Kerala artisans build temple for shipment to US

via VR Jayaraj | Thrissur - Daily Pioneer published on November 29, 2009

Mulagunnathukavu is a sleepy little village outside the periphery of Thrissur city, but about a dozen artisans here are currently engaged in a mission that could turn out to be yet another wonder of the world. The huge structure they are carving out of teakwood in bits and pieces would be taken to US next month to be reassembled into a Lord Krishna temple there.

The temple the artisans are working on is indeed huge: A total area of 1,000 sq feet with a height of 26 feet. The entire temple, going to the US as wooden pillars, boards, sculptures, idols, planks, etc, is to be reassembled on pillars once they reach there. Artisans said they had been working round the clock on the project for the past many years, and hoped the works could be finished in time for shipment.

The temple, being sculpted for Iskcon (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), will have eight domes, the work on which the work is progressing at the Mulagunnathukavu workshop. The primary carving of the wooden boards and doors and the polishing are being carried out in a workshop at Cherpu, some 45 km away from this village.

Chief artisan Venu said the model and design of the temple was made by a Keralite contractor-architect and the Iskcon authorities in the US approved it three years back. Most of the artisans are craftsmen with specialization in temple architecture and sculpting. Venu said all the artisans were particularly happy about the work as it was related to Lord Krishna.

The paneling on the wooden walls is decorated with stories of Dasavataras, the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, engraved in teakwood. Artisans said the work gave them a lot of enjoyment but admitted that it was a very difficult job. The temple is being “built” keeping the ethnic style intact but with the modern touch America would require.

Halfway through the work, the Kerala architect had some videos and photographs of the finished parts and the ongoing work and the Iskcon people had been satisfied with it. Sasi, an artisan, said that they were paying a lot of attention to the details of the work “as everyone loved as it was a Krishna temple”.

He said carving the Dasavatara stories on teakwood had taken a lot of time as they had to be extra-careful when doing it. “We also created exquisite sculptures on the pillars, which also was a very hard and time-consuming job,” Sasi said.

The artisans said they were not yet sure how many of them would have to go to the US to reassemble the temple there. “Probably, all of us,” said a sculptor. “But the work is so accurate that they (Iskcon) may not have much trouble in re-building it there,” he added

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