The lush green patch inside the Sri Jambukeshwarar Akilandeshwari Temple at Tiruvanaikoil in Tiruchi.   | Photo Credit: M_SRINATH

Tiruvanaikoil temple complex gets a green belt

Fodder for temple elephant and cows in ghoshala being raised inside


Authorities of the famous Sri Jambukeswarar Akilandeswari Temple at Tiruvanaikoil here have created a green belt on an area measuring four-and-half acres inside the temple complex to raise fodder for the temple elephant and cows maintained in the 'ghoshala' so as to avoid buying them from outside.

In addition to raising grass, saplings of various tree species have also been raised inside the large patch that is situated between the East Gopuram and the Sankareshwarar Gopuram inside the temple complex.

The authorities have deployed a team of temple staff and labourers to maintain the green patch and for cutting fodder every day for the elephant christened 'Akila' and for 15 cows, bulls and calves maintained in the ghoshala also functioning within the ancient shrine. Help from donors has enabled the temple authorities in creating the green belt which remained a barren area until a few months ago. The famed Tiruvanaikoil temple situated on nearly 20 acres is a ‘pancha bootha sthalam’ representing one of the five elements - water.

Besides raising ‘koondha panai’ to be fed to the temple elephant and special type of grass, the temple authorities have also planted about 500 coconut saplings, 50 saplings of mango and saplings of badam, nelli, naaval and vilvam trees at different places within the huge area. Besides these, flowers of different varieties such as 'adukku nandhiyavettai', magizham poo, manoranjitham and pavazhamalli have also been grown inside the complex.

A senior temple official said the idea to make good use of the large tract of bushy and barren area near the Eastern Gopuram emerged in June last year. The whole area was at first cleaned up using an earthmover with complete assistance from the temple staff.

A couple of borewells were sunk and the entire area was covered by pipelines and valves all along the stretch for watering the saplings and green grass every day, said the official. A walking path has been created around the green belt to a distance of about 1 kilometres by laying thick tiles. Ever since the green belt was created, green fodder for the temple elephant and cows were no longer being purchased from outside. Only occasionally, dry hay is purchased for the cows. In addition to green fodder, cooked rice and other diet as prescribed by the Forest Department were being fed to 18-year-old 'Akila' which is housed in a separate shelter.

The special type of grass raised on the patch grows automatically after a period requiring watering everyday. Organic manure was being used for the green belt. “Akila relishes the green fodder grown inside the temple,” said the temple official adding that milk from the cows maintained in the 'ghoshala' was being used for abhishekam to the deities, annadhanam and for pooja.