Chennai: In a first-of-its-kind effort, an Amman temple located along the Ambur–Vaniyambadi Road near Vellore that was to be demolished due to highway expansion work is being lifted from its present location and shifted 40 feet away from the highway.
The Sree Aadhi Bethaballi Gangai Amman temple is located at Ayyanur village about 230 kilometers from here. In 2000, state highways department demolished a portion of the temple land for expanding the Ambur– Vaniyambadi road. Although the temple committee members vehemently protested against the demolition, they could not stop it.
The temple management committee has been a worried lot since then and believed that some curse had befallen the shrine. “This temple is very popular in the locality and the deity is worshiped by all villagers. When a portion of the temple was demolished, the locals believed that it would bring them ill luck,” said R. Moorthy, president of the temple trust.
Just as the temple management and devotees were recovering from the destruction and renovated the temple fully at a huge cost, they received another notice from the NHAI that the temple would have to be further demolished to pave way for a six-lane highway.
“We were really upset and shared the news with the devotees. They suggested that we decide by lot on whether we should allow the demolition or retain the structure and move to a new location. The chit that was drawn, which we believe is the divine intervention, suggested that the shrine be kept intact and moved to a new destination,” said Moorthy.
After it was agreed upon to move the shrine, the temple trust management purchased a private plot measuring 80 by 40 feet that was located 40 feet behind the present location for Rs 7 lakhs and engaged engineers from TDBD Private Limited, a Haryana-based structure relocation firm. “The only concern for us was the huge cost of relocating the shrine,” Moorthy said.
But surprisingly for the temple trust, their financial woes melted away one after another. “The engineers agreed to relocate the temple to its new destination for a meager Rs 2.5 lakhs as it was for a public cause. Soon after, we received a compensation of Rs. 10.40 lakhs from the NHAI, all within a span of a few weeks as if it was divine intervention,” Moorthy said.
On January 1, 2014, a team of 20 engineers began the work of uprooting the decades-old temple to its new location. The relocation is expected to be over in a little more than a fortnight.