Koothankulam Mahadeva Temple, Kerala is on the verge of collapse needs urgent conservation

Koothankulam  Mahadeva temple bennykuriakose.com

Above image:  The Koothankulam Mahadeva temple, Ernakulam district:  This humble-looking temple with eye catching wooden work is  a victim of long- drawn legal battle between the state government agency and a private trust. Though the govt. agency won  the litigation, this temple is still rotting due to official apathy and neglect.  Look at the growth of mildew on the tiled portion of one of the oldest temples in Kerala. ............................

Koothankulam  Mahadeva temple.commons.wikimedia.org/

Koothattukulam  Municipal town  in  Taluk  of  Ernakulam district is about  50 km south east of Kochi City, 17 km to the south of Muvattupuzha  and 35 km east of Kottayam.  There is an old Hindu temple dedicated to Mahadeva (sree Shiva)  which is not in good shape. It is one among the 108 famous Shiva temples  of  Kerala. It is a rare site to see God Shiva, his consort Parvathi and their sons  Subramanian and Ganapati under one roof. 

Koothankulam  Mahadeva temple facebook

Above image: Koothankulam sree Mahadeva temple  front entrance. It has become a ramshackle temple.  The 1000 year old  shrine is nearly on the verge of collapse.  In spite of its poor condition poojas are held regularly in the temple. The Kochi Devaswom Board is managing the temple .............................

Because of prolonged  legal battle between the Sivaswom Trust  and  Travancore Devaswom Board over the control of the temple, this place of worship has been in a dilapidated condition  for a long time  with damaged roof tiles, wooden frames, doors  and carvings on the wall and ceiling,  The walls seem to have not seen at least one coat of whitewash in the past several years. In some places on the slanting tiled roof one can see vegetation and thick cover of mildew. 

Koothankulam near Ernakulam. keralakerala.com

It is so bad today this shrine is on the  verge of  total collapse from which redemption is impossible. The central government and the Devaswom have allocated  funds  for  renovation. That why does the temple stand abandoned is the question people here are asking.   The natives of this place do not want to see the destruction of this rare temple right   under their very nose because of ego clash between two warring sides.  

A   few days ago I read an article by Benny  Kuriakose Associates who way back in 2011 made a proposal to  the government to renovate the decaying temple and they also posted several images of various damaged parts of the temples (please see them below). 

Upon seeing images of dying Shiva temple  I was very much saddened  by the fact the people involved in the legal wrangle were more interested in wielding power over the temple than preserving  and safeguarding it for the posterity. At stake is the long cherished legacy  and ethos of this region. Among the Indian states Kerala is in the forefront to preserve its native arts, culture and architecture. It is quite disappointing that here is an old temple with amazing woodwork, etc that is facing slow death on account of two  disagreeable  sides who don't want to make a compromise. Though the temple having been taken over by the Devaswom Board  in  the past as of today there is no semblance of  any  action linked to basic  repairs  cleaning the surrounding places and renovation notwithstanding the fact that almost 10 years have gone by since the proposal was made by  Benny Kuriakose Associates in 2011. 

From several perspectives historical, cultural, architectural and archaeological Shree Mahadeva temple  has been an integral part of this place.  The impressive timber carvings, inspiring wood work, wooden roof frames  and old mural paintings bear testimony to the skilled craftsmen of the past era.  

Maharajah Marthanda Varma of Travancore. ndianetzone.com

It is mentioned that King  Marthanda Varma (1706-1758), the    "founder of Kingdom of Travancore" upon his victory over  Vadakkumkur,  donated lots of gold to  Ettumanoor  Temple and  granted lands to  Vaikom Mahadeva temple.  Besides,  he undertook the renovation of Sree Mahadeva temple in Koothattukulam. The wood work was done by traditional  “thachans” of his period. It is of interest to know Maharajah Marthanda varma took special care and renovated Sree  Padmanabhaswami temple in Thiruvananthapuram. 

Quite amazing is the way the artisans meticulously carried out the wood work on the ceilings - the ten incarnations of Mahavishnu is a fine piece of wood work.  The nicely carved  ceiling  resembles  like  a heaven.   The carvings of lotus  is carefully done  and reminds  us of  Padmanabhan or the lotus bearer himself.   The wood used appears to be of high quality and there are no signs of aging or damages as of to day. However, they need to be cleaned and given a fresh coat of special varnish. 

It is said the entire intricate wood work of this temple was done under the guidance of   master craftsmen. The timber carving of the gable  at  the entrance gate - Padippura  has the look of a small door and is flanked by two Dwarapalakas (sentinels) on both the sides. The carvings here  appear to be similar to those  in Thiruvattar Adikesava.

The following are damaged part of  Koothankulam  Mahadeva temple, Kerala:

Photo credit:  bennykuriakose.com

Koothankulam  Mahadeva temple.bennykuriakose.com

Above image: The Srikovil/garbagriha or sanctum   with traditional Kerala style roof  covered with Mangalore tiles appears to be  circular  in shape  (Vatta Sreekovil)  and it is not well taken care of.  The srikovil (sanctum sanctorum) roof is covered with  with copper sheets which need repair. The gable has detailed carvings while columns have a shaft and a base. The roof has timber purlins and rafters to support either the Mangalore tiles or the copper sheets. Srikovil  is adorned with  mural paintings of various hues like red, orange, yellow, green colors, etc. The colors were extracted from vegetables and they look faded because of time factor. 

Koothankulam  Mahadeva temple.bennykuriakose.com

Above image: Koothankulam  Mahadeva temple:  Only the skeleton of wooden frame with no roof cover. The teak wood rafters and studs appear to be in good nick highlighting the quality of wood used in the past. 

Koothankulam  Mahadeva temple .bennykuriakose.com

Above image: Koothankulam  Mahadeva temple: The angled roof and the wood frames in the  fa├žade appear faded with no fresh coat of varnish. The  edges of the front  projection  show sings of wear and tear. The first floor ventilation  and the tiled portion below the window need repair.

Mahadeva temple K.kulam. wood carvings,bennykuriakose.com

Wood work in the ceilings Balikal mandapam or altar.bennykuriakose.com

Koothankulam  Mahadeva temple .bennykuriakose.com

Koothankulam  Mahadeva temple Damaged wooden reapers.bennykuriakose.com

Koothankulam  Mahadeva temple .damaged roof/ tiles bennykuriakose.com

Koothankulam  Mahadeva temple .hall abetting the window.bennykuriakose.com

damage entrance tower.Koothankulam  Mahadeva templebennykuriakose.com