We have seen many a pictures of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ tags, but one look at this transformation and you know how faith and a little effort can move mountains. A temple in ruins is not just a place of worship, it is a testimony that once here stood a structure of faith, frequented by devotees. This is the story of the 9th century temple of Shri 1008 Parshwanath Tirthankar at Beniwad, Taluka Hukkeri, District Belgaum. The temple was in a state of ruin due to various reasons. Incidentally, the village does not have any Jain families today. But the villagers have extended all sort of help during the restoration work, going so far as to provide food, water, buttermilk and even electricity. The major damage to the temple was caused due to the negligence of a contractor while laying the irrigation pipeline through the Hidkal reservoir.
A few members of the Jain community, including Shri Vinod S. Doddanavar and Shri Abhinandan Kocheri took up the cause of restoring the temple and repairing it and approached Shri Dharmasthal Manjunatheshwar Dharmotthan Trust for their help. The trust readily agreed to fund a sum of Rs. 10 Lakh under the Government Scheme of matching grants. A Society consisting of prominent people from nearby villages was registered. Any work of such nature requires immense amount of patience and will, which the members have in plenty.
The society began its work by acquiring four of the adjoining houses, so that the temple could get more open space and also for the movement of heavy machinery. The house owners were adequately compensated and the sale deeds were executed in the Hukkeri Sub Registrar office. The temple is located on a plot measuring 4200 Sq. Ft., with compound wall on all sides.
Technical experts from Shri Dharmasthal Manjunatheshwar Dharmotthan Trust estimated the cost of construction at Rs. 15 lakh. The Society raised a sum of Rs. 2 lakh as a margin money for the project and deposited the money with Shri Dharmasthal Manjunatheshwar Dharmotthan Trust. All this was possible because of the generous donations from individuals and institutions from all over India and abroad.
The work began under the supervision of Shri Hariram Shetti, Director of Shri Dharmasthal Manjunatheshwar Dharmotthan Trust. Shri Balappa Kanti and Shri Ashok Rangoli, two retired local government officials initiated to supervise the day to day tasks at the site. Shri. Ramappa Sarapure, a retired KEB lineman, donated his entire retirement fund of Rs. 50000 for the temple work. The foundation stone for the reconstruction work was laid by Shri D. Surendra Kumar of the SDM Trust. The granite blocks were used from Doddaballapur. Some carved stones of the original structure have been retained while the Shikhar has been crafted by Shri. Satpati Shekhar from Andhra Pradesh. Interestingly, no cement has been used in the construction of the main temple which has used the stone interlocking method. This has enabled the temple to retain its old charm.
The work was completed including building of Shikhar and compound wall. The total cost exceeded of Rs. 17 lakh, with contribution of Rs. 10 lakhs from Shri Dharmasthal Manjunatheshwar Dharmotthan Trust and Government of Karnataka. The Idol was polished and given new look. This is the third project of this team led by Shri. Vinod Doddanavar, whose earlier two restoration projects include the Halasi temple and the one at Murkibhavi which is a work under construction.
The consecration ceremony (Panchkalyan Utsav) of the temple will be held from 3rd to 7th February, 2017 at the temple location.
We often come across ruined or dilapidated temples and monuments, but we shrug off the thought of restoration thinking about the limitations of a single person. However, the example above shows how strong will, team work and some support can help conserve our heritage.