessed. For over a dozen temple priests and their families whose lives were entwined with the daily worship at the renowned Mantralayam temple, the abode of Sri Raghavendra Swamy, October 2 is a day they recall with fear and anguish.

When the surging Tungabhadra waters engulfed the Mantralayam town near Kurnool on Friday, little did they anticipate the calamity that was unfolding. Even as people rushed to safety and perched on housetops as the water level started rising menacingly, they were aghast to see the rising water flooding the temple and rising to a height of six to seven feet. The priests and families residing since ages in the quarters opposite the temple refused to move to a safer place. “We did not want to leave our ‘Swamy’ at any cost,” said a priest to a photographer who reached the temple town braving all odds on Friday.

Unperturbed by the trail of destruction in the town, a group of priests set upon themselves the task of cleansing the temple on Saturday as the water started receding slowly from the temple but leaving about three feet of silt in the temple complex.

A fire engine was requisitioned on Saturday to clear the silt from the temple complex. “It was not easy for the fire engine to make it here with the roads badly damaged and through the water logged town. We hope to restore the temple to its normality in about a week’s time,” the priests said.

Meanwhile, the scene elsewhere in the town was the picture of devastation it suffered as the town was besieged with unprecedented flood water. The photographer who caught the trail of havoc said he could see a couple of bodies and carcasses of cattle in the town. About 60 cows in the “Goshala” of the temple were believed to have died.