Jalakandeswarar Temple – History
According to legend, there used to a giant ant-hill at the location where the sanctum sanctorum of temple now stands. This ant-hill was surrounded by stagnant water, as a result of collection of rain water, and at some time a Shiva Lingam was placed in this water around the ant hill and worshiped. Chinna Bommi Nayaka, a Vijayanagar chieftain was controlling the fort had a dream where the Lord Shiva asked him to build a temple at that location.
Nayaka, proceeded to demolish the anthill and build the temple in 1550 AD, and since the Lingam was surrounded by water (called Jalam in Tamil) the deity was called as Jalakandeswarar (translated as "Lord Siva residing in the water"). The temple was built during the reign of the Vijayanagara king Sadasivadeva Maharaya (1540 - 1572 AD). The temple also has the statue of Sri Akhilandeshwari Amma, the consort of Jalakandeswarar.
The temple was mutilated during the Muslim invasion and capture of Vellore Fort. Following the desecration of the temple during Muslim invasion and rule, worship in the temple was stopped. An Islamic structure was also built to serve as a makeshift mosque, after destroying an Amman (Nagalamman) Temple, which stood on that site. The temple was being used as an arsenal for nearly 400 years.
On the fears of desecration, the main deity was moved away to the Jalakanda Vinayakar Temple in Sathuvacheri for safe keeping. The temple was vacant for nearly 400 years. In 1921, the Vellore Fort was handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India for maintenance. At that time, the temple was not used for worship, and the ASI was keen to maintain this status quo. However, in 1981, the deity was smuggled inside the fort and re-installed inside the temple, and worship re-instated.
Several attempts had been made in the 20th century, to re-instate the main deity inside the Jalakandeswarar Temple. However, the Archaeological Survey of India wanted to maintain the status quo, and did want the temple to be used for worship. However, on 16 March 1981, the deity was removed from the Jalakanda Vinayakar Temple in Sathuvacheri and secretly smuggled inside the fort, hiding it inside a closed truck, and stealthily installed in the early morning hours.
According to AK Seshadhri, author of the book 'Vellore Fort and the Temple through the Ages', The staff of ASI could do nothing to prevent the forcible action of the mob, except watch the happenings and complain the incident to the police and the district collector. The district authorities took no action, saying that this is a sensitive religious matter and therefore any preventive action would lead to a law and order problem.
Consequently, the first Kumbabishekam after re-consecration was held in 1982, followed by 1997 and 2011. For the third Kumbabishekam in 2011, a special gold plated car is made at a cost of INR 30 million, and used nearly 7 kg Gold. In 2006, the 25th anniversary of the re-consecration of the Jalakandeswarar Temple was celebrated by taking out the deity in a grand procession passing through Long Bazaar, Saidapet, Kagitha Pattarai and Main Bazaar of Vellore.
Government Take Over:
On Saturday, 22 June 2013, the Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, Government of Tamilnadu took over the administration of the Jalakandeswarar Temple, at the Vellore Fort, following government order dated 18 June 2013, asking the Assistant Commissioner of Vellore to take over the temple and assume charge as the 'Fit Person' (Thakkar) of the temple. Previously the temple was managed by a private trust called Sri Jalakandeswarar Dharma Sthabanam.
The private trust had opposed the takeover, by approaching the Madras High Court. However, nearly 10 years of legal proceedings resulted in the court ruling in favor of the Government of Tamilnadu. However, the temple structure is owned and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, with only the administration taken over by the government.