It has been over two years since the renovation of the temple pond Padmatheertha in the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram began, but some devotees allege that a huge sum of money has been wasted.
Others allege that the work done has damaged the structures surrounding the pond.
The renovation of the pond situated near the pathway leading to the main entrance of the temple began in October 2015 by Nirmithi Kendra.
“Tenders are normally invited only once for such works. In the case of the pond, multiple tenders had been invited — one for drying up the pond, to remove the mud from it and for similar things. The work began just a month before the Sabarimala pilgrim season in 2015, which begins in November. There is a bigger pond of Trimoorthy temple which is under the same administration, not far from the Padmatheertha. It took only 54 days to renovate the pond,” says Manacaud Chandran, a party in a case to protect the temple’s heritage, which is currently in the Supreme Court.
The temple’s renovation is being carried out as part of infrastructure development around the temple under PRASAD (National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive). The project will cost Rs 250 crores, and for the first phase, Rs 80 crore has been allotted.
“Rs 80 lakh was wasted by doing undesirable work in connection with the pond like demolishing a mandap. The plastering on the surface of the gopuram’s pillars of the pond was not in line with the heritage. The Supreme Court, in one of the judgments, had specifically said that the renovation works shouldn’t tamper with the heritage and tradition of the temple,” says KP Madhusoodhanan, the General Secretary of Falke, a consortium of 22 resident associations around the temple.
Falke, Bhakta Samithi (Devotees Council) and representatives of Kowdiar Palace, the temple’s lineage, held a meeting in March. They reached a consensus, and a plea was made to the temple administration to entrust the work to former Archeology Director Hema Chandran. It is presently under her supervision.
Meanwhile, the Indic Collective Trust, a heritage protection organisation, approached the Supreme Court and sought a stay on the work being carried out by the Nirmithi Kendra. They also sought the court's intervention to assess the destruction and appoint a suitable person or institution as per the recommendation of Archaeological Survey of India.