Srikalahasti Collapse – Four-Member Committee appointed, Following Global outcry

published on June 5, 2010

Srikalahasti Rajagopuram collapsed; Submitted 15 recommendations to Government; Demanded the Formation of Task Force to investigate

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. Dale Carnegie (American lecturer, author, 1888-1955)

 This message is loud and clear for all concerned Hindus to take appropriate action against the government to ensure that the history is not repeated – Hindu Temples are not neglected and destroyed. The government failed to create confidence among Hindus through its inaction and carelessness. The case in point is the collapse of Rajagopuram of Sri Kalahasti Shiva Temple near Tirupati. How can Hindus protect their historical, valuable and sacred places? Go out and get busy.


 The Rajagopuram that was built about the 500 years ago in front of the famous Srikalahasti temple – popularly known as Dakshina Kaasi  in Chittoor collapsed on May 26, 2010 (Wednesday) night. Fortunately, there were no human casualties. Many people believe that a crack in the structure was noticed more than twenty-five years ago. Andhra Pradesh government has complete control over all the Temples in the state that make certain amount of money. State government is responsible for the appointment of the officers, scheduling of worship services, providing security for the building and the devotees, proper usage of the resources, maintenance and upkeep of the Temple, renovation of the Temple and preservation of the culture. State government has failed miserably in taking appropriate measure to renovate the Rajagopuram.

 It should be remembered that May 26, 2010 (Wednesday) was a very sad day indeed  not just for the structure. It is a blow to the history, it is a black mark against government, it is a rage against the richest civilization, it is a crime against Hindus, and it is a hallmark of negligence by Hindus for not demanding self  management. Along with the structure, historical significance of the structure, the image of Sri Krishna Devaraya, and architectural marvel came crumbling down. Glorious history was allowed to be erased with pure negligence, utter indifference, sheer irresponsibility, downright arrogance, absolute contempt for Hindu temples, and total distain for Hindus by the government.
 Knowing fully well that the 136 feet high Rajagopuram was experiencing cracks in the structure as observed by the local residents, devotees across the globe and the experts, government took no action, ignored the sentiments of the people, and paid no heed to the experts. Government willfully allowed the structure to crumble. Local residents and experts believe that the collapse was due to unbridled drilling for bore wells in the area. Also they believe that timely intervention could have saved the historical structure. Why the government did not take appropriate action to prevent this collapse even though the crack was noticed for the last twenty years? In fact the temple official stated The temple had developed cracks in the late 80s too. In 1996, TTD had helped in renovation to fill the breaches. Then the question is  How did the Rajagopuram collapse if the government filled the breaches? Is it due to the lack of funds? Obviously not! The annual income of the Sri Kalahasti Temple is around Rupees 100 crores. One wonders how the Hindu devotees money is spent?

 Fortunately, Sri Krishnadevarayas statue, which is only a few feet away from the gopuram, was untouched by the collapse. The then Vijayanagara ruler Srikrishnadevaraya built this huge Rajagopuram in 1516 AD to celebrate his victory over Gajapathi kingdom. History is lost in the rubbles.

Sri Kamal Kumar Swamy visits Collapsed Rajagopuram

As soon as the news was broadcast across the nation and the globe, Sri Kamal Kumar Swamy, the President of Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samiti (HDPS), left Hyderabad immediately and went to Sri Kalahasti to inspect the collapse of the gopuram the next day (Thursday). A number of local activists including Sri Subrahmanya Yadav of HDPS participated in the inspection of the collapsed Gopuram and demanded proper course of action to preserve these historical Temples across the state. Global Hindu Heritage Foundation and HDPS have been working closely for the last four years to repeal the Endowment Act to enable the Hindus to manage their religious institutions. Mission of our organization is to ensure that the Temples are in the hands of Hindus by demanding the government to give the same privileges it accorded to Christians and Muslims.

 HDPS met with a group of news media person demanded that the Rajagopuram should be rebuild immediately. He also demanded the government to set up a Task Force to inspect all the Temples and undertake appropriate renovation measures to preserve the ancient Temples. Sri K. Swamy said that the experts in Agama Shastras, temple architecture, archeologists, civil engineers, officials from Archeological Survey of India, and officials from Endowments Department should be included in this Task Force. It should study all the famous historical Temples and submit a status report on these ancient structures to the public and the government. Without further delay, the government should identify all the Temples and develop plans to renovation the Temples.

