ASI letter to take over TTD temples kicks up row

The ASI wants to take the main temple at Tirumala under its wings in order to maintain its antiquity.

In what could be considered as the direct intervention of the Centre into the affairs of one of the richest temples in the world, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) wants to take the main temple at Tirumala and all its associated temples under its wings, in order to maintain its antiquity.

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), an Andhra Pradesh government appointed body, has been running the day-to-day administration of the temple without any intervention from any central body till date.

The ASI's Amaravati circle in a letter to the executive officer of the TTD has said that it has received a communication from its headquarters to examine the feasibility of declaring the Tirumala Tirupati Devastanam and its group of temples located at Tirumala as protected monuments keeping in view of their antiquity and historicity.

“Hence you are requested to provide information on the temples under the TTD and also cooperate with the ASI officials approaching you to collect information and take photographs,” the letter signed by the superintendent archaeologist said.

“The ASI has been trying to take over the protection of the temple for a long time. There is nothing new in the letter,” Rangarajan, chief priest at the Chilkur Balaji temple, told DH.

He argued that the ASI came into the scene only after the state government demolished the Thousand Pillar Mandapam, tampered with the Vakuladevi temple and is now trying to making changes to the Ontimitta temple in Kadapa. “The ASI wants to protect the legacy and it will not allow the unmindful acts of the ruling political parties. Moreover, the administration will be in the hands of TTD only,” Rangarajan said while supporting the ASI’s move.

However, the ruling TDP expressed apprehensions over the timing of the letter. “Our Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu has been criticising the promises made and broken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Tirupati. It is an act of vengeance, the BJP wants to take that time from us, which we will oppose,” a senior TDP leader from Chhittor said.

Naveen Kumar Reddy of Rayalaseema Samrakshana Samithi said that the TTD will have to take the ASI's permission to even decorate the temple walls and to take out processions in Mada streets as that will be construed as an encroachment into the protected area.

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ASI letter to take over TTD temples kicks up row

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