Deccan Chronicle

Invaluable art treasure at ancient Sri Ranganadha shrine in neglected state

Deccan Chronicle. | DC Correspondent

Published on: January 11, 2022 | Updated on: January 11, 2022

Another unique feature is the Addala Mandapam or hall of mirrors, in which costly Belgium mirrors are kept around an elevated seat

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. (DC File photo)

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple. (DC File photo)

Nellore: Invaluable gifts offered by devotees a few centuries ago to the historical shrine of Sri Talpagiri Ranganadha Swamy in Nellore are in a dilapidated condition.

Lack of knowledge of the management from time to time to properly maintain these precious items including Tanjore paintings is a major constraint in their preservation.

There are many unique aspects about the ancient shrine built during time of Rajaraja Narendra and Ubhayakulotthonga Chola in the 12th Century. Records show Jatavarma Sundarapandya donated lands to the temple in the 13th Century.

One of the special features is that the presiding deity faces to the west in a sleeping posture, unlike other temples where the deities face the east.

Another unique feature is the Addala Mandapam or hall of mirrors, in which costly Belgium mirrors are kept around an elevated seat.

When the deity is centrally placed on the seat, hundreds of its images are reflected in the mirrors, giving an exquisite and breathtaking view.

Devotees also adore the painting of Lord Krishna (Vatapathra Sai) on the ceiling of the mandapam.

If eight persons stand at as many corners of the mandapam, each one feels as if the Lord stares at him or her.

There are also marvelous paintings of 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu as well as the Vaishnava saints.

The paintings have gold borders that shine when light falls on them.

The mandapam was built by Muppirala Chinna Narasimha Charyulu, a devotee of Lord Ranganadha, in the beginning of this century.

He also donated a five-metre silk cloth with Vishnu Sahasranamam (1000 mantras) that was woven with gold zari. While 750 mantras were woven in the cloth, the remaining 250 have been woven on the angavastram that covers the deity.

As many as 20 weaver families from Kanchi in Tamil Nadu had been brought to weave the silk cloth with Gold Zari in the 1920s. It took them eight years to weave all the mantras, temple chief priest Kidambi Jagannnadha Charyulu said.

However, over the years, the silk cloth has been damaged by the vagaries of weather. Paintings are peeling off in the hall of mirrors and they started to lose their sheen.

When the matter was brought to the notice of the new chairman of the temple, Elapaka Sivakumar Achary, he lamented over the sad plight of the precious gifts and paintings.

"I shall talk to archaeologists and personally go to the holy Sri Rangam shrine near Tiruchirapally in Tamil Nadu, which is similar to the Nellore shrine, to take their guidance in restoring/maintaining the paintings in the hall as well as the silk cloth with Gold zari," he said.

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