memories of family outings.....


Rock -Cut Glory

Tamil Nadu is an awsome place for those interested in history, religious architecture, ethnic diversity .....Just hit the road from anywhere to anywhere and be assured that you'll stumble upon "sights" that compel you to stop and explore , every two kilometers .

 Topping the list  are the million temples , old and new :
There are those  New ones, even in the humblest hamlet,  assaulting the eye with vitreous tiled verandahs and  psychedelic little pagodas - merrily splashed with electric  pink, fluorescent green and varnished gilt . which during "sacred" months, are advertised by  hysterically rendered shrill songs, amplified to reach everyone within a 2km radius.

And there are those Ruins , massive pagodas  taken over by weeds and bats, that beckon you to get down and investigate.

 And  there are the Living Legends that have been thriving for a millenium, continually venerated by generations , bridging the past to the present and awaiting the future with self assured majesty and nonchalance.

 Just a short dash away from Base Camp Madurai are two enormous temple complexes - Azhagarkoil , dedicated to Vishnu and Thirupparamkundram, dedicated to Murugan.

One of  The Six Abodes of Murugan. For a rockcut shrine, it is massive. Dates back to Pandyan times, with mantapas added later by the Nayakars . The presiding deity and his family are carved into the cave wall . Its endearing to see Murugan's Peacock in the company of  his brother's mouse and his father's bull , on the same pedestal facing the deities.
The lifesized sculptures of  mythological personalities , found in the pavilions , are exquisitely rendered . Some of them wore strange white balls like some fancy costume. upon investigation it was found that the balls were bits of butter hurled by devotees as votive offerings. If getting pelted with butter pleases the gods, who am I to decry the mess of greasy residue disfiguring the ancient works of art !
 The fine, highly polished, lifesized stone figures of the worshiping king,  on pillars in front of the sanctum , though protected with ugly grills, nevertheless inspire awe when in such proximity . The slower the line of devotees moves, the better ! One can endlessly gawk and admire : the rippling muscles, the intricate jewelry, the fall of silks , the majestic moustache ! Sculpting at its zenith !

The cave temple is supposed to have been a  Jain shrine once. The huge bald  single-rock massif  rising behind the temple is said to contain remnants of old Jain habitations. But  the blistering heat killed off all ambitions of exploration.

Kali in Competition
Happy Narasimha

Pelted with butter

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