Temple on the verge of collapse
PULICAT IS the name given to the area by the Dutch, who could not pronounce the Tamil name Pazhaverkadu, as the area was originally called. Years ago, in one of his lectures on AIR, Tamil scholar Dr. Ra. P. Sethupillai said that Pazhaverkadu had been so named because there had been a dense forest of vela trees in the area.
Pazhaverkadu is home to an ancient Vaishnava temple, which is on the verge of collapse. When one reaches Pazhaverkadu, there is a tollgate where one has to turn right if one is a bird watcher, but has to drive past the tollgate if one is visiting the temple.
We located the temple only to find it locked. The villagers were anxious to be of help, but were totally clueless about who had the keys to the temple. We almost gave up hope, when Ramu, a villager whose family has lived in the village for four generations, offered to help. He took us to the house of Rajendran, a retired military man. Rajendran did have the keys. But it was already 5 p.m.
``There are no lights in the temple. The temple has become the abode of snakes,'' he warned us. We wondered if we should turn back. When Rajendran opened the temple door, we realised he hadn't been exaggerating when he spoke about the condition of the temple. There were thorny bushes which tore at our clothes as we made our way to the main sannidhi.But what a treat awaited us! The pillars of the passage leading to the sanctum sanctorum had beautiful carvings of dancers and the dasavatara. On one of the pillars was a carving of a monkey eating a jackfruit. On another there was a carving of a mermaid. At the top of the wall close to the ceiling, scenes from the Ramayana had been carved, the figures not more than 6 to 8 inches in height. But what a wealth of detail there was in the tiny figures!
We flashed the torch around the sanctum sanctorum. Crouching in a corner was a mongoose, which was startled by this unexpected entry of humans. The deity was Adi Narayana Perumal, flanked by Sridevi and Bhoodevi. The utsavars had been removed to a newly built Varadaraja temple for safety reasons.
The Lord in this temple is seen in a standing posture, with the sankhu and chakra in his upper hands. His lower right hand is Abhaya hasta and the lower left hand rests on His thigh.
Outside the sannidhi is a small but beautiful idol, whose lower right hand is Varada hasta and whose lower left hand rests on the thigh. He too is flanked by Sreedevi and Bhoodevi. There is also an idol of Rama with Sita and Lakshmana. There was once a separate sannidhi for Rama to the right of the main sannidhi, which has now collapsed. The Rama idol is broken, and the bow and arrow are missing. The approach to the Thayar sannidhi is even worse. The Thayar is Pankajavalli, but it is now very dark and we were unable to see anything in the sannidhi. A colony of bats has made this sannidhi their home.
The bali peetam itself is a beautifully carved structure, with steps leading to the top of the bali peetam from all four sides. The roots of arasa trees have played havoc with this temple.
There is a separate sannidhi for Andal, but now it's pitch dark and the bushes that block the path to the Andal sannidhi are very high.
This temple was popular with the villagers and till 1988 a priest used to come from Ponneri and Laksharchnais, Navaratripuja and other pujas were conducted regularly. The last samprokshanam was in 1979.
The temple is rich in art but poor in property. It has only two acres of land in Thaangalperumpalam, a village that is a few miles away. The annual yield from this is insufficient for the maintenance of the temple. In fact, it is not even sufficient to pay for a priest.
The HR&CE must take control of the temple before it is completely destroyed.
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