At a time when shops inside temple complexes are being criticised for cluttering the worship places and becoming fire hazards, the Chidambaram temple in the district has earned some pats on the back for having kept vendors off the compounds for all these years.
Following the major fire at the Meenakshi temple and a minor one at Thiruvelangadu temple, criticisms heaped upon the management, and there have been demands from several people, to remove shops from all temples.
The 51 acres on which the century-old Chidambaram Natarajar Temple stands is, however, seems pristine. The temple, which has been witnessing a steady increase in the number of visitors over the years, has not one shop inside the temple walls. V Venkatesa Deekshitar, from one of the families that manage the temple affairs, told Express that devotees could take an unobstructed view.
Moreover, people also use the temple compound for activities like walking or as a connecting point to other parts of the town. On weekdays, a number of school children take the temple route to reach their schools. They would be seen walking through the temple premises with their shoes and slippers in their hands.
On the Arudhra Day, one of the temple’s popular festivals held in January, it attracts lakhs of devotees from across the country. The hundred and thousand-pillared mandapams would be opened for such special occasions.
“The temple is completely managed by a trust and there are certain principles that are adhered to,” said Venkatesa Deekshitar, while pointing at the temple’s electrical lines that were overhauled. The 25 Gopurams are being renovated in phases.
Currently, works are underway at the Sakthi temple and the Subramaniam Swamy temple located at the far end of the temple compound.All the shops are located outside the temple complex, which is surrounded by a 25 feet high wall. Of these, most are traditional art and craft shops, which are managed by the municipal authorities.
A senior fire official said during festivals such as the Arudhra and Kumbhabhishekams, at least two fire tenders were kept on standby at the gates. Arrangements were also made for the seamless passage of vehicles should any untoward incident occur. All needed firefighting equipment were in place inside the temple, he added.
The complex and its simplicity
Spread over 51 acres, the temple forms the heart of the city. It is an ancient and historic temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Govindaraja Perumal.
A unique feature of this temple is the bejeweled image of Nataraja. It depicts the Lord Shiva as the Lord of dance Bharatanatyam. One of the few temples where Shiva is represented by anthropomorphic murthi rather than the Lingam.
Regular checks on the exhaust, fire and the places where Deepams and lights are lit are all carried out.
The exhaust of the temple is designed in such a way that they extend beyond the sanctum Santorum and Is well lit from all sides.
During festivals the entire road is cleared of encroachments and fire tenders are made to wait in standby