With time even temples age. Many of our temples have slowly disintegrated and today stand only as ruins. A humble trust has been quietly working to preserve these lost icons of heritage in Karnataka. Read on to find out more.
Karnataka is known for its beautiful temples. According to one list, the state has almost 3000 temples devoted to Hindu deities and Jain Tirthankaras. Apart from these temples, there are a number of temples that lie in ruins as well.
A Trust in Karnataka has been quietly restoring many of these forgotten temples and breathing new life into them. Restoration of temples has been the focal point of the Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Dharmothana (SDMD) Trust for almost three decades. Their work has succeeded in bringing not one or two but over 200 temples to life.
- 224 temples restored by the trust till date
- For temples not under the PPP scheme, restoration costs are borne equally by the trust and locals
- Only temples that are more than 200 years old are eligible for restoration
- Address: 19, Shrutha Complex, Primrose Road, Bengaluru – 560025
- Phone: +91 80 2558 9012
The Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Dharmothana (SDMD) Trust
The trust was set up in 1991 with a mission to preserve and revive our ancient culture. The visionary for this trust, Dharmadhikari Shri Veerendra Heggade, realized that instead of restoring old temples, many temples were being broken down and replaced with new temples.
These structures did not have the grace or the architectural excellence of the temples they had replaced. Thus, the markers of the art and architectural development of dynasties that had ruled Karnataka were slowly being lost.
Along with temples, the trust has also been actively involved in the restoration of other monuments of historical and architectural significance. For their projects, they look out for non-living temples or temples that are not being maintained and have been left to nature’s mercy.
It has an advisory board of experts and eminent personalities and a team of retired archaeological professionals, historians, engineers, architects and sculptors who work together to restore a temple.
How is a Temple Chosen for Restoration?
To be eligible for restoration, a temple needs to be at least 200 years old. When villagers come across the ruins of a temple, they bring the dilapidated structure to the trust’s notice. A team is then sent to evaluate the ruins and confirm that it meets the criteria of the trust.
Once approved, the second team of experts and retired officials of the Archaeological Survey of India visit the site and prepare a report. This is processed by architects and engineers who estimate the cost of restoration and prepare drawings for the same. Parts of the temple that cannot be restored are rebuilt in the same style as the original structure. Once the designs are ready, an estimated work plan is created.
Every project begins with a Guddali Pooja. As the temple is restored, the project is documented in the form of photographs. These photographs serve as reference points and models of how other temples can be restored.
As the temple is being rebuilt, the engineers and architects try their best to follow the directions of the original structure and preserve the period details. The renovated structures are not only true to the original style of the temple but are also stronger. Dr. Heggade himself often visits the restoration sites.
Funding of the Restoration
It is interesting to note that in many cases the trust has spent only about one-fifth of the cost estimated by private companies to restore a temple. Though the trust has the funds, it does not bear the cost of renovation alone. Instead, the trust bears 50% of the cost and the remaining 50% is borne by the locals.
The reasoning here is that if the locals make a monetary contribution to the project they will have a sense of ownership towards it. This sense of ownership will ensure that the temple is maintained and look after.
SDMD and Karnataka Government Partnership
In 2001 the Karnataka government’s Ministry of Kannada and Culture recognized the work being done by the trust and formed the state’s first public-private partnership (PPP) model between the government and the trust.
Under this model the government would bear 40% of the cost of restoration, the trust would bear 40% of the cost and locals would bear the remaining 20%.
Not all the SDMD’s projects fall under this partnership. This is because the government has set a limit of Rs 80 lakh per annum to be allocated to the trust. They also have a limit of Rs 8-10 lakhs to be spent per project. Thus, only 10-12 temples can be restored each year under this model partnership. In the 18 years since its conception, 169 temples in 25 districts have been restored under this partnership.
The trust has restored 224 temples and Jain basadis across Karnataka. Some of the prominent restorations are:
- Sri Kalleshwara Temple of Kabbura in Haveri District
- Sri Malleshwara Temple Aghalaya, K R Pet Taluk, Mandya District
- Sri Chennakeshava Temple, Anekere Chennarayapatna Taluk, Hassan District
- Sri Sangameshwara Temple, Sindhaghatta, K.R.Pete Taluk, Mandya District
The Sri Kashivishveshwara Temple restoration project in Hosabudanuru, Mandya District was credited as one of the noteworthy entries for the 2012 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Preservation.
Would You Like to Help?
The trust welcomes help from philanthropists and socially conscious corporate groups. If you would like to contribute towards the restoration of Karnataka’s heritage, click here.