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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Work in progress
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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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Work in progress
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Sri Vatapatrasäyi Temple/Sri Andal Temple, Srivilliputtur


Çré Vaöapatrasäyé Temple/ Çré Aëòal Temple, Srivilliputtur

Çré Vaöapatrasäyé Temple, popularly known as Çré Aëòal Temple is in Srivilliputtur. It is one of the sacred Vaiñëava shrines.

Temple architecture/style/specialty
The majestic Räjagopuram of the Temple is part of the official symbol of Tamil Nadu Government. At 192 feet (59 metres), this 11 or 12-tiered gopuram is now the 4th tallest Gopuram, and is the primary landmark of Srivilliputtur. The Government of Tamil Nadu uses this Gopuram - Temple Tower as part of its symbol (Like Mukteçwara Temple Toraëa is for Government of Odisha).


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
Srivilliputtur
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.
   
Srivilliputtur Gopuram
(Source - Wiki)

                 Srivilliputtur Gopuram  
                 (another perspective)

The Temple has a shrine for Çré Aëòal and a double-storied sanctum of Çré Vaöapatrasäyé or Çré Raìganätha. The Tulasivanam (basil garden), where Periya Äÿwär found baby Aëòal lies between the sanctum and the Aëòal shrine. Çré Vaöapatrasäyé is in the reclining posture (säyé), with Çré Devé and Bhü Devé at His feet. He is named so, since He is resting His head on the leaf of a Banyan Tree. This was the favourite temple of Tirumalä Näyaka (1623-1659 CE) (who built the Madurai temple) and his sister. They were instrumental in the massive reconstruction of the Temple in 17th century.

There is a well outside the sanctum, which was used by Aëòal as a mirror to look at herself with the garland on. The Aëòal shrine was a later addition. It is said to have been built by Periya Äÿwär (Periyaazhvar), with a purse of gold that he won in debates held in the palace of Pandyan King Vallabhadeva.

Deity
The presiding deity in Srivilliputtur is Çré Vaöapatrasäyé or Çré Raìganätha. Garuda Äÿwär is enshrined by the side of Çré Raìganätha. 

Sri Andal has the parrot on her left hand

Sri Minakshi has the parrot on her right hand



I found that the only way to distinguish Çré Aëòal from Çré Ménäkñé is by the way they hold the parrot. Çré Ménäkñé holds the parrot on her right hand, whereas Çré Aëòal holds it on her left.  

History & Legend
Srivilliputtur is situated 80 km from Madurai. This is the birthplace of Çré Aëòal, one of the twelve Äÿwär, and the author of the revered Tiruppavai hymns. The divine child was brought up by Viñëu Chittar (Periya Äÿwär). The girl, by her insatiable love and true devotion to Lord Raìganätha, decided that she would marry only the Lord. At the bidding of Lord Raìganätha, Aëòal was taken to Sri Rangam in a palanquin in bridal pomp and glory. She was led to the sanctum, where she merged with the Lord. She was fourteen then.

Çré Aëòal’s devotional Tamil songs, known as Tiruppavai, are as popular as Mira bhajans. They are sung every morning in Vaiñëava temples, during Tamil month of Märgaçéra (December-January). There are a collection of thirty poems, recounting her mystic experiences.

Festival
The fifth day of Äòi festival (during monsoon/July-Aug) and the sixth day of Märgaçéra festival (Dec-Jan) attract thousands of pilgrims.
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Work in progress
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