[GHHF] Sri Bhavanarayana Temple Rajagopuram COLLAPSED in Bapatla AP; Total negligence by the Government; repeated appeals by local Hindus ignored
Date: November 02, 2011
“This is the ancient land, where wisdom made its home before it went into any other country… Here is the same India whose soil has been trodden by the feet of the greatest sages that ever lived… Look back, therefore, as far as you can, drink deep of the eternal fountains that are behind, and after that look forward, march forward, and make India brighter, greater, much higher, than she ever was.” Swami Vivekananda
In India, Hindu Temples are the architectural wonders that are unique to Hindu religion. Their designs, their proportions, their carvings, their heights, their sizes, their scales, their inscribed Deities, their entrances, their doors and their beauty are unmatched. Many kings have taken pride in the construction of these Temples and the Rajagopurams to make the Hindus proud of their religion, their culture and architecture. For many centuries these Temples are the center of activities for the villagers. It provided opportunity for a number of people to participate in the daily activities. It was a center of cultural, social, religious, spiritual, literary, and artistic activities supporting and sustaining the principles of harmony in every aspect of Sanatana Dharma.
The thought of a Hindu Temple, the architecture, the presiding deities, the pujas, the rituals, the celebration of festivals and the chanting of mantras evoke feeling of reverence, respect, religiosity, spirituality, blissfulness, sacredness and sanctity. Unlike any other religious edifices, Hindu Temple symbolizes the presence and power of Gods and Goddesses. They are installed by a process known as pranaprathishta – invoking the prana (life) into the presiding deities. The place of the temple, the exact position of the Temple, positioning of the Deities, the proportions of the Deities, dimensions of the Temple, and construction of the Temple are based on Vastu Sashtra which is highly scientific. The Hindu Temple is like a miniature Cosmos.
Sri Bhavanarayana Temple in Bapatla, Andhra Pradesh Collapsed.
On October 23, 2011 Bhavanarayana Temple in Bapatla, Guntur District in AP hit the DUST in the early morning hours. Fortunately there were no casualties. This unique Temple is believed to have been built by Chola king Kimikantha about 1500 years ago. This is one of the rare Temples known to have the ceiling of the Garbhagudi (the room where Deities are installed) built with Granite stone. Also the Shikara / Vimana on top of the Garbhagudi is also built with Granite stone instead of using cement, sand and bricks.
About 500 years ago, the 75 feet Rajagopuram was built in front of the main Temple. Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu of Amaravathi Kingdom renovated this Temple in 1865. In 1945, Temple came into the purview of Endowment Department. Around 1960, Archeological Society of India (ASI) took over the Temple. ASI must approve any repairs or modifications. Many local residents have noticed cracks on the structure and reported to the local Temple authorities. Failing to see any improvements, agitated, frustrated and annoyed over the deterioration of the Rajagopuram they have been appealing to the Endowment Department for the last three years to address the matter.
The Temple authorities report that they have requested the help of ASI to inspect and suggest the renovations based on their guidelines. ASI sent several teams to submit the proposals to the renovations. Endowment Department says that ASI did not allow them to take up even minor modifications to this historical structure without their approval. In the meanwhile, R. Chenna Reddy, Director of State Archeology Department criticized the Endowment Departments for not allowing the archeology department officials to monitor the structure.
Past Endowments Minister Visits the Collapsed Rajagopuram
Following the collapse of the Rajagopuram, local MP Sri J D Seelam and local MLA Sri Gade Venkata Reddy visited the Temple and promised to take immediate steps for rebuilding the Rajagopuram. He himself was saying that the government’s apathy and inefficiency caused this collapse. Imagine the Ex-minister saying some thing like this. How can an average Hindu do to bring changes? All the Hindus speaking in ONE VOICE can bring any number of changes. Let us pray that it will happen soon.