 He observed that this incident should be taken seriously and should serve as a lesson to be learnt by the government and all concerned organization to make sure this kind of negligence would not be repeated. He also said that HDPS members would also go to various Temples to inspect the status to identify endangered structures.

Memorandum of Concerns submitted to TTD officials
 Following the collapse of Rajagopuram of Srikalahasti Shiva Temple, Sri Kamal Kumar Swamy, President of HDPS, Sri Subrahmanya Yadav, Vice-President of HDPS, Sri Peruru Sudhakar Reddy, Chittoor District President and other members visited and examined the strength of a number of nearby historical Temples and submitted their concerns to Executive Officer of TTD On June 1, 2010.

1) Northwest corner of Sri Venkateshwara Temple from where the devotees worship Vimana Venkateshwara is slowly sinking. TTD should take immediate precautionary steps to stabilize the corner.
2) The vegetation is growing on the Vimana Gopuram of Sri Venkateshwara, which may result in making the structure, weak. Steps must be taken to remove the vegetation and do the necessary filling of the areas.
3) Four column Mantapam (known as Gollamantapam) that is located in front of Mukhadwara (front entrance) is in a dilapidated condition. Further more, Firecracker sounds and the chemicals are damaging the structure. It should be reconstructed.
4) Thousand Eyed (Veyikalla) Mantapam should be reconstructed as recommended by P V R K Prasad Committee.
5) Vakulamaata Temple located in Peruru Banda Village is in dilapidated condition due to the litigation. TTD should request the High Court to cancel the Stay order and renovate the Temple and also complete bronze plating of the entire Temple.
6) No new construction should take place on Tirumala Hills. New construction is going to affect the strength of the mountain. Also, it should be preserved as a sacred Religious place rather than a Tourist Center. Tourism activities must be undertaken below the Seven Hills instead of on the Hills.
7) No new construction on the Hill should be assigned to Tourism Department.
8) Solar fencing should be installed around the Seven Hills to provide adequate security for the Temple and devotees.
9) Security personnel should be employed by TTD instead of giving contract to outside agencies.
10) As a respect to the devotees who stand hours together to have darshan of Balaji, TTD should extend the visitation hours for these devotees and reduce VIP darshan time.
11) TTD should not assign the Temple lands for employee housing. If the trend continues, no land may be left over few decades. Also there is no guarantee that other religious people may not occupy these houses.
12) Lands belonging to S V Poor Home in Akkarampalle village are being misused and being sold. These lands worth several crores should be guarded by TTD.
13) Land located on the east side of S V High School on Prakasam Road has a sign reversed. It can be construed as a land not belonging to any body and it can be encroached. Hence TTD should take necessary steps to protect this land by constructing compound wall around the land.
14) Corruption is increasing day by day among the employees of TTD. Honesty has become a rare commodity. Strict code of conduct and penalties must be imposed immediately by TTD to preserve the integrity and honesty of the Temple.
15) In order to identify the employees of TTD, it should adopt a dress code. They should wear white clothes and apply Tilak on the forehead. It makes it easy for devotees to identify the employees of TTD if they have any questions and concerns.
We request TTD to implement the above suggestions at the earliest convenience.

Four-Member Committee appointed
Following the global outcry and uproar as well as the recommendations suggested by HDPS, the Andhra Pradesh Government, on May 31, announced that it had set up a four-member inquiry committee to go into the factors that led to the collapse of the Rajagopuram. The members will be S. Narasimha Rao, a specialist in structural engineering who was a former professor in the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras, Meher Prasad, professor, IIT-Madras, and C.R. Murthy, professor, IIT-Hyderabad. R. Jaganmohan, Chief Engineer, Endowments Department, Andhra Pradesh, will be the committees convener. They have been asked to study rajagopurams, which are older than the Sri Kalahasti temples rajagopuram in the State and submit a report by the end of this month.

A few days earlier, the Endowments Minister, G. Venkata Reddy, had said such a broad-based committee would be set up and it would consult specialists in temple architecture such as sthapatis and personnel from the Archaeological Survey of India on how to build a new tower. The new Rajagopuram would be built in accordance with Saiva agama sastras.

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