Monsoon accentuates Baijnath temple leaks in Himachal Pradesh

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Rains: Baijnath temple leaks increase
Baijnath (Himachal Pradesh), Oct 13: The roof of an Archeological Survey of India (ASI)-managed temple dedicated to Lord Shiva here developed leaks two years ago and the problem has been accentuated by this year's prolonged monsoon, its priests said. It lies in the area where the demon king Ravana is said to have meditated and his effigy is not burnt in the town on Dussehra.

The Baijnath temple, a beautiful example of early medieval north Indian temple architecture known as the Nagara style, has seen uninterrupted worship since its construction in the 13th century.

"For the past two years, the temple roof has been leaking, but the problem got acute this monsoon," temple priest Uma Kant told IANS. He said most of the inside walls have developed moulds and wet rot has set in.

Thousands of devotees from India and abroad visit the temple every year. The temple town is located at an altitude of 4,311 feet amid the scenic Dhauladhar mountain range of the Himalayas and some 60 km from the district headquarters town of Kangra.

Temple officials said chemical washing of walls and roofs was carried out by the ASI three years back and since then pores have developed on the roof's surface.

ASI superintendent Zulfikar Ali, who is based in Shimla, said a team would visit the temple built in 1204 A.D. to examine the seepage problem.

"Repair and conservation work of all heritage buildings is an ongoing process. If the problem (in the temple) is acute, we will start repair work soon after the monsoon. Otherwise, the work will be done before the next monsoon," Ali told IANS.

Raja Sansar Chand, the then Katoch ruler of Kangra, renovated the temple in the 19th century. Union Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch, who represents Rajasthan's Jodhpur constituency in the Lok Sabha, is married into the erstwhile Kangra royal family.

The temple withstood the most devastating earthquake in 1905 in the Kangra Valley that killed more than 20,000 people in the region.

Locals believe burning the effigy of Ravana on Dussehra will bring bad luck and invite the wrath of Lord Shiva.

"This is the place where Ravana meditated for years to appease Lord Shiva. Burning his effigy and celebrating the festival means incurring the wrath of Shiva," Prem Parshad Pandit, former member-secretary of the high-powered committee of Himachal temples, told IANS.

"There is also a myth that anybody from the town who participates in the effigy-burning ceremony will die an unnatural death. The fear of death is so strong that residents prefer to stay away from any kind of celebrations," he added.

IANS

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