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Historic Bapatla temple gopuram collapses

BAPATLA: A 70 ft tower of the 1,000-year-old Lord Bhavanarayana Swami temple in Bapatla collapsed on Sunday. No one was injured in the incident, temple authorities said. The five-storey tower, or gopuram, had developed fissures recently as the temple is said to be over ten centuries old, they said.

The tower caved in on the outer compound wall of the historic temple but idols of the presiding deity did not suffer any damage in the incident. The temple was constructed during the reign of the Chalukyas in the late tenth century. The tower was renovated in 1803 by Raja Vasireddi Venkatadri Naidu.

A team of experts was scheduled to visit the temple Monday to assess the strength of the tower. The temple was handed over to the Archaeology Department two decades ago when the tower's precarious condition was noticed.

The collapse was attributed to heavy traffic on National Highway 214 which connects Ongole and Digamarru and passes right next to the temple. The structure is said to have been weakened by the vibrations caused by the movement of heavy vehicles on the highway.

Fearing the collapse of the precarious gopuram any time, the officials were not allowing passage of heavy vehicles close to it for the past four days.

Former endowments minister Gade Venkata Reddy blamed the Archaeology Department for the collapse of gopuram. The minister said though he allocated Rs 2 crore for the renovation of the temple when he was endowments minister, the funds were not utilised to repair the structure.

News Posted: 24 October, 2011
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