Friday, February 27, 2009

Complex entrance

Here's one more rajagopuram; unlike the one pictured on this blog earlier, this gopuram is as old as the temple and not a later addition. Also, this is the entrance not just to one temple, but an entire complex, with at least 10 sannithis (sanctums), a goshala (dairy) and lots of space, both open and covered, for devotees to sit awhile. There is also a garden with 27 nakshatra lingams - according to lore, the 27 stars of the Hindu lunar calendar have worshipped at this temple at some time or the other.

It does appear to be a temple beyond time; the stones on the outer wall appear to be sagging from the weight of the ages, but most of the complex is reasonably well preserved. Inscriptions on the temple pillars date it back to the time of the early Chola kings, about 1500 years ago. Looking at it from the bustle of present day Chennai, or even British Madras, Tiruvottiyur appears a rather odd location for such a large and prestigious temple. The Thyagarajar temple (or more completely, the Thyagaraja Swamy udanurai Vadivudaiamman temple) is therefore a very visible reminder of the existence of a thriving town - one among several that have now been embraced by Greater Chennai - long before the British arrived.


Hilda said...

Oh I like this so much better than the colorful new one! The sculptures are much more finely made and I like the subtler colors. The complex as you describe it sounds fascinating. I hope you can take us inside one of these days.

Shantaram said...

@ Hilda: You don't have to wait - you can see some pictures inside the complex here!