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Temples: History, Architecture & Distribution - 2

Pioneer, 22 August, 2007
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Rs 600 cr gold temple to be consecrated in TN

K Venkataramanan | Chennai

A temple made of more than a tonne of gold, said to be grander than the Golden Temple in Amritsar, will be consecrated in the northern Tamil Nadu town of Vellore on Friday, a spiritual organisation that has built the temple said here on Tuesday.

The temple called 'Sripuram' and dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi, but open to devotees belonging to all religions, has been built by the Sri Om Sakthi Narayani Peetam at a cost of Rs 600 crore, the spiritual organisation's office-bearers said.

The temple, spread over 55,000 square feet, is located on a sprawling plot of 100 acres at Malaikodi near Vellore, about 150 km from here, by the organisation run by a 31-year-old religious leader who calls himself 'Sri Narayani Amma'.

Except for a walkway that runs through the complex, the entire structure is made of gold and copper, and contains many intricate carvings and sculptures in gold.

It took six years for about 400 goldsmiths and copper craftsmen from the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam to complete the structure, according to P Murali, trustee of the Peetam.

The temple structure was first covered with a copper coating, and then draped in nine layers of gold beaten into foils.

The main deity, Mahalakshmi, stands in granite stone, but the idol has been plated with pure gold.

The star-shaped pathway leading to the temple has messages of 'Amma', who has conceived and designed the place of worship, and quotations from the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible and the Koran displayed on both sides.

"The temple is Amma's gift to mankind," an official of the Peetam said. Devotees say it is will be recognised as one of the 'wonders of the world'.

Officials say the gold had been procured in the form of bars through the Reserve Bank of India in a transparent manner, probably using funds raised from philanthropists and devotees.

<span style='color:red'>Lightning damages Mylai rajagopuram</span>
Wednesday August 22 2007 10:32 IST

CHENNAI: A portion of the yazhiimage on the left side of the rajagopuram of the famed Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore here was damaged on Tuesday evening in a powerful lightning strike.

Eyewitnesses said the lightning struck around 6 p.m. when the city received heavy showers. A girl and two others sustained minor injuries when the damaged portion of yazhi and two of the suthais(divine images) fell on them. Chief Minister M Karunanidhi was informed of the incident.

As word spread, devotees thronged the temple in large numbers to see the damaged tower. Some of them believed it to be a bad omen. To ward off evil, the temple priest performed parihara pujas to the presiding deity and routine rituals followed till the closing time of the temple. Priests would perform balalayam in a few days time.

Joint Commissioner of HR&CE P Dhanapal and Temple Executive Officer M Devendran inspected the scene. Devendran said the damage was minimal as lightning conductor was installed on the tower. Sculptors would assess the damage on Wednesday and carry out repair works.

This is the second incident in which the rajagopuram of a famed temple has been damaged in recent times.

A fortnight ago, the kalasam atop the rajagopuram of Sri Kumbeswarar temple in Kumbakonam was damaged due to climatic change.

Gold-coated temple near Vellore attracts thousands

The big story is that the temple in Vellore was started on 8/24/07 which is Varalakshmi vratham day.


Sidhpur temple: buried
(with pix)

"In order to reveal artistic finds that tell the story of its society and culture, it is a very important that the story be told <b>without fear </b>so that artistic appreciation and understanding of its deeper meaning and content can lead to a sense of cultural identity and pride."
<span style='color:red'>Sri Har Mandir, Malinagar Bihar</span>

On the banks of Old Gandaki river, on the lands of the earstwhile princely state of darbhangA, and presently in the samastIpur distt. of bihar, is a village called mAlInagar. The village itself is non-descript, except for a 'forgotten' temple of 12/13th century, that it has.

On one side of the river lies samastIpur, while on the other darbhangA. On the samastipur side is this village. During the heavy rains, the river is often flooded, causing enormous desctruction to both sides. Right on the banks lies this temple known by the locals as Sri Har Mandir.

The temple, actually a complex of twin temples - of Sri Ram, and of Bhagwan Siva, was constructed by some "mahathA" (Mehta?) gold-merchants from Gujarat, as the shilA-leka located here proclaims in sanskrit-prAkrit. Then later there was certain dispute between the wealthy merchants and the king of darbhangA - due to which the merchants left mAlInagar, although the descendant mahathA-s still patronize the temple.

