The chaotic state of Roya Gopura, Madurai - access roads need to be conserved

Chaotic Yezhu Kadal Roya Gopura (tower). Madurai

 The great ruler of Madurai Nayak Dynasty Tirumala Nayak (A.D. 1623 to 1659),  wanted to have a huge tower built on the premises of the famous Meenaskshi-Sundareswarar temple. Unfortunately, he could not complete the project after the construction of the tall entrance and four giant monolith pillar, the work had stopped in
the early stage. Later rulers did not touch the work left behind by Thiumalai Nayak.  Though the  incomplete work was in the earliest stage, it is a good example of nayak rulers' architectural and sculptural splendor, a symphony in stone. This place  is known
as the  arena for two of the 64 divine sports (in Tamil Thiruvilayadalkal) of Lord Siva.

Street view from Roya Gopura, Madurai Commons wikipedia.prg

The entrance to the incomplete Roya Gopura in on  Ezhu Kadal Street  which has become a mini bazaars with hawkers selling their wares at the entrance, blocking the view of the temple.  Roya Gopura has been rendered into a  neglected piece of history due to sheer negligence and scant regard for our past history by the temple authority.  Mythologically speaking it is the place where the consort of Lord Shiva Goddess Meenakshi appeared from the sacred fire as ''Thadathagai'' during the yagam performed by Malathuvaja Pandian and Kanchanamala.

Unfinished Roya Gopuram (1858), Madurai, pinrest. com

At loss is the divinity of this place of worship because of the presence of rows of shops on either side starting right from the entrance to the incomplete Roya Gopura on  the Ezhu Kadal street.
This street comes alive during the major temple festival event and it is on this street  Goddess Meenakshi fights kings on her ‘dik vijayam’and finally meets Lord Shiva during the Chitirai festival, held in the month of April to May. The Tirukalyanam (wedding)  of Goddess Meenakshi with Lord Sundareswarar takes place following day. On this  famous festive occasion this street that is decorated with lights  is crowded with devotees  who enjoy  watching  the procession of deities.

Roya Gopura, Madurai. encroachments. Commons

It is said that  Ezhu Kadal Street owes  its name to a small temple tank that is said to have contained water from seven oceans. As the temple tank began to dry over a period of time, the State government and the temple administration HR &CE, not paying any  attention to neither the divinity nor the historical importance of this place,  came up with a big  shopping complex on it. Thus in this complex lost the legacy of Nayak rulers and their religious belief.
Yet another grievance expressed by shop owners and others is the conservationists whose priority is to clean the big streets around the temple, should  also  focus on  the narrow one-way street - Yezhu Kadal street and others around the Roya Gopura that need elaborate cleaning. They are full of shops and the traffic is chaotic with no proper regulation.

The  Ezhu Kadal street is an important part of not only history associated with the Roya gopura, a great Nayak monument. The shops near  and along the entrance  walls literally spoil the heritage value of such wonderful creation, blocking their view.  Normally, the Government should restrict human activities as mush as possible  close to the heritage structures/  monuments. In Tamil Nadu and elsewhere, the temples and monuments are encroached upon by shop keepers and hawkers and at stake is the historical values of the monuments. The government should keep the surrounding areas clean and free from shops, etc. The monuments that carry the frozen history   need to be accessed  without any hindrance by the tourists and others. Local bodies should get the opinion of the people who are part of the society and, being stake holders, they deserve to be heard.