Nashik: Restoration Sought for 800-Year-Old Shiva Temple Submerged in Vaitarna Dam

An ancient Shiva temple, dating back 800 years to the Silahar period, resides underwater for most of the year at Vaitarna Dam in Vanjole village, Igatpuri taluka. This historic structure surfaces only during the summer months when the dam’s water level recedes, offering a rare glimpse into the past.

Historical Context and Submersion

In 1972, the land encompassing this temple was acquired for the construction of Vaitarna Dam. Since then, the temple has spent approximately ten months each year submerged under the dam’s backwaters. For the past 52 years, monsoon rains have consistently flooded the area, submerging the temple and preserving it in an unusual state of aquatic concealment.

Architectural Significance

The temple, built in the Hemadpanthi architectural style, is now in ruins due to its prolonged exposure to water. Scholars attribute the temple to the Silahara dynasty, indicating its historical and cultural significance. Originally, the temple complex featured a sanctum sanctorum, antarala (antechamber), meeting hall, and mukha mandapa (entrance porch). Presently, only the assembly hall remains intact. Scattered around the site are various temple relics, including Virgal (hero stones), Mahadev Pinda (phallic symbols of Shiva), Satishila, Vitan Pushyashilpa, Sharabha Shilpa, and Khamba (pillars), which have been dispersed due to water flow.

Call for Restoration

Local tribal leader Lucky Jadhav is advocating for the temple’s restoration. Jadhav believes that reviving this historical site could attract both tourists and devotees, thus boosting local employment and economic development. He emphasized the temple’s historical importance in a conversation with The Free Press Journal, stating, “This temple is of historical importance and I will try to get the archaeology department to take the initiative to restore the temple. Also, apart from saving the temple, if tourism gets financial support, the villages in the area will also be developed and tourism will be boosted.”

Potential Benefits of Restoration

Restoring the Shiva temple could have multiple benefits:

  1. Cultural Preservation: Ensuring that this significant monument is preserved for future generations.
  2. Tourism Development: Drawing visitors to the area, which would increase local tourism.
  3. Economic Growth: Providing employment opportunities for residents and stimulating local businesses.
  4. Educational Value: Offering scholars and students a tangible connection to the Silahar period and Hemadpanthi architecture.

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