Why Mohammed Kaleemulla is the ‘go-to- person for temple restoration

A member of the Karnataka Itihasa Academy, he has helped restore around four temples in six years
The renovated Machalaghatta temple, the work for which was initiated by Mohammed Kaleemulla. 
Image: Deccan Herald

The recent judgment on the Ayodhya land dispute may have created a wedge between the two contesting parties, but there are always people who strive to foster humanity and solidarity in the face of communal upheaval.

Take the case of Mohammed Kaleemulla. He is the go-to person in a tiny district in Bengaluru for protecting temples in his region. A retired Muslim teacher from Nagamangala in Mandya district, Kaleemulla has renovated four dilapidated temples of historical importance in the area.

Kaleemulla who, in the last six years has helped renovate the MachalghattaIshwara is a member of the Karnataka Itihasa Academy. Spending majority of his time looking for old temples that need renovation, apart from documenting his findings, which are on the academy’s website, he has worked towards the renovation of two temples dedicated to Chennakeshava belonging to the Krishnadevraya period in his taluka, reports the Deccan Herald.

He has also contributed towards the renovation of a Basava temple in Hirisave near Channarayapatna in Hassan district. A history enthusiast, Kalemulla completed his post-graduation in the subject after retirement. “I worked in Basaralu in Mandya. There is a Hoysala temple here dedicated to Lord Mallikarjuna. I used to see this every day when I went to work. I wrote about this and it was published in a local paper. This encouraged me to take up more work. I began looking into ancient temples in my region. I soon found that the majority of them lacked maintenance”, he said.

He added that people, in general, lacked awareness about the structure and used to openly defecate there without knowing the importance of the site. Thus, he helped in renovating the temple and asked people to not defecate there.

But Kaleemulla is not the only member of the academy who is working towards the restoration of communal harmony.

In March 2019, neighbours from Muslim and Hindu communities restored a temple in Acchan, a village in the militancy-stronghold district of Pulwama in South Kashmir, The Wire reported. Before the 1990s, Acchan was home to around 60 Pandit families. Like other villages and towns of Kashmir then, the local Pandits of this village migrated after the armed insurgency began. Only BhushanLal’s family preferred to stay back.

Last year, Bhushan approached the Mosque Auqaf committee to inform them about the dilapidated condition of the temple. “Like always, this time also, I received a positive response from my Muslim brothers,” said Bhushan. “We together raised the issue of the temple with a concerned government official. Muslim neighbours helped me at every step.”

In October this year, members of the Muslim community in Basapura, West Bengal donated money to rebuild the Kali temple that was demolished two years ago for widening a village road.

After the infamous incident that broke out between two neighbours of different communities in July this year over parking space in Delhi’s HauzQazi area, a nearby temple was ransacked and damaged. Not only did both the Hindus and Muslims come together to restore the temple, they took out a ShobhaYatrato reinstall the idols in the temple.

These incidents just go to show that though there are forces trying hard to spread hatred and spew venom at minorities, there are always people from both communities – Hindu and Muslim, that work relentlessly and silently to spread the message of equality and brotherhood.


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