Showing posts with label Temple Architecture - Tamil Nadu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Temple Architecture - Tamil Nadu. Show all posts

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Sri Rämaswämi Temple, Kumbakonam

Sri Rämaswämi Temple, Kumbakonam

I would have just bypassed Sri Ramaswami Temple unless Pujya Swamiji had specified to see it while going to Kumbakonam. He said that it was the only temple, where Sita is on the same pitham as Rama. So naturally, I was dying to see this unique temple.

The first visit was on 1st July, 2010 night. The second more relaxed visit was next day 2nd July 2010 morning. The third visit was on 16th August 2012, and in the priority list was the third (after Kumbeçwara and Särangapäni).

The Gopuram


 The Carved Pillars
The sixty-two pillars in front of the mandpam are great works of art. They hold individually Räma standing with Kodanda, Sitä, Hanuman, Räma and Sitä sitting together, many ornamental ladies, and a lady with sophisticated footwear.








  
The Temple
After the mandapam, is the temple entrance that has has two fierce-looking dvärapalas.



  
Below there are paintings of two rogue elephants lifting two persons on their trunk.






The sanctum enshrines coronation form of Lord Räma. Huge stone image of both Sri Räma and Sri Sitä are seated on the same pitha (reportedly a rare honour given to Sri Sitä) flanked by brothers Bharata with cämara on Sita’s left, Lakshmana holding the Kodanda on Räma’s right, Satrughna holding (?) standing further to Lakshmana, on Räma’s right. Hanumän is placed facing Lord Räma playing a Vinä singing in His praise with a text in his left hand. The colossal life-size images is similar as in Sri Rangam, except that here they are in sitting and standing posture/s.
  


The utsava-vigraha of the Sri Räma, Sri Sitä, Lakshmana and Hanumän is placed before the mülavigraha. Images of the mülavigraha, at least of Sri Räma and Sri Sitä are clearly visible from the road.
  
Temple Paintings





Scenes from Rämäyana are painted on three walls of the prakäram, numbered and catalogued.




  
Some of the striking ones were photographed by me. One can easily differentiate the limitation of a 2-dimensional presentation of such paintings, after appreciating the three-dimensional presentation introduced in Indian Art by Raja Ravi Verma.




A priest was chanting Rämäyana, and refused to accept our dakshinä.

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Kanyäkumäri Temple, Kanyäkumäri


Kanyäkumäré Temple, Kanyäkumäré 

Kanyakumari is picturesquely situated at the tip of India, at the confluence of the three seas, Bay of Bengal on the left, the Arabian Sea on the right, and the Indian Ocean in front. Its fame as a pilgrim centre dates back to Puranic era.

A small gopuram on the northern entrance of the Temple leads one to the sanctum. The beautiful image of the Devé in resplendent glory, with a rosary on her right hand denoting tapas bestows the devotees with immense spiritual energy and peace of mind. The day I visited she was not wearing her famous diamond nose ring, but her gold nose ring was shining brilliantly nevertheless.

Lord Ganeça, Sürya, Bäläsundari, the utsava - processional image of the Goddess and Lord Ayappä have separate shrines on the prakärams. A well inside the second prakäram, known as Müla Gaìgä Tértham provides water for Devi’s abhiñekam.

Sunrise and sunset seen from the shores are brilliant spectacles. From our hotel windows while I was videoing the rising sun, I could see the whole locality watching the sunrise.

Though sunrise can be viewed round the year, sunset is clearly visible only from around October 15 to March 15. On the evening on Chitra Purnima (April-May), one can witness the rare spectacle of sunset and moonrise simultaneously.


The dakshinavarta conch which is revered in our culture, and used in all temples for abhishekam are available at throwaway price on the shops on the beach. The conchs reportedly regularly available on the Kanyakumari sea beach, and are picked up for sale. I bought three good ones to gift away.

Vivekananda Rock Memorial
Kanyakumari is also famous for the Vivekananda Memorial and Tiruvallur. On two rocky islets just off the shore, southeast of the Kumari Amman temple, are the Vivekananda Rock Memorial built in 1970. One of the rocks, called Sri Pädaparai, is said to bear the footprints of Kanyakumari. Swami Vivekananda is said to have meditated on this rock for three days. Also on this rock, there is a Dhyana Mandapam, an area for meditation. Ferry services are available to reach the memorial.



 


Tiruvalluvar
A 133-feet (41 m) tall statue of Tamil Poet-Saint Tiruvalluvar is on another rocjy islet. It is one of the biggest statues in Asia, completed in 2,000 by sculptor  V. Ganapati Sthapati.

