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Tamil Nadu tourism department in 2006 wanted shops to be shifted

MADURAI: In the wake of the fire inside the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple, which may have been caused by a short circuit in a shop inside the premises, many feel that the shifting of all the shops to the proposed site at Kunnathoor chathiram should be done without further delay. In 2006, the department of tourism had made the proposal.

The Pudhumandapam is an architectural marvel constructed by King Thirumalai Naicker. It is situated between East Chittirai and East Masi streets in front of the eastern tower of the Meenakshi temple. It has about 50 sculptures, including those of intricately carved yalis, Brahma and Lord Shiva.

With a huge space within four corridors (333 feet in length and 105 feet in width), the Pudhumandapam is right opposite the temple entrance where the fire occurred. The Tamil Nadu tourism department, while proposing to renovate the mandapam at a cost of ₹2.4 crore, had stated, “Cultural events would be held in the mandapam, after it is cleared of all the shops.”

The old Kunathoor chathiram adjoining the Pudhumandapam was selected for setting up of a commercial complex where the shops would be moved. But even after the foundation stone was laid for it in December 2006, the work was not completed and the Pudhumandapam continues to be defaced and damaged by the shops present there.

Convener of the Madurai chapter of the INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) Aravind Kumar Sankar said that it would be better if the shops which spoilt the beauty of the temple premises were removed to the Kunnathoor chathiram along with the shops in Pudumandapam. He said this will help the shopkeepers rake in more profit as a commercial complex would definitely have more footfall than inside the temple.

“However, shops that sell flowers and kumkum, which are essential to perform temple rituals, should be allowed to remain,” he said. 

When contacted, the Madurai corporation commissioner Aneesh Sekhar said the shifting of the shops to the Kunnathoor chathiram was a part of the smart city project and would be taken up soon.

Times of India
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