Refurbishing history: This group is on mission to restore dilapidated temples, lakes in Karnataka

A group of young volunteers is on a mission to restore dilapidated temples, kalyanis and lakes and to keep them alive

Published: 31st October 2021 03:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st October 2021 03:23 AM   |  A+A-

National Service  Scheme (NSS) volunteers, students,  civil servants and competitive exam aspirants together  clean the kalyani at Jakkanahalli village in Srirangapatna

National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers, students, civil servants and competitive exam aspirants together clean the kalyani at Jakkanahalli village in Srirangapatna

Express News Service

MYSURU: It is said that people without the knowledge of their past -- glorious or horrid -- are like trees without roots. And a group of young volunteers in Mysuru is determined to nurture these trees and pass on the treasure trove of history to future generations. 

Braving reptiles and brambles, hundreds of National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers, students and civil servant and competitive exam aspirants are on a mission to restore lakes, ponds, kalyanis (temple tanks), ancient temples and other structures in Mysuru and Mandya regions, which lie in a state of neglect.

Over the past four years, this group of NSS volunteers from Seshadripuram Degree College in Mysuru, and volunteers of Achievers’ Academy in Srirangapatna (which offers free competitive exam training) have given a new lease of life to at least 10 kalyanis, four lakes and many temples ruined by the vagaries of nature and time.

What started as an initiative as part of the NSS programme under the leadership of Dr Raghavendra R, NSS programme officer of Seshadripuram Degree College, is now a full-fledged movement with over 300 young volunteers sweating it out to restore these gems to their past glory.

Upon receiving information on any ruined water body or temple in the region, Raghavendra visits the spot and first converses with the villagers, then obtains necessary permission from the officials concerned, and draws up a plan of revival with students and members of his academy, Achievers’ Academy.

Equipped with the required tools, the volunteers then plunge into action. Though these water bodies or temple structures or mantapas are mostly covered with weed and are home to reptiles and insects, some even poisonous, the volunteers brave it out for their mission. After the cleaning process, the volunteers also ensure that the waterbody is filled to the brim with fresh water and often visit the structures to ensure they are maintained properly.

“NSS aims to develop a student’s personality through community service. So, by involving NSS volunteers of our college, we decided to clean up kalyanis and make them fully functional again. That is how it all started. Students of our academy too joined us in the restoration drive... they come voluntarily with great zeal and passion to give back something fruitful to society,” says Raghavendra. “We ensure that all precautionary measures are taken and equipment needed is made available to our volunteers. We talk to the villagers to get a clear idea of the place and obtain the necessary permission from the officials,” he adds.

Most of the tanks, lakes and temples they take up for revival are more than a century old and are said to be built during the period of erstwhile Mysuru kings and Tipu Sultan. “Many tanks would have dried up or become polluted with waste or construction debris. These places were once a lifeline to many in the surroundings, and temple priests would take water from the tanks to offer puja. Ours is an attempt to not only revive them, but also make people aware about their historical importance,” says Raghavendra.
Though the task looks simple for a layman, it is not. Students and volunteers manually clear the weeds and remove muck, and no machines are involved.

“We had to once cross a river to clean a temple constructed on an island. It was a difficult task. But in the end, we felt content that we could restore the temple for the next generation to cherish,” says a volunteer. “I continue to be part of many such activities taken up by the group. I feel it is important to give back to society more than questioning what society has given us. Volunteering gives me a great sense of satisfaction,” says Yashwanth, a NSS cadet.

Nisarga, a PSI aspirant, says, “I was happy seeing the noble work of Raghavendra and his group of NSS students, which motivated me to take part in the restoration. I even volunteered with them during the Covid-19 pandemic.” The volunteers also take up door-to-door campaigns and activities to sensitise people in villages on diverse issues, ranging from sanitation to cleanliness. They also actively created awareness on Covid pandemic by educating villagers on the guidelines to follow. 


Kalyanis and lakes restored by the group


Sri Ramanuja kalyani in Darasaguppe

Dasara Bannimantapa kalyani in Kiranguru

Srinivasa kalyani in Karighatta

400 year-old kalyani in Jakkanahalli

Lakes in Siddapura, near Bommanahalli, Jakkanahalli lake

Temple and mantapas

800 year-old Jagannatha temple in Ganjam 

Srinivasa Padmavathi temple in Sangam 

Kashi Vishwanatha temple on an island in the middle of the Cauvery 

Eshwara temple near Karighatta

Ganga-era temple near Neralekere


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp