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Trichy: A one-and-a-half-foot-tall Shiva lingam submerged in a tarn of a hill at Narthamalai in Pudukottai district was retrieved by a group of youth with the help of local people on Friday. This was done after pumping out water up to 20 feet deep using motor pumps, which revealed the small cave as well as the Shiva lingam carved long ago.

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While the exact period of the lingam could not be ascertained, archeologists say there are references to its existence for over a couple of centuries. The tarn is located under two cave temples dating back to seventh and eighth centuries, which remained inundated for the past several decades. It was a group of 12 youngsters under the banner of ‘Yaadhum Oore Yaavarum Kelir’, which decided to retrieved the Shiva lingam by visiting the temple a couple of months ago.

On being informed by one of the priests at Chithannavasal temple, V Parthiban, 32, led a team to the spot and started work on Monday. “We could pump out the water using water pumps but the sludge deposited at the bottom could not be removed. Therefore, we roped in locals who offered their help and we could accomplish the work on on Thursday,” he said. “An inscription dating back to 1872 near the cave narrates the worship of the Shiva lingam by locals during the period of Ramachandra Thondaiman, ruler of erstwhile Pudukottai princely state,” said J Raja Mohamad, 73, former curator of Pudukottai government museum. It would have been a laborious task to dig such a deep tarn though it may have been much shallow before sculpting the Shiva lingam inside the temple, he added.

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