Leaving behind the city of Chennai, India with its famed IT corridor and concrete buildings, travelling south on the Northern Highway, we come across Tondaimandalam. This region reaches us through the swirling mists of time, a region once ruled by the Pallava dynasty from the 4th century B.C. onwards.
The Village of Uttaramerur
The village of Uttaramerur, an ancient realm rich with history. It was established by the Pallava king Nandivarman II around 750 A.D. to accommodate experts in the four Vedas. It soon grew into a centre of learning and came to be recognised as a meticulously planned, well-administered village. It was planned and laid out according to the Agama prescription with the village hall in the centre--- a lasting example of architectural acumen and achievement.
The village has a number of strategically located temples, most of them bequeathed from ancient history. Among them, the formidable Kailasanatha temple dedicated to Lord Siva is unique because its walls tell us the 1300-year old story of Uttaramerur village. These inscriptions include details of life and administration in the village and hundreds of epigraphs.
Built with bricks on a stone foundation, the temple fell into neglect in later years. An enormous tree standing nearby sent its roots surging into the foundations of the temple. Though the temple stood firm, its masonry developed a large crack. After more than a thousand years, the temple was finally showing signs of wear and tear, mainly due to neglect and lack of maintenance.
The Restoration Team & The Film Producer
REACH is an organisation that was founded by experienced and committed experts to preserve the legacies of our past. Its aim is to restore structures like the Kailasanatha temple using traditional material to take them back to their former glory. In the case of the Kailasanatha temple, this amounts to preserving not only its historical and cultural richness but also showcasing to the world the architectural and scientific expertise of an ancient civilisation.
Joining hands with REACH to record their venture is film-maker MGPL. The company hopes to trace the process of restoration of this ancient Indian temple from a state of dilapidation to its former glory, thereby studying a lost art through modern eyes. It is perhaps for the first time that such a complete process is being preserved on celluloid.
The purpose of this is two-fold: to capture for the sake of posterity the marvels of a thousand year-old art, and also to show through the film the need for preserving our monuments and achieving a necessary connect with history. In short, it will show what has been done and what can be done. The film will be a slice of easily accessible history, invaluable to present and future generations.