Bid to save 1000yr old Mallikeshwarar Temple in Chennai

Bid to save 1000yr old Mallikeshwarar Temple in Chennai
(Source : Indian Express -

A residents advocacy group in Ashok Nagar has stepped in to protect an
ancient temple in the area from being demolished, to pave way for the
Chennai Metro Rail. The group, 'Citizens Guardians', has launched a
campaign on a war footing by putting up posters at key locations to save
the Mallikeshwarar Temple, which is believed to be around 1,000 years old.

"The temple is extremely popular and has huge crowds thronging it on
auspicious days. It is said that the great Siddha saint Thopa Swamigal
offered prayers to the lingam here 600 years ago. The authorities decided
to knock a part of this temple down without even consulting the public,"
says V Ravichandran, founder chairman of Citizens Guardian.
He noted that no public hearing had been held over the alignment of the
Metro Rail line, and that no elected representative had taken part in the
Environmental Impact Assessment meeting either.

A visit to the temple validates the concerns of Ravichandran and his
colleagues. The pillars of the Metro line are barely 40 feet away from the
temple. Locals also say that the CMRL authorities drew a line through one
of the shrines in the temples, earmarking the area for a station.

This prompted Citizens Gurdians to take up the matter with all seriousness.
They pasted posters outside important government offices. They also
displayed their posters outside the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments
Departnment and the Old and New Secretriats.

"We feel it was wrong of the HR&CE to have given up the temple premises to
CMRL in the first place. But the posters drew a reaction from the
department and the officials asked us to be a part of the discussion with
CMRL officials," says Ravichandran.
He expressed hope that the new government would act decisively to save the
temple. "The previous government had kept mum on the issue. But the new
chief minister J Jayalalithaa has an image of being a religious person.
While that alone need not be the rationale to save the temple, I am sure
its antiquity and popularity will also be taken into account," says

He also pointed out that a number of heritage structures, like Ripon
Building and Victoria Hall, apart from many parks developed on Open Space
Reservation land by the Chennai Corporation, had been given up to the CMRL,
that too without proper public consultation. "It is not just the
Mallikeshwarar Temple, but all these other heritage structures that need to
be preserved," says Ravichandran.

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