3 October 2008

Temple Museum

A museum featuring various aspects of the history of the Arunachaleswarar Temple will be set up in the Thousand Pillar Hall of the Temple. As well as the historical aspect, it is hoped that the museum will give an opportunity to the devotee and visitor to view the unique sculpture of the Hall.

The foyer, situated near the Raja Gopuram of the Temple, which houses the Thousand Pillars with their wonderful sculptures was once used as warehouse by the Tamil Nadu Civil Supply Corporation and for a long time was filled with bags of rice that were said to harbour a large infestation of rats! When the Government vacated the warehouse it was turned into a resting shed for Temple elephant Rukku. A few years ago Rukku moved to a Hall near Thirumanjana Gopuram.

Traditionally there are only two occasions in the year when one was able to enter the Thousand Pillar Hall, i.e. Ani Thirumanjanam and the Arudhra darshan Festival. Due to the influence of art lovers and concerned parties the Government decided last year to establish a Museum in this Mandapam. At that time the Temple administration sent a letter to the Commissioner of Museums seeking suggestions on the setting up of a Museum. Acting on this request the Commissioner visited the Mandapam and thereafter sent detailed recommendations to the Temple authorities.

Subsequently engineers were consulted and the task of setting up the first phase of the Museum was handed over to the District Building Centre. According to Temple authorities 8,000 square feet in the western side of the Mandapam is to be utilized for the first phase. In this phase pillars will be stone varnished and separate enclosed rows devoted to different themes i.e.; paintings, portraits, wood carvings and stone sculptures. In this respect a section of 108 portraits representing different dance postures of Lord Shiva will be on display.

It is proposed that unprotected objects of antique value found in other Temples in Tamil Nadu will be diverted to the Arunachaleswarar Temple Museum. The first phase of this work is estimated at Rs.15 Lakh. Temple authorities have assured devotees that the Museum will be opened as soon as possible.


Robert Smythe said...

Looking forward to more information about this Museum. Also when you have time appreciated an update on Rukku the elephant. How is she doing? Remember the story about her sore feet.

Meenakshi Ammal said...

Things are not too happy with Rukku. The 'standing' space she is allowed all through the day while she blesses devotees for coins (for her handler) is shrinking and getting noisier. Right next to her is a video/music booth that plays LOUD music all day. Its all very sad. Will report more news soon on this.