The Madurai bench of Madras High Court Friday stayed a meditation camp scheduled to be held at Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur, which is part of the Unesco World Heritage site, Great Living Chola Temples. The order came on a petition that challenged the camp organised by Bengaluru-based Art of Living Foundation of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on the temple premises.
The PIL, filed by N Venkatesh, prayed for cancellation of permission granted to the meditation camp, citing that the temple was a place of worship protected by Archeological Survey of India (ASI).
Besides issuing an interim stay order and directing the district collector, SP and ASI to enforce it, the court also ordered to remove the temporary structure erected next to the temple structure.
In his petition, Venkatesh alleged that the temporary structure, a tent to conduct the camp programme for about 2,000 people, was erected without ASI’s permission.
The petition cited the 2016 case in which National Green Tribunal imposed a fine of Rs 5 crore on Shankar’s foundation for organising an event that caused damage to Yamuna floodplains. The petition accused temple authorities of granting permission without considering the need to preserve the monument.
Soon after the high court order, the camp was shifted from the temple premises to a wedding hall near Thanjavur town.
Suresh Babu, a spokesperson of Art of Living foundation, said they erected the tent and made arrangements only after receiving permission from temple authorities. “We approached Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department,; they sent our request to ASI, and finally ASI forwarded the same to temple authority which gave us the permission.