The temple is said to be more than hundred years old. It is located on a hundred feet tall hill which is spread over 13.24 acres of land belonging to Forest. The temple is located in Thalavaipatti Panchayat area. Here Salem branch of Aavin has a milk dairy. The hill is just opposite to Aavin office. The Aavin management has taken over the land for 99 year lease and it has been under its control since 1983.
Santhosh, who is the zonal president of Hindu Munnani told this correspondent that devotees of Lord Siva conduct poojas regularly. Special poojas are done on Pradosham (on every Chaturdasi) and abhishekams to deity on every new moon and full moon days. In earlier days, people who took pilgrimage to Madheswaran temple (MM Hills) in Karnataka, would first make a ‘sankalp’ here. Over the years, locals come to the temple and pray regularly.
Trouble started when a new General Manager of Aavin, Vijay Babu took charge at this branch. He put up notice boarding warning devotees not to go to the temple and perform pooja or pray. “The land is under Aavin control. Trespassers will be prosecuted”, warns the notice board. Hindu Munnani alleges that the new GM is a converted Christian and hence wants to hurt sentiments of Hindu devotees. It is also alleged that the GM is related to the speaker of the Tamil Nadu Assembly.
Santosh said three months ago someone tried to set fire to the dress of deities. Based on CCTV footage, local police arrested a person who turned out to be mentally unstable. He was let off and the case was closed. Hindu Munnani had objected to closing of the case. Hindu Munnani alleges that the Police are in the habit of closing the case whenever Hindu temples are under attack and they simply say the culprit is a mentally challenged person. This year during Maha Shivaratri, Hindu devotees were not allowed to do the pooja at the temple.
On seeing the notice board and threats to devotees, Hindu Munnnani held a meeting with locals. Santhosh said Hindu Munnani confronted the new Aavin GM during a meeting with the officials to sort out the issue. GM Vijay Babu informed them about a grand plan of setting up of a milk parlour at the hill top, a mini park at the base of hill, and a herbal garden. During the meeting, the Aavin management assured them that Madheswaran temple would be renovated and they would bear the cost.
However, two weeks ago, miscreants torched the temple leaving the stone idols on open ground. Police, which registered a case against unknown persons, have assured them that after the lock down was lifted, they would arrest the culprits. The asked Hindu Munnani not to protest.
Santhosh informed that they have made a representation to the District Magistrate last month and no action was taken so far. Locals suspect that it was the handiwork of Aavin GM who through his henchmen did this mischief, as he had been objecting to the prayers at the temple.