" Our culture, language, history and values are vital to uniting us as a Nation"
For my love towards India inspires me to explore it more and more. As I always say that to know a national well you need to know its culture and its history. India is one of the oldest country and you can learn it's history from its architecture.
Today I have started my journey to explore Indian temple architecture. But before I go into deep, want to discuss about some basic details on Indian temples. Indian temples are world famous for its outlandish architectural work. But if you closely see all the structures then you can notice that all are different from one another. Indian temples follow certain patterns. They are mainly three types-
i) Nagara Style- These are mainly you can see in Northern part of India.
ii) Dravidian Style- From the name it's easily understood that these are south indian style of temples and can be found in southern part of India.
iii) Vesara Style- These are hybrid of both Nagara and Dravidian Style of temples. These are mainly found in Maharashtra and Karnataka region.
Today , I am going to discuss about the Dravidian Style of temples.The features which make it different from other two are -
i) Gopuram are mainly gateway of the temples and situated at the entrance of a temple.These are often large and highly decorated, ii) The Vimana is located above the Garbhagriha and often stepped like a pyramid or geometrical in shape, iii) Stupika is an octagonal structure at the top of the Vimana, iv) Sculpture of Dwarpal is present at the face of the Gopuram, v) A distinct feature of Dravidian Style is the presence of water tank in the temple complex and temple complex is surrounded by enclosed compound wall.
Kanchipuram is the best place to know about the Dravidian Style of temples in detail. Kanchipuram is also called temple city and one of the seven sacred places under Hinduism.It was the capital city during Pallava dynasty and during this period there was great development in Dravidian temple architecture. So, I started my journey from Chennai to this sacred place. I arranged a cab from my Chennai hotel. It took hardly one and half hour to reach there and cab cost around 3k including up and down.We started our journey early morning and day trip is enough for Kanchipuram. If any one wants to stay then with the same cab fare you can visit Mahabalipuram which is very nearby and stay at beach resorts. Though we didn't stay there and we returned back to Chennai. Our driver was very well known to that place so we didn't find any hurdles over there.
First we visited Vaikunth Perumal temple and it was dedicated to lord Vishnu. It has been built by Pallava king and there is confusion regarding its time line when it has built but after the Kailashnath temple. It was rectangular shaped temple and Gopuram was there which comparatively shorter than other typical Dravidian Style temple. Above Garbhagriha a very small pyramid structured Vimana was there. Garbhagriha was completely enclosed by compound wall which was highly decorated with sculptures. Some sculptures were depicting different characters of Mahabharatha and this wall was guarded by lion pillars. There was no water tank in the temple complex.
Then we visited Kailashnath temple. This is an oldest structured Dravidian Style temple. After that this style have seen final development during Chola dynasty. Earlier Dravidian temple was mainly cave curving which we can find in Mahabalipuram (UNESCO world Heritage site)- details you will get in my second part of blog.
Kailashnath temple is mainly rock cutting structure and the main structure was built by Pallava king Narasimhavarman ll during 685 CE to 705 CE. Clearly there was a small Gopuram which added later by Mahendravarna lll. The temple was surrounded by highly decorated walls.The temple foundation is made of granite and complex is not that large like other typical Dravidian Style of temples. Pillars are designed with multidirectional mythical lions. There was no water tank but there was a facility for water to come out from the temple. The super structure was made up of sand stone and some pillars are inscribed with Dravidian language and charts which I couldn't read. Inside the Garbhagriha there was 16 facet, black granite built shiva lingam present. There was a narrow path at the back side of the Linga which had two mouths to enter. As per local beliefs one was for birth and other one was for death. If any one can cross that path then he or she can win against death. So I have tried this one and it was kind a adventurous because the path very narrow and to cross it your body should be really flexible enough.
Then we moved towards Ekambareshwar temple. It's well developed Dravidian Style temple and it was built by Pallava king, on later stage it has been developed by Vijayanagara kingdom. It had 4 Gopuram means 4 gateways. Raja Gopuram means main main gateway was one of the tallest gateway in South India. Dwarpal was also present at Gopuram. The temple was having thousand pillars hall and 1008 shiva lingas with 16 faces. There was 3500 year old mango tree preserved whose branches were said to yield four different types of mangoes from different types of branches. One thing I want to mention here that I found the temple priests were very much into earning money in different different way. It will be good if you escape from their trap smartly.
Later on we visited other spectacular temples also. All were very clean and well maintained. The place amazed me in its every corner with its creation, here I got to see a complete chain made up of single rock cutting. Infront of temples, Saree vendors will ask for Saree but it will be good if you ask your driver to suggest you. Our driver took us to a very good saree shop and they were having their own factory there. So we bought 4-5 world famous Kanchipuram saree in lesser than market price. The city is very traditional. Infront of every house wemen makes white Rangoli every morning. My mom bought a Jasmine garland from an old lady and she was so sweet that she tied that to mom's hair without any clip or anything else. The people are there very devotional and cultured.
Atlast I must say if you want to know the indian culture then Kanchipuram should at top of your bucket list and any query if there for this place then you can ask your questions in the comment section. ????????