Temple restored to its original glory

MYSORE, MARCH 24. The resplendence of the 12th century Gopalakrishna Temple that was submerged when the Krishnaraja Sagar was built in the Twenties has been recreated in its original glory at a new site off the backwaters of the reservoir.

The temple was located at Kannambadi village. Its splendid towers used to periodically emerge and present a glorious sight whenever the water level dipped below the 68-foot mark in the reservoir. The local villagers used to rejoice on sighting the temple towers. The entire temple complex was visible during the drought period between 2001 and 2004. This brought alive the architectural splendour of the structure.

The Khoday Foundation offered to restore the temple at a new site and with Government permission, it commissioned archaeologists and temple architects to study the original design and plan. The structure was shot by video and every slab was marked before it was dismantled. The process has taken nearly two years and the stone slabs were assembled about one km. upstream of the original site at the Hosakannambadi. The temple was dismantled in a record time when the complex was accessible because the inflow into the reservoir during monsoon would have led to its submergence once again.

But it was the restoration process that proved to be challenging as every stone block had to be assembled in the same order and the same sequence at the new site. The Gopalkrishna Temple, in its original shape measured about 100 yards by 60 yards. Experts opine that the temple displays both Dravidian and Chalukyan style of architecture and has considerable architectural value and merit.

The Mysore Gazette, edited by historian Hayavadhana Rao in the early 19th Century, provides authentic description of the temple as it was intact and had not yet submerged at the time of its publication. According to it, the temple was a symmetrical building enclosed by two "prakaras". "The mahadwara or the outer gate has verandas on both sides. To its right and left are the yagasala and the kitchen. There was a second mahadwara with verandas on both sides leading into the inner enclosure and around the inner prakaras were 46 shrines — 17 on the southern side, 12 on the west and 17 on the north. The shrines contain figures of the 24 murtis and 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu and figures of Brahma, Saraswathi, Harihara, Haygriva, Jalasayana and so on. The names of the deities are engraved in characters of the Hoysala period on the lintels of the doorways though in some cases we find other images substituted for the original ones," according to the gazette.

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