It was during the second decade of the last century that the imposing shrine, near here, literally met with a watery grave as the KRS was constructed to impound water for irrigation in the Cauvery basin districts.
When this sources reporter visited the spot, work was progressing on a brisk note and more than 80 per cent of the restoration work had been completed. The outer prakara work was being carried out.
The relocation and restoration of the temple of such a proportion was reckoned to be the biggest such project undertaken in the State with private initiative. It had been made possible entirely due to the efforts of Khoday Foundation. Each and every temple stone was removed and reconstructed at Hosakannabadi with trained artisans and sculptors from Madurai and Thoothukudi from Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry working round the clock to recreate the magic of their predecessors.
The original temple was a massive complex and the structure measured about 100 X 60 yards. Experts aver that the temple displayed Dravidian and Chalukyan style of architecture and art historians have been lavish in their praise by crediting it with significant architectural merit.
The complex was described as a symmetrical building enclosed by two 'prakaras' and the outer gate or the Mahadwara had verandahs on both sides, flanked by the yagasala and the kitchen. This was enclosed by the second mahadwara, which led to the inner enclosure and was akin to the Somnathapura temple. A complete description of the original temple was found in the gazette in the first decade of the last century when the temple was still intact and the KRS project was not yet conceived.
The original temple had altogether 46 constituent shrines - 17 each on the southern and northern sides and 12 on the western side - all of which were embellished with 24 murties or idols and ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, besides the figures of Brahma, Saraswathi, Harihara, Hayagriva and Jalasayana. The Department of Archaeology said the temple had a garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum), a vestibule, a middle hall and a mukhya mantapa (main hall). The cell opposite to the entrance had a figure of Kesava (Lord Krishna) and the south cell, containing the figure of Gopalakrishna, was a later addition.
When the temple was condemned for submersion, the villagers, after their rehabilitation at Hosakannabadi, took away the idol and consecrated it in a new temple where regular players were still being offered. But the complex could not be saved and went under water soon after the completion of the dam. Ever since, the temple would surface only when there was a decline in the water level of the dam and thousands of people would flock to the place to get a glimpse of the underwater shrine.
To give a new life to the historic temple, the Khoday Foundation sought permission from the Government to relocate and restore it and undertook the Rs 2.5 crore project.
The new site was about one km to the north of the original site and when fully restored, the backwaters would touch the outer walls of the temple if the water level of the KRS touched 124.80 ft, its maximum capacity.
Once completed, the temple would be another tourist and pilgrimage hot spot.