A day after the collapse of the Rajagopuram of the revered Shiva temple at Srikalahasti, experts mulled whether it was human negligence that brought it down or was it natural causes such as wear and tear, exposure to the elements and lightning strikes?
The Srikalahasti temples are several centuries old. They were initially constructed by Chola kings and added to by the Telugu Chodas and Yadava Rayas. It is said that even the Kakatiyas contributed to the magnificent temple complex and all the Vijayanagara kings added to its grandeur.
The collapsed gali gopuram, the tallest structure in the temple complex, standing at a height of 136 ft, was a part of the fifth prakara of the temple. It was constructed by Srikrishnadevaraya. Today, the fifth prakara is no longer there due to encroachment by landsharks and government alike.
“The foundation of the structure weakened due to the sinking of borewells, construction of sanitation pits, laying of drainage canals very near the structure. The disaster could have been averted had the officials acted in time and controlled the encroachment on the periphery of the temple,’’ archaeology professor in SV University Kiran Kranth Chowdary says.
On the other hand, temple executive engineer Vasudevan and Stapati Lakshmi Narayana says that due to natural causes and the materials used, the structure collapsed. “If you see the derbris, you will find that water has seeped into the bricks and the lime used in the mortar is no longer there.
Every structure has an age and the present one which stood for centuries has gone,’’ Stapati says.
However, Chowdary disagreed to it and feels that life of the structure could have been expanded by over another three hundred to five hundred years, if the treatment was given to the structure and proper care was taken during its renovation.
The two renovations done to the structure in post independent era turned out to be ineffective and human negligence was a factor in the two instances.
The temple authorities hope that the base of the seven-storeyed Rajagopuram is intact, so the replica of the old can be constructed on it. They had photographs of every facet, design and figurines of Gods, demigods and other celestial beings on the structure and measurements of the entire structure have been recorded in detail.
Even though, the replica of the structure might be reconstructed, but the legacy of Srikrishnadevaraya, would remain lost.