15 March 2007

Temple Museum

The Thousand Pillar Hall in Tiruvannamalai Arunachaleswarar Temple, kept closed throughout the year despite its sculptural richness, will now house a Museum which will feature various aspects and information about the Temple.

The Thousand Pillar Hall, situated near the Raja Gopuram of the Arunachaleswarar Temple, possesses carved stone pillars, and once served as a rice warehouse for the Tamil Nadu Civil Supply Corporation. After that use was abandoned the Hall was then used to house the Temple elephant. Since the time the elephant was given other housing, the Thousand Pillar Hall has remained locked and used only during the annual 'Arudhra Darshan' festival, when it was opened for the murti of Lord Nataraja to give 'darshan' to thousands of devotees, waiting outside the Hall.

As interested parties were worried about the plight of the Thousand Pillar Hall which is believed to have been constructed during the Krishnadevaraya period, (early 16th Century) the Government proposed to establish a Museum in the Mandapam. The Temple administration has sought suggestions on the setting up of the museum from the Commissioner of Museums, and as a consequence detailed recommendations have been given to the Temple authorities.

In the report, it has been recommended, that the proposed Museum should be set up utilising 12,700 sq ft (nearly half) of the Hall featuring hundreds of bronze, metallic and wooden objects, small stone sculptures, portraits collected by the Temple administration and a model of the temple. Also a sculpture garden could be set up in 8,400 sq ft land near the Hall, in which old stone-carved Temple works could be exhibited.

The proposed Museum work would need funding of about Rs.50 Lakhs.

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