Jun 23 2009
The only temple of Chhatrapati Shivaji is on the verge of collapse. Rain water leakage and lack of maintenance are spelling doom for the 344-year-old Shivarajeshwar temple at the Sindhudurg Fort in Malwan.
The temple trustees say repeated requests to the state government for funds have fallen on deaf ears. They say it is ironical that on one hand the government is spending Rs200 crore to erect a Shivaji memorial off Mumbai’s coastline, while on the other it grants just Rs5,029 per year for the temple. The amount is meant to cover maintenance costs and salaries of the trust staff. “The annual salary of the man who plays the nagaras (temple drums) is just Rs26. Can you believe that? It’s a joke,” said a person associated with the temple trust.
“The roof and walls of the temple have become hollow due to rain water leakage,” said Mangesh Sawant, a devotee who stays near the temple. “The public works department (PWD) is responsible for maintaining the temple, but they do nothing. Because of the continued negligence, I fear the roof will collapse one day.”
The trust needs at least Rs40 lakh to preserve the monument, said Pradeep Vengurlekar, a trustee. “But the policies of the government have our hands tied. Not only does it not increase funding, but it also denies us the right to collect donations from tourists,” he said. “Last year, around four lakh tourists visited the fort. Donations from them could add up to a big amount.
“We have conveyed our concerns to the district administration from time to time, but to no avail.”
The temple has interfaith significance. Among the occupants of the fort — all descended from the 12 families who, the legend goes, were asked by Shivaji to never leave it — is the family of Sadik Sheikh, a Muslim. Sheikh’s forefathers used to play the nagaras.
“Maharaj (Shivaji) had ordered our forefathers to not leave the fort till the sun and moon were there. That is why we continue staying here,” said Sheikh, who fears damage to Shivaji’s idol by the elements. “We collected donations for its restoration, but could not raise the required amount.”
PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal said he had no idea about the temple’s maintenance.
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