The Tamil Nadu government would take up conservation, restoration and renovation works at 1,000 temples across the State at an estimated cost of Rs 500 crore besides establishing a mega icon display-cum-cultural centre at the Kapaleeswarar temple here, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department Minister P K Sekarbabu informed the Assembly on Wednesday.
The centre would have a library of books and texts on spirituality, a mini-auditorium, a book stall and a publication centre at the temple, he said. Winding up a debate on the demand for grants for his department, Sekarbabu said the "Thiruppani" works (conservation, restoration and renovation) would be carried out at a cost of Rs 100 crore in 80 temples that are more than 1,000 years old.
The work would be undertaken with a government grant. Among the 165 announcements made by the Minister today include the extension of the day-long 'annadhanam' (free meal) scheme to Ramanathaswamy temple, Rameswaram, Arunachaleswarar temple, Tiruvannamalai, and Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple, Madurai.
Further, the annadhanam scheme, currently operational in 754 temples, would be introduced in 10 more temples.
"During the festival days, the annadhanam will be offered to 500 people as against 100 at the Nellaiappar temple," Sekarbabu said. Free meals would be provided to about 10,000 devotees per day for 20 days to those undertaking pilgrimage to the Dhandayudhapaniswamy temple, Palani, during 'Thai Poosam' and 'Panguni Uthiram' festival days, he said. A new mega 'goshala' (cow shed) would be established on 25 acres of land belonging to the Sundararaja Perumal temple near here, at a cost of Rs 20 crore, to shelter the cattle donated to the temples.
"Commencing this year, about 200 devotees will be taken on a spiritual tour from Ramanathaswamy temple, Rameswaram, to Sri Viswanathaswamy temple, Kasi, every year and this will cost the government an expenditure of Rs 50 lakh," Sekarbabu informed. A detailed project report (DPR) would be prepared for a rope-car between Palani Hll and Idumban Hill and another at Subrahmanyaswamy temple in Coimbatore, he said.