Sree Padmanabhaswamy and Subhas Chandra Bose

In 1941, a British official in Chennai received an anonymous letter which claimed that Subhas Chandra Bose had returned to India and was living in the premises of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. The letter was forwarded to the dewan Sir C P Ramaswamy Iyer who immediately put a close watch around the area.

The letter, received by British officials in Calcutta and passed on to Murphy, said “Bose is in the near vicinity of Sree Anantha Padmanabha of Travancore and still further in the Rameswaram side..It then continued ‘he (Bose) has gone to find out the truth of Lord Sree Krishna’s teaching.'”
According to a docket in the Kerala State Archives, on seeing the letter, the then British Resident for the Madras State, Lieutenant Colonel G P Murphy, forwarded a copy of it to Dewan of Travancore Sir C P Ramaswamy Iyer requesting to “closely watch” the area around the grand temple.
The request was immediately complied with but no clue whatsoever of the possible visit of the Netaji, as Bose is endearingly called by his followers and admirers, was found around the temple complex.[British wanted Padmanabha temple watched for Subhas Bose]

PS: The Economic Times article claims that “The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple was built in the 18th century by King Marthanda Varma of the Travancore royal lineage”. They are off by more than a millenia.

2000 Year Old Shiva Temple

Last year at a place called Sanchakot in Uttar Pradesh, archaeologists found evidence of a temple complex consisting of five temples. Four temples were dated between 1st – 3rd century CE, but one temple built for worshipping Lord Shiva dated to an older period: either late Maurya or early Sunga period. Till now it was believed that temples were constructed in India during the Gupta period, but this evidence changed that.
Now just five kilometers away we have discovery of another temple from the same period.

Interestingly, the site is called ‘twin temple’ because an octagonal temple structure was found to be superimposing an older apsidal temple. “It may be assumed that there was an older temple which was renovated by the rulers who succeeded the Sunga rulers,” said Prof Tewari. 
What makes the discovery of this temple more interesting is the fact that it housed a mysterious deity. “We are sure that the site was a Hindu temple… there is a proper entrance, portico, ardha mandap, mandap, transepts and a garbha griha…but we cannot claim which deity the temple housed,” said Sandeep, a team member. In fact the team prefers to stay silent on the issue till they get a concrete evidence.[Temples are older than you think (via IndiaArchaeology)]

The Inspiration behind the Indian Parliament Building

Apparently the design for the Indian Parliament was “inspired”. The inspiration comes from an eighth century Shiva temple in Madhya Pradesh.

Located in the non-descript Mitawali village of Morena district, the magnificent circular structure lies in a radius of 170 feet. The temple, dedicated to Hindu God, Lord Shiva, has figurines of 64 demigoddesses engraved on the circular inner wall. It also has 64 rooms, each with a ‘Shivlingam’- Shiva’s phallic symbol.
Archaeologists claim that the temple was a seat of Vedic and astrological studies in the olden days.
The Parliament building, designed by renowned architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker, was constructed in 1927, 20 years before India’s independence in 1947. The building has been highly appreciated for its design across the world .It is touted to be among one of the world’s best architectural wonders.
But the temple, which the archaeologists and locals in Mitawali believe might have inspired the magnificent building, is in a state of dilapidation.
The Archaeological Survey of India, the autonomous body in-charge of India’s historical sites has only deputed a caretaker at the temple premises. Absence of any concerted renovation work is affecting the entire structure, especially the sculptures on the temple wall. [Central Indian temple that inspired Parliament lies in neglect]

Picture: Mitawli Shiva Temple

Restoration of Katasraj temple

Pakistan has many places of worship important to Hindus and Sikhs and we covered on such place, Sharada Thirtha, a while back. Now Pakistan is nominating the Katasraj temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, for World Heritage Site status.

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the sprawling Katasraj shrine located in Chakwal district is constructed on a site believed to have been visited by the Pandava brothers of Mahabharata epic fame. Apart from the temples, there is a sacred pool having mythical association with Lord Shiva.
One of the key driving forces behind the efforts to restore the shrine is Chaudhury Shujaat Hussain, President of the country’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Q). His brother Chaudhury Pervez Illahi is the Chief Minister of the Punjab province where the shrine is located.[Pak. may nominate Katasraj for World Heritage Site status]

During their exile the Pandavas reached a lake and when they were about to quench their thirst, a Yaksha, the protector of the lake appeared and said that only people who answer his questions right would be allowed to drink water. The four Pandavas failed and were made lifeless by the Yaksha. Finally Yudhishtira answered all his questions and the brothers were revived. According to one legend, this dialogue happened at the Katasraj Mandir pond.
A look at this temple and you can see how much renovation and restoration needs to be done here.

The very entrance to Katasraj Mandir is a pathetic one. There’s nothing that can be termed as Mandir except the ruins. In fact, the presence of an old board only indicated that the site is that of the famous Katasraj Mandir where a guard is also placed. There is a plaque by the Archaeological Survey of Pakistan that quotes the history of this temple. “Katas: Kohistan Mountains, Central Chakwal — according to the legend of the Mahabharata, when Lord Shiva lost his wife Parvati, he felt so upset that the ponds at the eastern and western ends of the temple got filled by his tears. In Sanskrit it is also known as ‘Katak Sheel’ which means flow of tears. Later on the name got twisted to ‘Katas’. The place is of great significance for the Brahmins.”
Even Al-Bairuni wrote an interesting history of the temple in his ‘Kitab-ul-Hind’ where he depicts that he learnt Sanskrit and science at Katas. Not only this, quite interestingly, he even learnt many Vedic traditions. Renowned historian Panikkar states that ‘Kitab-ul-Hind’ brings a very honest and first-hand account of history at that time. It is also mentioned in Bairuni’s book that Katas happened to be the most revered Mandir after Punjab’s Jwalamukhi Mandir. This fact is also confirmed by Liaqat Ali Khan Niyazi, the Deputy Commissioner of Chakwal. Al-Bairuni also mentioned about other Pakistani temples like Panch Mukhi ka Hanuman Mandir, Nagnath Baba Mandir and Darya Lal Mandir. [Temples Dying in Pakistan]

Now Pakistan is going to spend $25 million for the restoration of this temple and hopefully after that it should have the grandeur it once had.