Temples of Tamilnad

“Temples of Tamilnad” takes us to the Tamil-speaking countryside of South India in the early 1950's; to a collection of temples each remarkable for its veneration of the major gods of the Hindu pantheon, Vishnu and Shiva. They often appear in one of their many incarnations, some with a quaint but unhelpful Dravidian name...

The author of this light-hearted account, a mid-career diplomat in search of wide horizons, admits some of the temples are musty with a few lonely scorpions in the upper gopurams. Fortunately these are friends, guides and companions to ward off anxious moments. Then, to leaven the text, you will find the inclusion of some early Tamil poems, alive and startling.

There is a variety of place as well as variety of mood. If Mahabalipuram is serene, sharing the sea's blue qualities, Madurai is powerful, profound and dark. Rameswaram we will find isolated and light. Chidambaram we know to be golden as Conjeevaram but with more musical associations. Tanjore, bold in its early formality. Sri Rangam on an island charged with controversy. Ernaculam on the west coast, reminding us of pagoda styles that in some respects are Japanese. Suchindram, a lonely classic. And further south, the plainness of Kanya Kumari: some Vaishnavite, some Saivite. On islands, or hills, or at the foot of rocks. Or as the pulse of a city's heart, at Madurai.

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