INDIA, November 6, 2017 (Swarajyamag by Swami Venkataraman): In April 2016, a more than 1,000-year-old temple, built by Rajendra Chola-I in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, was pulled down by the state government in the name of renovation. The government said the temple was only dismantled and would be put together again. In May 2010, the temple tower of the famous 500-year-old Kalahasti temple in Andhra Pradesh, built by King Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara, collapsed. A UNESCO report released in August 2017 raised alarm that the Tamil Nadu government, which manages more than 36,000 temples, neither had the capacity nor qualified experts to carry out conservation work, leading to the “massacre” of ancient temples. These magnificent temples would be national treasures in any other country, and protected with great care. Tamil Nadu’s temples are indeed known globally, but the sheer scale of the treasure is unappreciated (dozens or hundreds of temples are over 1,000 years old) and numerous gems languish in obscurity, crumbling away for lack of care.
This sorry state of affairs is the direct result of temples being managed by callous and corrupt state governments. Several Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HRCE) acts have allowed states to assume financial and managerial control of more than a hundred thousand Hindu temples. These HRCE departments are headed either by a cabinet minister or by ostensibly autonomous boards. According to a Supreme Court judgement, governments are free to appoint Marxists and non-believers to manage these departments.