The tragedy is that Sri Gade Venkata Reddy was the Minister in charge of Endowment Departments until about a year ago. He represents the constituency of Bapatla. He must have received all the reports about the deterioration of the structure and the local appeals for the renovation. Since he is from this area, he should have known this Temple and the deteriorating condition of the Temple. He is not a stranger to this area. He is part of it. He represents this city. He must have seen with his own eyes as to what was happening to this structure when he was a Minister. Why did he not take immediate and proper steps to preserve it? What prevented him to take necessary action to restore it? Would they ever realize that once the historical structures are allowed to collapse, they cannot recreate the history and recreate the structure with the original spirit? As John Ruskin said that, “It is impossible, as impossible as to raise the dead, to restore anything that has ever been great or beautiful in architecture. That which I have... insisted upon as the life of the whole, that spirit which is given only by the hand and eye of the workman, can never be recalled.”
Current Endowment Minister in USA
Sri Ponnala Lakshmaiah, the current Endowment Minister is in the United States for the last one month. On November 28 he attended TANA’s Meet and Greet function. Since TANA’s 19th Conference will be held in Dallas, Texas, TANA echelon was meeting that weekend. One of the Global Hindu Heritage Foundation members met with Sri P Lakshmaiah and explained very briefly about their organization. Discussion started about the disproportionate demolition of Hindu Temples compared to Mosques and Churches. The discussion stopped abruptly within less than a minute by Sri Lakshmaiah saying that GHHF member can write an email and express their concerns. He gave his Visiting Card and left.
At the time of this writing an email was sent requesting him to give an appointment to meet with him to discuss about the management of Hindu Temples in Andhra Pradesh. Request was also made to give an opportunity to talk to him on the phone. GHHF will be waiting for his response.
How Come these Hindu Ministers would not even question the Endowment Act?
Many Hindu politicians and Ministers remain mum, silent, quiet and dumb about the plight, destruction, demolition and dilapidation of Hindu Temples. They never even question as to why only Hindu Temples are taken over by the government? They are part of the sinister plan to get rich by either encroaching Temple lands illegally, acquiring these lands at lowest price possible, siphoning off the Temple funds, or engaging in heinous corrupt practices. Overwhelming majority of the ruling party members and some other party members would not even call themselves as Hindus with the pretext that it is secular state. They see the Muslims and Christian politicians declare their faith openly. But none of the majority of the current government politicians has guts to challenge them or criticize them. Why do they remain silent and mortgage their culture, their Temples and their country for their selfish gains.
All these politicians put their personal wealth above public welfare, personal political affiliations above the needs of the people, political favors above the history of the country, pleasing the leadership of their party above basic amenities of the local residents, and their secular credentials above their Hindu religious affiliation. They will go to any level to be subservient to the wishes of Christian and Muslim leadership. They are happy that they are able to rob the Temples and get rich along with other unchecked plundering of the national resources.
Sri Kamal Kumar Swamy visited the collapse Rajagopuram and Residents of Bapatla
Sri Kamal Kumar Swamy, the President of Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samithi, visited the collapsed Rajagopuram, met with the local residents, and also spoke to the media about this unfortunate event that erased the history of more than 500 years. He said the sentiments of all Hindus are hurt, their feeling are blunted, and their faith in the government has shaken. He said that Hindu Devalayam is not like a four wall building. It is built to provide the opportunities for Hindus to worship and show respect for the presiding deities. Since the government has taken over this Temple, the primary goal of the Endowments Department and State Archeology Department should have been the maintenance and protection of the ancient, historical Temples. Officials with faith in Hinduism and those who are sincere, honest and duty-bound should be in charge of these departments so that they would understand the significance of the Temples and the sentiments of the Hindus. The government officials should not use these Temples as business centers to make money and rob the resources. As long as these government officials lack integrity and awareness of the history and significance of these Temples, they will continue to neglect the management. As a result, these Temples will be collapsed, Utsav Murthies will be stolen, Temple land will be encroached, the priests would leave the Temples, the presiding deities will be unattended, and the sentiments of Hindus will be shattered.
Sri Kamal Kumar Swamy demanded the government should not only rebuild this Rajagopuram, it should also appoint s Special Committee to examine all the Hindu Temples to find out the conditions of these Temples, what measures they should take to preserve and protect the Temples. He demanded that the Archeology Department should be allowed to make decisions to preserve the Temples. If it says that the traffic should be diverted, the politicians should not interfere and over rule their decisions. The residents should not complain about the traffic if it is diverted and they should be willing to bear little inconvenience rather than destroying the historical Hindu Temples. He also observed that both Endowments Department and Archeology Department should work closely with more understanding focusing on the preservation of the Temples.
