Thursday, October 08, 2009

The temple at Tirvuannamalai and a Kaval Deivam shrine

A little busy with work these days, so I have only pictures to offer. The first is of the gopuram (tower) of the temple in the town of Tiruvannamalai, in Tamil Nadu. Notice how the style and color of the gopuram differs from that of the Brihadishwara temple of Thanjavur. Behind the temple is the sacred Arunachala hill which has drawn many saints over the years, the most recent of them, Ramana Maharishi. During the Tamil month of Kartigai (Oct-Nov), a light is lit atop the hill and it is visible for miles around.



The second picture is an informal shrine for kaval deivam -- guardian spirits. I came across it in the countryside between Krishnagiri and Tiruvanamalai. If my understanding is right, these gods are specific to villages in Tamil Nadu -- that is, they are not pan-Indian like say Shiva or Vishnu. More information here and here.

4 comments:

Alex Engwete said...

The gopuram is impressive. Hari, you have any idea when these temples were built? I've always been fascinated by Indian architecture. Another question: Is Indian traditional architecture lost or is it reclaimed by modern architects?...
I also want to take advantage of this comment to inform you that I just launched an English version of my blog on Blogger. I put the link to Thirty Letters in my Name on my blogroll...
Work hard, Hari!!!

Krishnan said...

Yes Hari you are right. Kaval theivams are unique to Tamil land - they are called by various names like Ayyanars,Karuppusamy, Munisamy, etc. It is believed that these were the original gods revered by the people before Hinduism subsumed all small sects during the Bhakthi movement 1000 odd years back.

Hari said...

Alex -- I know the Brihadishwara was built circa 11 century, but am not sure of the Tiruvannamalai temple. There is some information in the wikipedia link. In India, it's hard sometimes to understand the history of a place of worship, partly because these things date back a long time (and their stories get attached to myth) and many empires may have patronized it. Many Indians tend to view a place of worship with reverence; that a place is sacred is good enough; understanding it historically is generally not popular (of course this is a generalization).

Great to see you posting in English, though I wonder if it will be difficult (in terms of the time and effort needed) to maintain two blogs. And it's a privilege to be called a brainiac! Thanks much for linking!

Krishnan -- thanks for confirming my hunch. Hopefully, I'll be able to get some more perspective after traveling and reading more.

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