Travancore Devaswom Board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan’s stance that the board has to construct a temple at Ponnambalamedu, deemed to be the original abode of the presiding deity of Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple in the interior reaches of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, has kicked up a row.

Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran and board member K.Raghavan have taken exception to the TDB chief’s statement.

Mr. Surendran said the board had not even apprised the government of its intention to construct a temple at Ponnambalamedu.

“How could the TDB seek permission from the Centre for the proposed temple without intimating the Forest Department,” he asked. However, Mr. Raghavan said the board had not taken any decision for constructing a temple at Ponnambalamedu.

TDB chief’s stance

However, the TDB chief said he made the statement as an Ayyappa devotee.

Mr. Gopalakrishnan said astrological consultations (Devaprasnom) held at Sabarimala in 1985, 1995, 2001, and 2006 unambiguously referred Ponnambalamedu as the original abode of the presiding deity of the Ayyappa temple.

He said the TDB was bound to implement the prescriptions made at the astrological consultations.

The TDB chief said the board submitted a memorandum to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change in October 2016 stressing the importance of constructing a temple at Ponnambalamedu.

“Ponnambalamedu is a strategically and spiritually important area where the holy ritual of deeparadhana is performed during Makarasankramam and this ritual is performed by the priest at the Pampa Ganapati temple. This area on the opposite side of Sabarimala is not readily accessible and is prone to security threat. An allocation of 2 hectares of land is therefore envisaged for the development of this spiritual area,” the TDB letter to the MoEF&CC says.

Mr. Gopalakrishnan said there would not be any daily ritual at Ponnambalamedu except the deeparadhana on Makaravilakku day.

The head priest at the Pampa Ganapati temple had been designated to perform the Makaravilakku deeparadhana at Ponnambalamedu, he said.