Somehow, I felt the place has become more famous for these two places than the original Kanyakumari Temple. It is like Mount Abu now being more popularly known as the centre for Brahmakumaris, than the i) two exquisite Dilwara Jain Temples that it houses, and ii) the Çaìkara Maöh.

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Monday, 22 October 2012

Rämasetu in Dhanushkoti

Rämasetu in Dhanushkoti

To reach Dhanuskoti, one has to walk three km along the shores. When I visited the place taking a taxi from Rämeswaram, I was not aware of the 1964 devastating cyclone. I wondered why such a significant place was so poorly connected. I wanted to have the glimpse of the Rämasetu naturally, if it was possible. Having come to Rämeswaram, I could not have gone back without seeing Dhanushkoti.

Naturally, the trip and the experience was rather disappointing, scary and confusing. I walked along the shores. The waters of Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea were indeed distinct.




Coming back to civilisation, much later I read about the 1964 cyclone in a newspaper. I satisfied myself by seeing the NASA images.







Why am I labeling Dhanushkoti under Temple-Architecture. Because it is of significance. When I start documenting north India subsequently, I will be covering River/s, Trees etc. Secondly, isn’t Ramasetu of archaeological importance?

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Rämanäthaswämi Temple, Rameswaram

Rämanäthaswämi Temple, Rameswaram
                                       
Another well-known example of the late Dravidian style is the Rämanäthaswämi Temple at Rämeçwaram, where the famous bridge built by Çré Räma’s to reach  Sri Lanka is still seen with NASA pictures.

One of the 12 Jyotirliìga-Temple
Rämeçwaram is one of the twelve Jyotirliìga-Temples, where Çiva is worshipped in the form of a Jyotirliìgam meaning ‘pillar of light’.

Reference in Sanskrit Epic Rämäyaëa
The Temple is closely associated the Rämäyaëa and Çré Räma’s victorious return from Sri Lanka. The Temple of Çré Rämanätha stands on the eastern shore of an island, which is shaped like a conch, which Lord Viñëu bears in one of His hands. A magnificent railway bridge over a kilometer long and constructed at the beginning of the twentieth century connects it with the mainland.

The Rämeçwaram Temple consists of two shrines, which are enclosed by three prakärams - concentric walls. The outermost enclosure which measures 268 metres in length, and 205 metres in width is a plain wall 6 m high with four gopurams, built in keeping with the best traditions of 17th century.

Räjagopuram



Rämeçwaram Räjagopuram is also quite striking and is the 9th tallest Gopuram in India.


Famous Gopurams*
Place
Tier
Height
Builder
1
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
Trichy
13-tiered
240 feet
1980
2
Arunachaleswara Temple
Tiruvannamalai

217 feet

3
Ekambareswara Temple
Kanchipuram

194 feet

4
Sri Andal Temple
Srivilliputhur
11-tier
192 feet

5
Southern Rajagopuram of Minakshi
Madurai
9-tier
-1511 sculptures
160
feet
Sevvanti Murty Chettiar in 1559 CE
6
Eastern Rajagopuram of Minakshi
Madurai

153 feet
Maravarman
Sundara Pandyan
7
Sarangapani Temple
Kumbakonam
12-tier
146 feet

8
Suchindram
Kanyakumari

134 feet

9
Rameswaram
Rameswaram

126 feet

*Why do I give this Table every time. So that each write-up is independent, and one can visualise immediately.

1000-pillared Hall/Corridor
By far, the grandest part of the Temple is the 1,219-metred pillared corridor that is the longest corridor among all the Temples in India. The 3.6 meter high pillars are big blocks of granite, richly carved and well proportioned. The pillars run uninterruptedly for a length of nearly 230 meters.



Some Thousand Pillared Halls
No. of Pillars

Rameswaram
1,212
longest in India
Madurai
985
Some Pillars are Musical Pillars
Sri Rangam
936

Chidambaram



Puranic Legend
According to tradition, the bridge here was built for Çré Räma to cross over to Sri Lanka when He set out to recover Devé Sétä. Since it was built by Çré Räma Himself, who in time-honoured tradition built the Temple, it is held in particular reverence. After killing Rävaëa, He returned to India (in whatever name it was known then, and in a place (now known as Rämeçwaram) he offered worship to Lord Çiva to expiate the sin, caused by killing a brähmaëa. Intending to set up a liìga, He directed Hanumän to bring one from Kailaça within a stipulated time. Hanumän was delayed. Meanwhile the propitious/auspicious hour for installation having arrived, Devé Sétä herself prepared one with sand, and offered it worship. This is the liìga of Çré Rämanätha in the Temple. When Hanumän returned with a liìga, he found that he was rather late. He was upset, and attempted to uproot the Rämaliìga, but failed. To pacify him, Räma directed that the liìga brought by Hanumän, the Viçvaliìga should also be set up, and that worship should be first offered to it. This is the second liìga worshipped in the Temple.

