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Hayagriva Madhava Temple At Hajo In Assam Rescues Extinct Black Softshell Turtle

Hayagriva Madhava Temple in the Hajo pilgrimage centre in Assam has provided a safe haven to the softshell turtles. Hindus consider them as sacred, the incarnations of Lord Maha Vishnu, so they believe it is their duty to protect them from harm.

The black softshell turtle is officially extinct in the wild, but the centuries-old Hindu temple and its nature-loving caretaker are helping them back to life.

Recently 35 turtle hatchlings, including 16 black softshells hand-reared at the temple, was released into a nearby wildlife sanctuary.

According to an AFP report, a key figure is the caretaker of the temple pond, Pranab Malakar, who long before environmentalists became involved took a keen interest in the turtles' wellbeing. Malakar collects eggs laid by the turtles on the banks of the pond and hatch them into an incubator.

The initiative has become a successful model so that they have identified 18 other temple ponds in the area which could be used for the same purpose.

Popularly known as Hayagriva Madhab Mandir in Assamese, the 6th century AD temple belongs to the Pala Dynasty and is located atop the Manikuta Hill which is around 24 km from Guwahati. the capital of Assam.
The temple is dedicated to the Hayagriva manifestation of Lord Vishnu. In this form Vishnu is with the horse head.