Majority of the devotees spare at least a few minutes on the premises of Pandurangaswami temple here, offering flowers and observing the tortoises in the green waters of the temple well.

For children, feeding the tortoises appears the sole motto to accompany their elders to the temple round the year. “Devotees rescue the India Star Tortoise and leave it in the well, where an uncounted number of tortoises are being conserved for generations in the tiny well of the temple. However, devotees whose wishes are fulfilled will present a tortoise as a gratitude to the god,” one of the senior priests of the Pandurangaswami temple T. Panduranga Rao told The Hindu.

“The belief of presenting a land-crawling creature, otherwise a noble way of conserving tortoises, has been in practice since my childhood,” added septuagenarian Mr. Rao. Temple itself highlights the need for conserving the tortoise with two stone-carved tortoises — one at the entrance of the presiding deity and another at the entrance of the main temple.

“Thanks to the architects and designers of the temple, statues here include those of tortoises, throwing a light on their care,” a few devotees opined. The temple priests explain their theory, according to which a stone-carved tortoise inside the temple teaches a lesson to the devotees on the need of their concentration towards god.

It faces towards the standing deity, asking the devotees to observe how it appears, as if paying complete concentration on the god. The priests said that there was no possibility to count the number of the tortoises in the well. However, devotees offer flowers to the tortoises in a gesture to show their care and love, despite being aware of that they do not eat flowers.