Sri Erumbeeswarar temple (Malai Kovil), Thiruverumbur, TN - encroachment in the heritage site is an eyesore

 The Chola-built rock-cut temple, Sri Erumbeeswarar temple in Thiruverumbur near Trichy, is  a popular one but it is quite deplorable that it has been  in a state of neglect again for a long time without maintenance  either by the  ASI which controls the temple. or  State govt agency HR & CE  which is in charge of managing the affairs of the temple. 

In April, 2016  cleaning operation was done by the Trichy City Corporation (TCC), covering  several heritage sites as it was done across India and the workers  removed garbage, eatables, plastic, vegetation, etc  at this temple of great antiquity. 

In November 2016,  ''The Hindu'' reported on the poor condition of    Sri Erumbeeswarar temple where many parts were in a pathetic  condition with cracks on the walls of the inner prakarams due to seepage. So were the portions like Palli arai near Sri Nadunkuzhal Nayaki shrine, main  temple  ceiling.  ‘Nandavanam, the garden with many slowly dying  flowering plant species, damaged  compound on the temple tank embankment and concrete pillars supporting the  illuminated hoarding ‘Siva Siva’ were sore to the eye. 

Though a classified historical monument, within the radius of 100 meters, several buildings, mostly houses have come up and it bears testimony to  how laws related to monuments are being violated by the people and the careless attitude of the ASI. The Central Government has declared upto 100 meters from the protected limits to be prohibited area and further beyond it up to 200 meters to be regulated area for purposes of both mining operation and construction. The protected monuments include  temples, cemeteries, inscriptions, tombs, forts, palaces, step-wells, rock-cut caves, and even objects like cannons and mile pillars that may be of historical significance.  Further, Article 49 of the Constitution of India contains provisions relating to the State's obligation to protect cultural heritage. The said article is as under: “49. Protection of monuments and places and objects of national importance.

Several years ago The Tourism Department and the City Corporation,  had taken up beautification project all along the tank at an estimate of Rs. 45 lakh; part of the work became damaged. Efforts were afoot to improve the Girivalam path around the hill. 

In June 2021 responding to a PIL the Madurai Branch of the Madras High Court  directed the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) and the HR & CE  to remove the encroachers from the lands belonging to the temple  at Thiruverumbur near Trichy city.  “If the temple car cannot be taken on a perambulation (Pradakshina path) around the temple and along the car street, it is a very shameful'',  hon'ble justices said.  There are two categories of encroachments - encroachment a property under the ASI and of properties under the temple authorities (HR & CE).  

The authorities squarely blamed the encroachers  who blatantly violated the monuments laws and despite steps taken by the authorities  had dragged on the matter for several decades and continued to squat on the temple property without any shame or fear of god. The Madurai High Court branch instructed the authorities to speed up the removal of  encroachment near the monument and specifically ordered the HR & CE commissioner to monitor the emerging situation. ASI has already initiated steps to remove the encroachers and making efforts to  renovate the temple 7th to 8th century CE temple that has lots of stone inscriptions. on the inner prakara walls.  According to the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR and CE) sources, they  had sent a proposal to the ASI to take up repair and maintenance work so that the ‘maha kumbhabhishekam’ could be performed sooner after major renovation work. 

Malai Kovil near

               Sri Erumbeeswarar temple in Thiruverumbur near Tiruchi.

Above images Top: The Chola-built rock-cut temple dedicated to Sri Erumbeeswarar in Thiruverumbur on the Tiruchi - Thanajavur national highway. Bottom: Several years ago before encroachment........................  

temple tank. Erumbeeswarar Temple in Thiruverumbur

Erumbeeswarar Temple in Thiruverumbur en.wikipedia.or

Above image: The temple built on a small hill about 60 feet in height from ground level by Aditya Chola centuries ago.  has a number of  stone inscriptions mainly from the Chola period.  A tank dedicated to the temple remains polluted.  Quite painful is the fact that with vast urbanization  and  the growth of many residential colonies  in and around  Thiruverumbur,  the temple tank water gets polluted by the  sewage water. The city council has to take urgent steps to rectify it or it may cause many health  issues.................................