Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gifts from Chola

Looking

Darasuram was the next chola temple we visited. I fell in love with the place. We had arrived earlier than the usual afternoon opening hours. As we were circling finding the place (the driver we had knew very little places – I was directing him most of the time)

Silk Weaver

As we were looking for the place, we bumped into a man who invited us to come and see how sarees are weaved. I had missed doing this in Kanchipuram. So I accepted his offer on the condition he wouldn’t bug me to buy something. He said okay and we stepped into his lovely house and showed us the process before we sat down to see some of the sarees.

In prayer  lady

The quality wasn’t as good as I would have hoped but I was pretty surprised by the prices he was quoting. Neither did he have the colour I was and still am looking for! So we said goodbye and headed to the temple.

Curious Lion waiting Evening  Siva shakti Nandi Dance temple curious

I loved the huge trees around the temple and the amazing light that day. The architecture is just simple stunning. This to me was grander than thanjore every inch of the wall was carved. The light outside was just stunning!

Seeking I'm 77 Poser Leaving In Between  Moving chariot  Sculpture Peeking light  Bell Towering

Durge

Isn’t this, one of the most beautiful statues of Durga?

Anyway we sat down to wait for the temple to open. That’s when the old man appeared. He slowly made his way to the temple courtyard and sat down near us. As he got ready we realised he was the temple priest and striked up a conversation with him. He told us he was 77 years old and had travelled all over the country working even in Varanasi and now he was here. He was proud about being able to still work but I sensed that life wasn’t that easy.

Thinking

The sweet old man had a lot to share. When opening time finally arrived he opened the temple and did the prayers for us. I left him more datchanai (money gift) than I would normally and got his blessings.

People like him would truly bless you with an open heart.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Cholan's treasures

Nandi @ Twilight

When I was researching the places were I wanted to go, I wanted to visit some of the temples I hadn’t been to which included the rest of the Chola built temples. The Chola’s left some stunning architecture but only the one in Thanjore is well visited as the other 2 are in the middle of nowhere and away from civilisation.

Nandi 

Gangai Konda Chola Puram was the first on my list. I’m not sure if the Nandi here is bigger, but I do think he is more majestic. Wow the temple is just stunning, we arrived before the sunset so while I got lovely blue skies, most of the temple was shrouded in darkness. Still we walked around in the dark looking at the different temples and idols.

The temple from the front Nandis

It’s a pretty huge structure with huge guard statues inside and outside the temple with a green garden on the outside. The chola temples are now under the central archelogical department, which means the temple priests have limited power and less prayers take place. The good thing for some of the temples though are the temple grounds are well looked after, clean and pretty serene. Also foreigners are allowed into these temples.

Twilight

When we were circling the temple, we came upon the Durga sannidhi and I was blown over by the beauty of devi. I sat down outside to sing as we slowly started losing the light. Mom was afraid of the dark spots around the temple and kept wanting us to leave but I really wanted to sit and sing. I remember singing one of my fav songs and when the line Brahmani para bhramani para kala bhairava bhairavi came - a dog appeared out of nowhere and just stood next to me. Dogs are supposed to be the manifestation of bhairavar. So I was pretty surprised. He just waited for me to finish singing, didn’t bark, didn’t sniff, didn’t follow anyone else and just waited for us.

Nandis

When I finished and got up, it followed us out without any sound. When we reached the front it stopped and just looked at us. I was surprised it didn’t follow us to the drink stall nearby.

Anyway as I was getting out, I saw 2 old people begging there. Usually I wouldn’t give anything but given we were the only tourist there for the last hour, I decided I might as well. These weren’t opportunist but really people who had nothing. 

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Kanchi

Resting
Everytime I head to the South of India, we would go to Kanchipuram and Thiruvannamalai. The latter as it’s our family temple and town but the former for it being on the way and that I absolutely love the Kanchi Kamatchi Temple and the Ekambareswarar temple.

sunbathing elephant Disbelief? Concentration peekaboo 
We’d head out of Chennai at 5 in the morning and arrive around 7 am just in time for abhishegam and prayers at Kanchi Kamatchi.

We’d get garlands for devi and somehow we’d get to go into the main sannidi for a good darshan and kunkuma archanai.

A prayer Framed Thinker lost Vanakkam 

This time around we got to meet the head priest who actually asked us to stay for the evening full moon prayers but we had wanted to head to Annamalai and if you read this you’d have realised our folly.

We went around walking around the temple, watched the elephants having their morning bath and sat people watching while I shot them.

sweety

That’s where I met this kid, she realised I was shooting her and decided to pose. Next up we headed to Ekambareswarar temple. It’s one of the pancha bootha temples – earth. This is one of the few temples that are not run by the government. It has its pros and cons. Over here they struggle with finances. I wrote about it a long time ago. Over at Chidambaram – the temple is run by a bunch of useless crooks. I’ll write on that later.

Ekambarar Meditation  working 

I love sitting in the centre courtyard of the temple near the tree and singing. The current tree is a sapling from the original tree. They cut down the other tree as its roots were on the verge of damaging the temple. 

Anyway we were sitting down there singing when a man came around handing out a thirumurai book to selected people. He picked the ones who were praying and not the ones sitting and resting. From the book we gathered he was a rich dude spreading the thrimurai message.

Nandi light 

After sitting there we went out to sit near the nandi. The temple has really nice architecture, so I was busy taking photos of it and the people walking around.

Potrait of a thinker

We finally headed for breakfast around 10 am before my mom insisted on going to Varadarajar Perumal temple. Now that’s one of the temples I dislike going because of the queues, rowdy staff and devotees and the fact that the moment you finally reach the front, they chase you off – jalti jalti. So after one or 2 visits I’ll stop going there.

Ghee?

Anyway I told mom I’m not coming in and walked around outside taking photos. Then I sat down near the flagstaff waiting for mom while watching the devotees walk by. Everyone had a different expression there, some would look up and pray, some would burn champor and most would kneel down.

or at Ground Level? in touch? is God above? I LOVE sodahpotti kannadis* Who likes coconut?? hummm devotion I don't like you either kanchipuram kanchipuram  kanchipuram 

Once mom got back we headed out for our drive to Thiruvannamalai.


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