, 11 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
While many Indians on SM seem pretty upset at Notredame cathedral catching fire, we remain oblivious to the gross neglect of many vibrant, functioning centers of heritage in our own country

One such example is this massive, dilapidated temple of PundarIkAksha at Thiruvellarai
Thiruvellarai is a small hamlet some 20 kms from Trichy and Srirangam, boasting a temple that as per some legends is even older than the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple - the bhooloka Vaikunta that is a short drive away
The Thiruvellarai temple dates back to Pallava era as attested by the inscriptions from 8th century in its two rock cut caves

It also remains a functioning pilgrimage center, visited by a few hundreds everyday, notwithstanding its desolate location in the middle of nowhere
The deity of Pundarikaksha (lotus-eyed mahA viShNu) is one of the largest vigrahas I have seen in any temple in Tamil Nadu.

It remains my favorite temple and deity
The temple is very highly regarded in Sri-Vaishnava lore. One of the pre-eminent Divya Deshams (the 108 shrines memorialized in Azhwar hymns). And a temple of considerable antiquity, having been visited by personages as illustrious as Shri Ramanuja himself
Yet the temple remains practically unknown outside of the Vaishnava community in Tamil Nadu.

Few Kannadigas, or Telugu people or North Indians would have heard of Tiruvellarai, notwithstanding its 1200 year+ history
The Gopuram is a sorry sight. One would have thought the place at least deserves a decent Raja Gopuram, given its very high stature in the Sri-Vaishnava community

Yet the dilapidated look remains.
No temple epitomizes Indian indifference to heritage better than Thiruvellarai.

In my view the most under-visited and underrated temple in the country
By the way, one of the reasons I chose to tweet on Thiruvellarai is because it is NOT a defunct ruin

Despite its sorry state, it remains a functioning temple. You have priests in there, and you have pilgrims who traverse long distances to visit it
So that makes it very very different from say abandoned temples like say Kailash temple of Ellora or the Shore temple of Mahabalipuram

Thiruvellarai isn't in that category. It is a living shrine!
Postscript : Here's a one hour upanyasam by the inimitable Velukkudi Krishnan on Thiruvellarai

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