Villagers Unearth Indian Temple Buried in River Sand
In India, local people have discovered an old temple that had been buried beneath river sand for 80 years. The Hindhu temple is dedicated to Lord Nageswara and was once immensely popular with residents. This remarkable discovery was almost entirely due to the hard work and initiative of ordinary villagers.
The temple was unearthed in the Penna River near Peramalla Padu village in Chejarla Mandal of Nellore district, reports OpIndia. This is in the eastern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh . The temple was used by the local people for over a hundred years. It is believed that the structure was built about 200 years ago when India was part of the British Empire .
Temple Buried as the Penna River Changed Course
‘After the Penna river changed its course, the temple was buried under the sand’ reports Ek Number News . The temple was completely covered in sand and silt and even its pinnacle could not be seen. Vara Prasad, a local resident, told Ani News , that ‘the elders of our village told us that the shrine was filled up with sand some 75 or 80 years ago.’ As a result, the local people were forced to build a new temple at another location.
Lord Shiva Temple Gopuram at Kanipakam, Chittor District, Andhra Pradesh (Adityamadhav83 / CC BY-SA 3.0 )
Both the new and the old temple are dedicated to Lord Nageswara, who is an aspect of the God Shiva . It is common in Hinduism that believers worship an aspect or avatar of a god. Shiva is one of the most important Hindu gods and is the chief deity in Shaivism. His followers are known as Shaivites and they believe that he created the world and is embodied in the universe. Shiva is often depicted in Indian religious art with a third eye .
Villagers Cooperated to Unearth the Old Temple
Older people in the village never forgot about the sunken temple, and told stories about the day it was lost. In Hinduism, a temple is the dwelling of a divinity. According to legend the sacred structure found under the river sand and silt was consecrated by Lord Parashurama . He is the sixth avatar of Rama, an important Hindu god, who was known to have worshipped Shiva.
Recently, a villager initiated a campaign to bring the sacred building back to the light. Prasad, stated that ‘one day a Galipala Sudarsan, initiated efforts to bring this temple’ out of the sand, according to Ani News . Eager villagers raised money to fund the operation and many agreed to work on the project for free. It took the locals a full day of digging in the sand to expose the pinnacle of the temple.
Sanctum Sanctorum layout in an Indian temple (Arjuncm3 / CC BY-SA 4.0 )
This proved to the volunteers that they had found the long-lost structure, which has not yet been fully exposed. Like all Hindu temples, the sections of the building follow a strict pattern established millennia ago. Mr Prasad is quoted by Ani News as saying that ‘the sanctum sanctorum is much deeper and the area in which it was found was in the Mukhamandapa.’ The sanctum is the shrine to the god Shiva and the Mukhamaṇḍapa is a small pavilion or porch constructed in front of the temple entranceway.
During the villagers' excavations they came across a statue of Shiva. The temple flooded so quickly that the locals did not have the chance to rescue it 80 years ago. According to Vara Prasad, we ‘have to check the condition and status of the Lord Shiva’s idol’ reports Swarajya.
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Restoration of the Newly Uncovered Temple
The villagers continue to excavate the structure and are trying to remove all the sand. They ultimately hope to restore the temple to its past state, and they will consult with older residents to ensure that it will be rebuilt authentically. Mr Prasad stated that ‘We will seek advice from the elders and the priests’ during the restoration work according to Swarajya.
Carved stone pillars forming the Mukhamantapa entrance area of a Shiva temple (Mahabalaindia / CC)
In recent months another submerged religious site has arisen from the waters of the Mahanadi River. OpIndia reports that ‘a 500-year-old Gopinath temple emerged from the waters of the Mahanadi during an ongoing project’ carried out by Indian archaeologists. At the Mahanadi Valley Heritage Site, in Odisha central India, there are some twenty two temples that are partially or fully submerged.
Top image: Old Indian Shiva temple unearthed on the Penna River near Peramalla Padu village, Andra Pradesh, India Source: ANI
By Ed Whelan