Orirukkai Manimantapam — Ganapati Sthapathi’s Magnum Opus!

MANIMANTAPAM Ganapati Stapathi


India trip1


“It was conceived as a mammoth structure and we knew it was not going to be easy,” says S.M. Ganapati Sthapati, convalescing from a recent illness at his son’s residence in Chennai. He has devoted nearly two decades to the shaping of the temple and personally supervises work executed by his son Jayendran and his crew of expert sculptors.

With eyes closed, Ganapati Sthapati goes back to the day Pradosham Venkatrama Iyer, acknowledged as the 64 Nayanmar by Periyava himself, asked him to draw up a plan for a huge temple, completely of stone, for his deity, Paramacharya. “It was difficult to take him seriously. A temple, completely of stone and of the proportion Iyer imagined, was going to cost enormously and where was the land in the first place?”

“Why are you worried about that? You make the plan and we’ll see.” Pradosham Mama was not going to be put off by estimates or other reasons. All he wanted was a temple for the saint, whom he and others looked upon as Parameswara.

“Finally, I made a plan but rolled it up and kept it with me, not mustering the courage to show it to Paramacharya. However, He came to know about it and wanted to see it. I showed it to Him. He spread it out, took one good look and returned it with kumkum. It was interpreted as approval and the hunt for land began,” says Ganapati Sthapati tracing the origin. The rest, of course is history.

“The stone chosen was white granite that has been sourced from Bangalore and no machine is involved in construction,” Jayendra Sthapathi had informed. Also no concrete is being used. Traditional techniques, which Paramacharya wished to be preserved, are employed. Even the foundation was laid in the pristine method using sand.

“We overcame the objections of modern engineers in this regard,” elaborates Ganapati Sthapati. “They were sceptical about the ability of a sand-lime-based foundation to take the weight of a huge temple. But that was how temples, including that of Brihadiswara in Thanjavur, were built. I cited several instances but the argument went on and we decided to seek Periyava’s counsel. Lots were drawn and his choice was traditional method. We took the plunge.”

Right from the Government’s sanction for the project and the availability of stones and their transportation to the perennial well that has been yielding water even during droughts, the making of the Manimantapam is also a story of Periyava’s infinite grace that has rendered the impossible possible.

The serene surroundings echo with the sounds of hammer and chisel as sculptors are engaged in creating beautiful images out of raw stone. Elsewhere, young boys of the Veda Pata Sala chant mantras. The stone elephants, the lion with the rotating ball in its mouth, the elegant chain of perfectly linked circles… the hundred-pillar (to mark Periyava’s centenary) mantapam is replete with work of exquisite craftsmanship. The elephants are white stone polished to a shining black, the caparison and other ornaments standing out in stunning relief. The space above Periyava’s idol in the sanctum sanctorum is vacuum, again a traditional phenomenon.

The massive Nandi is another piece of art. Said to be bigger than its Big Temple counterpart, Siva’s trusted Lieutenant boasts intricate sculpting. The Sapthaswara pillars are getting ready. Crowning glory is the top of the vimanam, carved out of a single stone.

Where does the money come from? “It is Periyava’s grace,” the Trust members say in unison. MS donated generously and after her, devotees across the globe are contributing to keep the project going. A Rajagopuram, mantapam for Nandi, a tank and a compound wall will make the construction complete. “With about Rs. 2 crores and a year of labour, this temple, a dream of Pradosham Venkatrama Iyer, and Ganapati Sthapati’s magnum opus will stand as a tribute to Chola architecture.

“Prof. Nagaswamy, who has been closely following the progress of the project, hugged me during the consecration of the Periyava shrine. ‘You have brought Chola architecture alive in all its grandeur,’ he said. It was Paramacharya’s wish to preserve tradition and with His grace, a formidable task would have been accomplished when the project is completed,” says Ganapathi Sthapati with tears in his eyes.

As a parting gift, the sthapati invites this writer for an illuminating session with him at Orirukkai. “Spend a day with me. I will explain every salient and special feature of this temple, not to boast of my prowess, but to highlight the nuances of our architecture, the skill of our artisans and a great tradition that we have inherited.”

But it might be too technical to understand…

“Mahaperiyava will bestow the capacity (to understand).” Pat comes the reply, tinged with surprise. Of course, he should know. It is this devotion for his art and the Sage who nurtured it that has made Ganapati Sthapati a living legend.


Source: The Hindu

The consecration of Periyava’s shrine and Paduka mantapam took place two years ago and work is moving at a steady pace. With one-third of the project to be completed, Sri Sri Sri Mahalakshmi Mathrubhutheswarar Trust (www.manimantapam.org) is anxious to see the temple rise in all its glory.

Shri Ganapati Stapathi is seen with a sculptor at Garbagriha in Manimandapam at Orirukkai, Kancheepuram in the first picture.