He also observed that some of the structures built by ancient shilpis had so much secret knowledge with unmatched, unsurpassed skills that the modern engineers are not able to comprehend. He gave an example of Warangal's thousand pillars Mantapam that was demolished few years ago. Now the engineers are not able to replicate and also not able to find out the secrets of building a similar structure. Hence, Sri Kamal Kumar Swamy argued that we should preserve our cultural heritage, the secrets of the construction, and the history of the Temples. The government should not be frivolous and irresponsible and make decisions without any appreciation for the heritage and grandeur of the Temples. Hence he said that the people are demanding the government to preserve, protect and maintain the Hindu Temples with utmost care and refrain from hurting the feelings of Hindu with their ignorance, indifference and negligence.
Possible reasons cited for the collapse
The original Rajagopuram does not have the traditional carvings of Gods and Goddesses on the structure. It was a kind of spiral structure with no images on it. In 1979, with the approval of ASI and the Endowments Department, with the donations from the local residents, they have attached a number of Deities on all sides of Rajagopuram causing more weight to the structure. Residents report that no body has studied the structural integrity at the time of renovation. It appears that no body even looked at whether the Rajagopuram would bear added weight put on by fixing the heavy images on the structure.
In addition to the heavy weight put on Rajagopuram, following reasons are given:
- Lot of construction is going on around the Temple area resulting in the digging of the area next to the Temple. Noise of drilling and closeness of digging are also given as the reasons.
- Flyover for railroad is being built close to the Temple presumably against the Archeology regulations.
- Heavy regular traffic on National Highway214 next to the Rajagopuram was also causing noise and creating vibrations affecting the structure.
- Although a number of Hindus complained about the cracks in the Rajagopuram for more than three years, nothing was done even to prevent the collapse. Endowments Department and Archeology departments blame each other for failure to act on time.
- Apathy, callous attitude, political lineages, bureaucracy, red tape, and utter negligence are attributed to this pathetic condition.
"In the past most of the conservation work initiated by conservation architects were not implemented by those who manage temples. In several cases engineers who do not have any idea of conservation guidelines are entrusted with such important work and instead of strengthening the structures, they end up weakening them," said Shobha Turaga, conservation activist from the city. She said that several temples have a delicate structures and using modern day materials like cement and mortar in their restoration would spell their doom. "This just weakens them further. We need to be careful with these structures while restoring them," she added.
TV5, TV9, ETV and other media have interviewed a number of local residents who were frustrated at the indifference of the authorities as well as with the authorities who lack technical knowledge to handle the situation.
Hindus Must be Awakened!
All Hindus whether they call themselves as secularists, atheists, communists, Marxists, or Hindus should work toward preserving and protecting their Hindu Temples. Before another Rajagopuram is collapsed, another Temple is demolished, another acre of land is encroached, another Utsav Murthy is stolen, and another Temple deity is broke, all Hindus and Hindu/ cultural organizations should demand the repeal of the Endowment Act forthwith. As of now they still have the freedom to express. But the freedom that they are enjoying now may be taken over if they do not get united to protect their religion, art, architectures, culture, Temples, scriptures, and way of life. Once they loose their freedom, it is very difficult to get it back; in fact it may be gone forever. Even if certain segment of Hindus cannot identify themselves as Hindus, they are already branded as such by the Christians, Muslims and the so-called secular government. The recent Bill called Communal Violence Bill, drafted by Sonia Gandhi and nine other committee members, put the blame solely and squarely on Hindus if there was any violence, aggression, or terror in the society. No Muslim or Christian will ever be blamed for any violence.
All the cultural organizations in the USA, and other foreign countries should take a lead in standing up for the preservation of their culture, religion, Hindu Temples, worship services and way of life. They should shed their indifference toward their religion and work toward preserving their rich cultural heritage. Sooner the realization, better it would be to retain the freedom of religion before it slips away in front of their eyes. They must wake up to restore the pride, dignity and grandeur of their religion. If they do not do it now, when would they do it? If they don’t do it, who will do it? If they don’t work to preserve their own culture, who will preserve it?
Following are the YouTube links about the collapse of Sri Bhavanarayana Temple Rajagopuram:
Sri Kamal Kumar Swamy’s visit to Bapatla:
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