TUNGNATH THE TILTING SHIVA TEMPLE
By Our Special Correspondent
Tungnath Temple, of 8th century, known as the World’s Highest Shiva Temple in Rudraprayag district of the Garhwal Himalayas is tilting five to six degrees as per the Archaeological Survey of India which is more than the slant of Leaning Tower of Pisa. After the shocking sinking of Joshimath in the same region of Uttarakhand this tilting of the historic temple at an elevation of 12,800 feet has rung alarm bells.
According to a recent study conducted by the ASI, there is growing concern surrounding the Tungnath Temple. The study reveals that the temple is experiencing a noticeable tilt of approximately five to six degrees and the smaller structures and images in the complex by 10 degrees. The Pisa tower leaned by four degrees and that too during construction in 1370s itself but the temple was standing straight for hundreds of years.
The experts of ASI will find the root cause of the damage in case it can be repaired immediately. A detailed work programme will be prepared after a thorough inspection of the famous shrine. The Tungnath Temple falls under the administration of the Badri Kedar Temple Committee (BKTC). According to ASI officials, both the Central government and the BKTC have been notified about the temple’s condition and that it should be included as a protected monument. The ASI under the provisions of the AMASR Act, 1958 protects monuments, sites and remains of national importance.
There are already 43 monuments including some temples in Uttarakhand protected by the ASI. The government has initiated the process of declaring it a monument of national importance through due procedure. But the matter was recently discussed in a board meeting where all the stakeholders rejected ASI’s proposition. We are ready to take their assistance in restoring the temple to its original form but without handing it over to them, according to a temple board official.
Interesting part is that even ASI has not ruled out the prospect of subsidence for the tilting of the temple. The officials have said that if needed, the damaged foundation stone will be replaced only after talks with specialists. The agency has fixed glass scales in the temple’s walls to measure any further movement. Built by the Katyuri rulers, Tungnath is revered as the world’s highest Shiva temple, in the Tungnath mountain range. It is also a popular pilgrimage and place has a trekking site, open to visitors from April to November.