Muslim teacher digs deep into pocket to restore temples

Last Updated : 24 November 2019, 20:14 IST

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This retired Muslim teacher from Nagamangala in Mandya district is the go-to person for protecting temples in his region. Mohammed Kaleemulla, a retired high school teacher, has renovated four dilapidated temples of historical importance in the district.

A member of Karnataka Itihasa Academy, he spends the majority of his time looking for old temples that need renovation, apart from documenting his findings, which are on the academy’s website.

In the last six years, Kaleemulla has helped renovate the Machalaghatta Ishwara temple and two temples dedicated to Chennakeshava belonging to Krishnadevaraya period in his taluk, along with a Basava temple in Hirisave near Channarayapatna, Hassan district.

Interested in history, Kaleemulla completed post-graduation in the subject after retirement. “I worked in Basaralu in Mandya. There is a Hoysala temple here dedicated to Lord Mallikarjuna. I used to see this every day when I went to work. I wrote about this and it was published in a local paper.

This encouraged me to take up more work. I began looking into ancient temples in my region. I soon found that the majority of them lacked maintenance,” he said.

People, in general, lacked awareness, he lamented, giving the instance of the ruins of one temple, near which people defecated, without knowing its importance.

“I later helped in renovating the structure and asked them not to defecate there,” he added.

Another member involved in the Academy’s work, Dhanapal K is a BMTC driver assigned to Bengaluru Darshini trips. He spends his weekly offs documenting inscriptions and monuments around the city. While he could not study beyond SSLC, Dhanapal is now pursuing an epigraphy course.

He has also come up with a booklet containing information of the city, for the benefit of tourists who travel in his bus.

He developed interest in epigraphy when he went to tourist places as part of his work, he said.

“Three years ago, I found an inscription dating back 1528 in Yelahanka, in a ditch covered with slush and with snakes coiling beneath the stone. I alerted the archaeology department and the officials promptly recovered it. I felt that there could be other historical memorabilia neglected in this manner. I actively began looking for it,” he narrated.

While there is superstition attached with reading inscriptions, Dhanapal creates awareness about them. “People believe that misfortune will befall them, if they decipher it. I wanted to fight against such superstitions.” He also puts up boards near neglected structures, giving information to locals.

In another part of the state is Raghavendra Achari, a mason from Davangere. Achari, who could not study beyond SSLC, has a diploma in epigraphy, which he completed through distance education.

When he works in construction sites, he ensures that all other workers with him get educated about the history and heritage of the region.

“I was always interested in monuments and historical structures since my school days. Now, I study epigraphy every night after work. I keep a watch out when I travel to different towns on work. I ask villagers to bring me photos,” he said. Achari has conducted 118 awareness drives in local colleges under the banner ‘Prachina Itihasa Sanshodhana Kendra’.

The members of the Academy specified that their work was done out of their own interest spending from their pockets for conserving the state’s heritage.

Published 24 November 2019, 17:01 IST

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