Tuesday, December 27, 2005
One of the most striking features of south India, is the large number of temples. They open to a visitor the vast artistic heritage of our country. Some of the prominent temples are the ones at Kancheepuram, Chidambaram, Thanjavur and Madurai.
The one in Srirangam is a huge one, in fact I am told that this temple which is spread over 150 acres is the only one in the country with seven enclosures: symbolic of the seven elements that make up the human body. Interestingly, the main entrance to the temple faces the south, which is exceptional since normally it should face east. Of course, there is a complicated local legend that accounts for it.
We were here on 21st. The architecture is simply breathtaking, especially considering the fact that building science hadn't evolved to the extent it is today.
We then moved to Thanjavur, one of the most prominent temple towns of India. Because of lack of time, we had to do a hurried tour. Brihadeeswarar Temple or the Big Temple is one of the four temples in the region. It's so vast it takes about three to four hours to go around the whole area. The temple is within a huge fort, and the gopuram is about 200 feet tall. The octagonal shikaram, I am told, rests on a single granite stone that weighs 81 tons. There are lots of inscriptions, and Bharata Natayam dance postures.
We went to the Maratha Darbar Hall, Royal Museum, Maharaja Serfoji Memorial Hall and residence of S Babaji Rajah Bhonsale Chattrapathy, senior prince of Thanjavur. We went to cooperative handicraft emporium, where there were excellent artefacts.