|Ganesa temple where a family lived for 60 years/Thanjavur.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/|
Above image: Thopparangatti Vinayagar temple (built during the Vijayanagara period0 on Thoppil Pillaiayar kovil street Thanjavur. look at the ornamental stone images of various deities, etc. make-shift entrance to the house built in the mandapam under the main tower - Raja gopuram. HR& CE issued the eviction order way back in 0ctober 2019 to evict the tenant.............
|Vinatagar temple, Thanjavurtimesofindia.indiatimes.com/|
| Encroachmentof temple. Thanjavur Vinayagar temple hindupost.|
Encroaching upon temple lands or temple mandapams in states like Tamil Nadu has been going on for decades; so are the temple thefts of valuable ayyenpon idols (a mix of 5 metals including gold). In the neighborhood of Thanjavur there were stories of people constructing houses on dry lakes owned by the temples or directly by the state government. Though actions were taken against them, in certain places, such illegal occupation goes unnoticed. A case in point is that an old temple Thopparangatti Vinayagar temple in the prime area of Thanjavur city that is said to have been built in the Vijayanagara period.
Can you imagine that a Hindu family was living there for more than six decades under the Raja Gopuram of a temple comprising an area of roughly 430 square feet in the mandabam that was leased out to one Sabapathi Pillai. You may be in for a surprise if you come to know that a house was built in the mandapam under the Raja Gopuram which serves as the roof of his structure. The derivation of this temple name is related to a funny incident - when he asked for Thoppai Aaram (an ornament around the belly).
Upon the death of Sabapathi pillai, his son one Jayaraman and his wife Shyamala continued to live there converting the mandapam as a functional house with windows, doors, etc. According to the couple, the land was not encroached upon as they had tenancy agreement with the HR & CE that manages the temple on Thoppil Pillaiyar kovil street.
HR & CE issued an order in January 2019 to terminate the tenancy after which it was declared as encroachment and steps were taken to retrieve the Gopuram. As the elderly tenants refused to move out HRCE, having no other alternative, stepped up their move by way of following anti-encroachment drive. They demolished the entrance wall of the Gopuram and reclaimed it. HR & HC has a plan to restore the old temple as per the wish of the Hindu community of this place. The joint commissioner of HRCE would get in touch with higher-ups and once the renovation is done, there is a proposal to reinstall the Vinayaga idol there inside the mandapam under the gopuram. There will be regular puja rituals as in other temples.