Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hill temple

Reaching the Thirusoolanathar Tirupurasundari temple in the Pallavaram hills, the first thought that comes to mind is - what was it that led Kulothunga Chozhan II to build this temple here almost a thousand years ago? The settlements around the temple are very obviously end of 20th century - and I remember that in the '70s and through most of the '80s only hermits would clamber up the hills to live in the scrub there. There were historic settlements from the Pallava period, but none on this particular hill, near this temple.

Legend has it, however, that this hill was particularly favoured by the Lord Brahma for his worship of the Lord Shiva, because it was surrounded by four other hills. It was this legend which prompted Kulothunga Chozhan II to raise this temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, in his manifestation as Tirusoolanathar (Tirusoolam = Trishul = Trident), accompanied by his consort, Tirupurasundari (the beautiful one). The sanctum sanctorum of this temple is rounded at the rear, a feature that is not very usual in temples of Tamilnadu. Other features that Kulothungan would find unusual are the icons on the roof - all of them are modern, somehow jarring the senses, even if they were without the vivid colouring - and the tiled steps and floor at the entrance - something that has been done without any thought of harmonizing with the rest of the structure....

Even though it is Tirusoolanathar there, the name of the town does not derive from the deity, improbable as it may sound. A churam is a kind of valley, a barren place in between rocky hills; having been made holy, this area amidst the four hills came to be called as Tiruchuram and over time has become identified more with the deity than with the natural formation!


Hilda said...

Despite the colors, it's much more sedate than that really loud one you posted a while back. Maybe because the figures aren't as many. Whatever the reason, I actually like this. I think it's also the idea of a temple in the middle of nowhere (at least, for several decades).

Shantaram said...

@ Hilda: You're right, it was really quaint - better to be in use colourfully rather than be stately and ignored, I guess!