A major fire broke out inside the premises of famous Meenakshi temple here in which at least 40 shops were gutted, police said.
However, no one was injured, they said. Temple authorities ruled out any sabotage and said electrical short circuit in one of the shops selling pooja articles caused the fire on Friday.
The blaze did not cause any damage to the sculptures inside the temple though many of it was covered in soot. All the sculptures in the 1,000-pillared hall were saved by the timely intervention of the temple officials, workers and the fire and rescue service personnel, police said.
A team of fire extinguishers battled past midnight to put out the fire and bring the situation under control. Poojas would be held as per schedule, and cleaning up of the eastern side of the temple would be done in three days, officials said.
Various organisations including Hindu Baktha Jana Sabha, VHP and Hindu Munnani had been demanding to vacate the shops from the temple premises and keep the premises clean. Meanwhile, devotees were allowed to offer worship in the temple this morning.
Hindu outfit seeks action
A Tamil Nadu based Hindu outfit on Saturday demanded action against authorities for "failure" to take preventive measures to avoid the fire mishap at the Madurai Meenakshi temple.
The blaze at the Madurai Meenakshi temple is an example of the "inept" administration by the Hindu Charitable and Endowments Department, founder-organiser of the Hindu Munnani, Rama Gopalan, said.
Considering safety parameters, no shop should be allowed to function within the temple precincts. That no mechanism was in place to tackle the situation in the event of a fire showed the level of deterioration of administration by the HR and CE, he said in a release in Chennai.
"The Tamil Nadu government should take appropriate action against those responsible (temple administrative authorities) for failure to take preventive steps to avoid fire mishap at the Meenakshi temple."