Categories: Devotee Experiences

14 replies

  1. One should go to Kanchi and worship Periyava and orikai mani amntap. Once Sankara nethralaya Sivaram invited me Periya Jayanthi @ Nethralaya. I had the chance to meet SRi Ganapathi sthtapathy and Manyam Sealavam and conversed with them about Mahaperyiva mahimai. and rendered song written by me,heard by Periyava At that time sri Ganapathy Sthapathy asked me to come to Orikai . Subsequently I met sri Athmaram and had been to MS amma’s residence and gave my small contribution and prostrated Periyava Padigai. I had bee to Orikai for Maha kumbabishekam and worshiped Periya and thought about Pradhosha Mama and Ganapathi Sthapathi with tears
    Periya pitchi
    Bharathi Ramachandran

  2. Jaya Jaya Shankara Hara Hara Shankara.. “Whatever we can imagine is real” – the real force is Shri Maha Periyava through whom this imagination is made into reality.. It is pure Sat – Chit – Ananda…


  4. Can somebody please help me with address of Shri Ganapathi sthapathi….Since I do not have the praptham to dharshan mahaperiyava I could atleast prostrate at the very feet of this noble person

  5. It just goes on to show that if God will’s and if our desires are unselfish, it will surely be granted by the divine force and there is no word called as “impossible” for that all pervading parameshwara. Absolutely delighted to read this article. I too did visit the temple in my last visit to Kanchipuram this year march. I think its time to make another trip to spend some quiter moments in Periyava’s presence.

  6. Some 13 years back, Shri Ganapathy Stapathy constructed the Shri Balaji-Padmavati-Durga and Shri Ganesh temple in National Highway Road of our Guwahati City (Assam State), on a vast piece of land donated by the State government. The vimanams and Rajagopurams and granite entrance of the main temple are very beautifully constructed by his team. After 12 years of its consecration the punarudhorana kumbabhishekam has also been consecrated again . The terracotta type Dasavataram and Shri Padmavati kalyana kolam figures in the Kalyana mandapam cum hall are really artistic.

  7. Whenever, we visit Kancheepuram, we never miss to pay our
    Maha Periyavaa and pay Pranams to Maha Periyavaa.
    Mani Mandapam is a nodal example for many Civil Engineers of younger
    generation, which reflects our art and sculptural expertise. Kudos to the Sthapathi.
    Jaya Jaya Shankara Hara Hara Shankara

  8. as stapathi rightly said it is periava who is doing it and it is a marvel. there are staunch devotiees of periava who have donated gold ornaments given to them for their marriage. should we appreciate the husbands who approved or the ladies who just came forward to offer!!!!

  9. Can you please share the address of the temple

  10. I have been visiting this unique monument for Mahaperiyava&hv written a blog with all pics..
    1)Tks to Ramakrishna Mutt who were building the RKMutt temple suddenly decided to switch over to brick n mortar,they Donated all granite stones procured already to this temple.2)Whenever I used to visit there used to be a min of 250 sthapathis sincerely working.They used to show me the unique Stone Chains(very few temples like Porur/Meenakshi amman temple)has this(look for it next time when you go there!I wanted to take pics,which they allowed but they never allowed themslves to be photographed saying “Sir,it is a dedication from us as Sthapathis whose skills have been made internationally famous only by Maha Periyava..total devotion!3)Tho’ my contribution wasn’t noteworthy at all the dedication&sincerity of Aathmanathan from MS’ house must be written in Golden letters here!
    No doubt this is a unique temple of Tamil nadu..one must spend time to see n enjoy intricate workmanship of 21st century sthapathis,keeping in mind the great Chola architecture of the 9th century..
    I salute Ganapathy sthapathy& co.,for their dedication.

  11. Jaya Jaya Shankara, Hara Hara Shankara! Maha Periyava ThiruvadigaLee CharaNam! Mamaskaarams to sri. Pradosham Maama!

  12. An impressive collection of phenomenal temple photos by a devotee in flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/rajushanthi/sets/?&page=2

    Maha Periyava Thiruvadigale Saranam!

  13. All students of architecture and building engineering should be taken here for a study visit.

    I foresee a time when, and a place where, there will come up a wonderful university, like Takshashila and Vikramashila and ancient Kanchi, where Acharyas and shishyas will come from all over the world, and in a space of freedom, fearlessness, enquiry and discipline, will study, interpret, preserve the knowledge of our Rshis, and the very ancient pan-world Dharma (as our Paramacharya has repeatedly said).

    Kanchipuram, or its vicinity, would be a suitable and auspicious place for just such a university. I envisage it spread over a vast area, ringing with the sounds of the Veda, as it is chanted and practiced. There will be Colleges of music,dance, drama, puranas, painting, sculpture, architecture, town-planning, the physical and life sciences, agriculture and preparation of food, warfare – in brief all the Shastras.

    If enough minds dream, the dreams will one day coagulate into reality.

    Om Nama Shivayah.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: