The Someswarar temple, known for its architectural significance and historical importance, is a glaring example of the overall poor maintenance of temples under the HR and CE. Despite the government’s emphasis on collecting funds and increasing donations from devotees in well-known temples, the plight of the Someswarar temple underscores the disconnect between rhetoric and action.
According to reports from Tamil Daily Dinamalar, the Someswarar temple, located 13 kilometers from Karur, holds a rich history dating back over 1500 years. The temple’s architecture follows the tula linga structure, reminiscent of the famous Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur. Inscriptions reveal that the village was originally named Thirunombalur, with the deity being Thirunombalur Mahadevar. Constructed during the reign of Parantaka Chozha-I, subsequent contributions were made by Rajaraja-I and Rajendra-I. The earliest inscription dates back to the 6th year of Parantaka Chozha-I’s rule.
Despite its historical significance, the temple has suffered from neglect, with its vimana (tower) originally built with bricks, gradually deteriorating over time. The temple’s condition highlights the urgent need for restoration and preservation efforts.
Dating back almost 1,100 years, the Someswarar Temple’s architecture, pre-dating the famed Thanjavur Big Temple, speaks to its early Chola origins. The sanctum sanctorum, distinct in structure, features a larger edifice for the main deity, Someswarar, while the Artha Mandapam (front hall) is comparatively smaller. Additionally, a significant Ganesha idol accompanies the main deity, and Manonmani Ambal, a manifestation of the Divine Mother, resides in the Artha Mandapam.
The temple is recognised as a Chandran Parihara Sthalam, believed to have alleviated a curse on the moon (Chandran) according to Karuvur Purana. It is also notable for symbolising Lord Shiva’s eyes as Agni (center), Chandran (left eye), and Suryan (right eye). Nearby temples at Vaangal (Ravishwarar – Suryan) and Nerur Agneeswarar represent all three eyes, forming a unique trio.
Despite its historical and religious significance, the Someswarar Temple is currently in a dilapidated state, with greenery overtaking its structure and visible cracks. The main towers lack Kalasams, and broken idols lie on the ground. The HR and CE’s alleged disregard for upkeep is evident, with minimal daily puja support from the local community.
Past attempts at renovation in 2010, including constructing separate shrines and improving infrastructure, remain incomplete, with the Kumbabhishekam (consecration ceremony) pending. Devotees express frustration, accusing the HR and CE of preventing them from participating in renovations and consecrations.
The deteriorating condition of temples in Tamil Nadu has drawn national attention, with Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman alleging temple property theft and international selling. TN BJP Chief K Annamalai echoed concerns, claiming inadequate maintenance and selective temple demolitions since the DMK assumed power, accusing the government of diverting funds for commercial complexes.
VIDEO | "Temples are not maintained properly. Especially since DMK has come into power, demolition of selective temples has been done. They take money from the temples and build commercial complex," says BJP leader @annamalai_k.
(Full video available on PTI Videos -… pic.twitter.com/e680U2RRNB
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) November 25, 2023
In response to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s accusations regarding the alleged theft and selling of temple properties, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin defended the DMK-led Dravidian model government, stating that Rs 5,500 crore worth of temple property had been successfully recovered.
Stalin, addressing the allegations, emphasised that under the Dravidian model government, significant efforts had been made to reclaim temple properties, amounting to a substantial financial recovery. He urged those with genuine devotion to appreciate the government’s initiatives in preserving and restoring temple assets.
In a pointed remark, Stalin remarked, “If they have devotion, then they should appreciate the DMK government for recovering these properties. However, their devotion is merely a daytime act designed to deceive people.”
The Chief Minister’s response comes amid a contentious debate surrounding the management and preservation of temple properties in Tamil Nadu. As the political discourse intensifies, the conflicting narratives from state and central leaders underscore the deep-seated concerns regarding the state of religious and cultural heritage in the region
The dire state of the Someswarar temple serves as a wake-up call, prompting questions about the government’s commitment to safeguarding the cultural and religious heritage embedded in these ancient structures. As concerns grow over the preservation of such invaluable sites, the spotlight is now on the HR and CE’s responsibilities and their efficacy in fulfilling their mandate.