Heritage site tag on cards for Melkote

Temple town has a history of 3,000 years: Experts

Heritage site tag on cards for Melkote

A temple at Melkote.

The Mandya district administration is making efforts to get a place for the temple town of Melkote in the 'World Heritage Site' list, which is recognised by Unesco.

The State government constituted the Melkote Development Authority two months ago for the overall development and conservation of the 12th century historic town, which houses two major temples and nearly 20 small temples.

The Authority, comprising 12 members including Mandya Deputy Commissioner Dr P C Jaffer, held its first meeting recently to chalk out an action plan. It was here that the idea of a place for Melkote in the 'World Heritage Site' list was conceptualised.

While Rs two crore was allocated in the previous year's budget, the government has announced an additional budget of Rs 10 crore this year, to be spent by the Authority on development work in the town.

Jaffer said presently, Rs one crore was being spent on repair works at the main temples - Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple at the foot of the hillock and Yoganarasimha temple atop the hillock. Use of plastic has already been banned in Melkote, while underground drainage work has been taken up, said Jaffer. He added that a blueprint would be prepared soon.

Historian Thailoor Venkatakrishna, who is also a member of the Authority, said the idea was to bring back the natural beauty of Melkote, for which a afforestation project has been undertaken. "Saint Ramanujacharya named the main temple Cheluvanarayanaswamy Devalaya, because of the surrounding natural beauty of Melkote. The Authority wants to recreate this environment. Efforts are on to ensure that any new house that comes up is in sync with the existing structures, so that the heritage status is maintained," said Venkatakrishna.

The historian said it was also important to protect the rocks in the town, some of which have line drawings belonging to ancient times. Archaeologists have even unearthed pots and pans which are said to be 3,000 years old. Venkatakrishna said Melkote's cultural and traditional practices, which have a heritage status, were also in need of revival. Melkote has around 76 'mantapas' and 29 'kalyanis' (tanks). The district administration has begun work on desilting these man-made ponds or tanks.

Deputy Conservator of Forests of Mandya, Vinay Kumar, said the forest department was in the process of creating various 'daivavanas' which will go by the names like 'Dharmikavana', 'Smrithivana', 'Navagrahavana' and 'Saptarishivana'. Re-plantation would be taken up on about 200 hectares in and around Melkote, where the department had identified over 200 rare and endangered floral species, some of which date back to the pre-historic times.

 He said that the naked seed plants called Cycas Circinalis, endangered species like Gardenia Gummifera and the commonly used medicinal plant Boswellia Sarreta were being destroyed by constant grazing and human interference. The department will engage in natural regeneration by sowing seeds of these plants, at the same time trying to protect the soil moisture of the region.

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