Infosys Foundation on Thursday introduced work on an ambitious project to restore Panchakalyani, the largest of 108 ancient temple tanks with a history of 1000 plus years at Melukote in Mandya district. The task will take 2-3 years for completion and is expected to cost about Rs 10 crore.
Foundation chairperson Sudha Murty, Tourism Minister S.R.Mahesh and Minor Irrigation Minister C.S.Puttarajuconducted “Bhoomi Pooja” for the project in the temple town, famous for its Cheluvanarayana Swamy temple, and scenic sites widely captured by the South Indian moviemakers.
The Foundation has roped in archeologists, historians, and architects, among the others, and will restore two Kalyani (ancient temple tanks) initially. , Murty told ET. The Panchakalyani is among the most witnessed monuments in Melukote, which has several ancient water bodies situated on a hilltop through which rainwater has been harnessed for many centuries. This harnessed water has historically been utilized for consumption and irrigation.
Chief Minister H.D.Kumaraswamy and Minister Mahesh have offered Rs 4 crore as government’s contribution to the project. “The government wants to give this money to the Foundation by waiving the tender clause, but we are not looking to accept it. We have never accepted money from the government for our projects, and this is the first time, the government has written to us, offering us the money. The CM has says that Infosys Foundation has been spending on restoring Kalyani in Bengaluru and elsewhere, and the government too wanted to do its bit,” Murty said.
She confirmed to take up restoration work at Panchakalyani after she visited the site during the Dasara festivities. She found the tank was in a bad shape, littered with beer bottles. “In Italy and Egypt, for instance, they spend a fortune to excavate and restore ancient monuments. Tourists are willing to pay a high fee to visit these places. In India, we have great pieces of history in our backyard, but we don’t bother to conserve them,” she said.
Melukote, she said, was patronized by the great empires of Hoysala and Vijayanagara, and the Wadiyars of Mysuru. “The restoration project is important to improve the water quality of the lake and bring back balance in the natural ecosystem of Melukote,” she said.