• Magazine Web Edition
  • January/February/March 2020
  • Special Feature: Tiruketheeswaram Temple
  • Special Feature: Tiruketheeswaram Temple




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    ALL PHOTOS: SUTHANANTH KETHEESWARANATHAN


    The main entrance, with new construction in progress to the left and right. The original Nandi sits in the small shrine in front




     


    Tiruketheeswaram Temple


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    Four hundred years after its destruction, the temple extolled by the ancient Tamil saints rises once again in ornate granite


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    FEW HINDU TEMPLES ARE AS TIED INTO HINDU religious history as Tiruketheeswaram. It is named after the planetary being Ketu, who performed penance here for stealing the Gods’ amrita, the nectar of immortality produced during Samudra Mantham, the churning of the ocean. Ram Setu, the land bridge connecting India and Lanka, built by Lord Rama’s army of monkeys to rescue Sita from Ravana, reaches Lanka at this point. And, aptly for our story, this place is associated with Vishwakarma, the Divine Architect responsible for all construction—from houses, cities and forts to the great temples throughout India and Lanka. His tradition lives on today in the sthapatis (master builders) and silpis (artisans) responsible for erecting and repairing the holy shrines. Though its historicity and sanctity are undisputed, Tiruketheeswaram Temple was totally obliterated by the Portuguese in 1589. Even its location was all but forgotten until the advent of Arumuga Navalar in the 19th century. Join our reporter, Anuradha Goyal, as she visits this ancient place and reports on the efforts to rebuild the great temple.




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    Selvanathan Sthapati with wife Ponni stand beside the temple’s original Sivalingam






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    Silpis at work with hammer and chisel shaping one of the new beams.





     



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