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Sunday, 21 October 2012

Sthänumalayan Temple, Suchindram

Sthäëumälaya Temple, Suchindram

The Suchindram Temple is located about thirteen km from Kanyakumari, and six km from Nagercoil. It is considered one of the unique temples in the country.

The Räjagopuram is 134 feet tall, richly decorated with Puräëic characters. After the Räjagopuram is a tree believed to be 2,000 year old.



Deity
It enshrines Sthäëumälaya, the Trinity (Sthäëu=Çiva, Mäl=Viñëu and Äyan=Brahmä). The single image of Sthäëumälaya represents all the three aspects. The bottom part represents Brahmä, the middle Viñëu, and the top Çiva. (The understanding becomes clear when one reads the legend of Åñi Atri, his chaste wife Anasüyä, and her encounter with the Trinity).

Legend
Suchindram is known as Jïänäraëyam. According to a legend, Maharñi Atri and his wife Anasüyä, known for her chastity had their hermitage here. Anasuyä could bring rains to the parched land by sprinkling the päda-tértham of her husband.

Temple architecture/style/specialty
The Temple is famous for its skillful architecture and beautiful sculptures. The 134-foot-tall gopuram is visible to the pilgrim (including me) from a long distance. It is the 8th tallest Gopuram in south India/India. 


Famous Gopurams*
Place
Tier
Height
Builder
1
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
Trichy
13-tiered
240 feet
1980
2
Arunachaleswara Temple
Tiruvannamalai

217 feet

3
Ekambareswara Temple
Kanchipuram

194 feet

4
Sri Andal Temple
Srivilliputhur
11-tier
192 feet

5
Southern Rajagopuram of Minakshi
Madurai
9-tier
-1511 sculptures
160
feet
Sevvanti Murty Chettiar in 1559 CE
6
Eastern Rajagopuram of Minakshi
Madurai

153 feet
Maravarman
Sundara Pandyan
7
Sarangapani Temple
Kumbakonam
12-tier
146 feet

8
Suchindram
Kanyakumari

134 feet

9
Rameswaram
Rameswaram

126 feet

*Why do I give this Table every time. So that each write-up is independent, and one can visualise immediately.


On the eastern corridor is the shrine of Lord Dakñiëämürti. (Lord Dakñiëämürti is similarly placed in Äpadsahäyeçwara Temple, Alangudi, near Kumbakonam).

The face of the Gopuram is covered with sculptures and statues from Puräëas. There is a covered area in front of the main entrance, and the entrance itself is 24 feet high with a beautifully carved door. There is only one corridor running along the other wall of the Temple with many shrines and maëòapams scattered in the inner area.

History
The structures were mutilated by iconoclastic invaders like Tipu Sultan, Chanda Sahib (---1752), the Nawab of Karnataka etc. whose soldiers looted the temple wealth. Some of the mutilated figures were later reconstructed.

There are about 30 shrines dedicated to various deities within the Temple-complex. There is a large Lingam in the sanctum, an image of Viñëu. Facing the sanctum is the nearly 800-year Nandi painted white. It is 13-feet tall, 21-feet long and 10-feet wide, and is made of lime and mortar.

Hanuman
There is an imposing image (22-feet tall) of Çré Hanumän facing Çré Räma’s shrine. It is said to represent the viçvarüpa of Çré Hanumän as shown to Çré Hanumän Sétä at the Açokavanam in Lanka. It is sculpted out of a single granite block. The image is mostly covered with butter offered by the devotees. The Hanumän figure was kept buried during the Islamic invasions, and was reinstalled later.


  Navagrahas
Another unique feature of the Temple is that the Navagrahas are not resting on a platform, but are suspended from the ceiling. The Temple has also nine musical pillars, one for each swaram and one having the sound of the mådaìgam. The pillars are carved out of monolithic granite blocks. The Temple, which attracts both Vaiñëava and Çaiva devotees, is indeed an architectural wonder.

Tirumalä Näyaka (of Madurai Temple and Srivalliputtur), and later on the Maharajas of Travancore bestowed the temple with huge endowments. The temple is a storehouse of some of the best specimens of south Indian art.

Festivals
The two most important festivals are in Markazhi (December/January) and Chitrai (April/may). During the Markazhi festival, on the 9th day, the deities are taken out in procession around the streets on the three festival cars.


In the study of Vedänta, we have çravaëa (listen), manana (reflect on what is listened to), and nididhyäsana (contemplate on that). Gradually documenting all the temples I have seen so far, is becoming like darçana (seen earlier), manana (happening now), and nididhyäsana (as and when I compare any similarities in the architecture, or growth of temple-architecture, or development of styles).
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