<img src='http://inlinethumb52.webshots.com/24627/2407462780100818794S425x425Q85.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

Siva temple is the older one, while Rama temple was constructed 25 years after it, as per the shilA-lekha. Siva temple is very unique. The large shiva-linga which is worshipped here, displays the face of Godess Parvati growing upon it. The linga also has a thousand tiny shiva-linga-s "sprouting" on it - making it a 1001 shiva-lingas in one. Or, are these sahasra-lochana-s, the thousand eyes of Siva - as Ravana recited in the tAnDava-strotram?

<img src='http://inlinethumb47.webshots.com/23982/2130656050100818794S425x425Q85.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

Guarding the entrance to the gopuram is a trimurti - Sri Kartikeya on the left side , Sri Vinayaka on top, and Sri Bhairava on the right side of the entrance. Like Godess Parvati's face on the main Linga, this pratima of sri kArtikeya has his face emerging from a small round shiva-linga too. All these vigraha-s are in black sand stone.

<img src='http://inlinethumb24.webshots.com/23191/2479585120100818794S425x425Q85.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

The walls, roofs and other surfaces of the temple are painted in colourful and bright paintings depicting themes from (especially Siva-) Purana, particularly the Siva-vivaha / kumara-sambhava episode. Style of course is madhubani, but with inflence from early Rajput or Jain-style paintings.

The other temple - that of Bhagwan Ram - originally had only the vigraha of Sri Ram, but over time the other murti-s have been added to it, and now besides the main pratima of Bhagwan Ram - one can not miss observing this - the rest of the pratimas look more like a show case arranged in a room.

The caretaker Sri Bajpai-ji explains the phenomenon. He told that it was indeed only a Ram-Sita-Lakshaman temple, guarded by Hanuman and Garuda. This area is prone to natural disasters like floods and earthquakes (and of course ghazi invasions). So, as and when any other temple in the area - even faraway - had any such calamities, its dev-pratima found a place in this temple. And eventually it became what it is now in. The fact is very clear by the different style, stone, size and colour of the pratima-s in Sri Rama temple.

The outer Shikhara of the two temples are of the same height and overall dimensions but different in style. And while there is a trishUl on top of Siva temple, there is a chakra on top of Rama temple.

Sri Bajpai-ji also points to another feature of the temple - the parikramA-dIrghA - which is kind of interesting. The circumambulation path is arranged in a way that the devotee does a parikramA of Siva alone, Rama alone, and then both Siva and Rama together. Kind of shows the unity of Saiva and Vaishnava.

Then Bajpai-ji mentions another important heritage. Father of the Hindi prose - Babu Devaki Nandan Khatri - spent his days writing masterpiece ChandrakAntA santati in this temple. He shows a marble platform - takhta - which Khatri used to use, and also points that Khatri had mentioned the temple in the preface of the legendary work.

The temple is in very bad repair - needs financial help to restore.

It is a rather tough journey to reach the place. Nearest "major" railway station would be Muzaffarpur - about 50 KMs away. The last 20 KMs is a bumpy drive - well at least after ganDak has ravaged the roads.

Another important landmark heritage is a small railway station about 12/15 KMs from here. This otherwise non descript 2-platform station on which majority trains don't stop is called PUSA Road station. Hutatma Sri Khudiram Bose Ji was surrounded and captured like an animal, by the british police at this very railway station, about exactly 99 years back from today - in year 1908. Only 19 years old at that time, he can be said to have probably been the first "known" Indian in the Struggle for Independence to have thrown a bomb at a British Officer. Hanged by british, he martyred with Bhagavadgita in his hands and Vande Mataram on his lips.

His sacrifice has made this railway station immortal. Nitish Kumar, Railway Minister in 2003 and Bihar CM now, has dedicated this station to Bose, and it is known as Khudiram Bose railway station.

would post more images later.
I know its not temple but stupas.

Frontline article on

Krishna Valley Stupas of Andhra Pradesh
This is more about Hindu Dharma than the divine beauty of the architecture of various Temples in India. Most of these links are posted elsewhere, but I thought they belong in this more dedicated thread.

Links to do with meaning behind Temples and their construction:
- http://www.integralbooks.com/powerintemples.htm
Book "Power in Temples" of website http://www.integralbooks.com
a page online - http://www.integralbooks.com/powesam1.htm
another page - http://www.integralbooks.com/powesam2.htm

- http://www.bharatrekhainamerica.com/history.htm
"What is a Hindu Temple"

Bold bit below is stuff that I didn't know about until yesterday (I capitalised the word Devas below <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> ):
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati, the traditional architect who designed Iraivan Temple, noted, "The parts of the temple are so integrated that they become a living organism worthy of worship." <b>The Upanishads say, "Look upon the temple building as embodied energy and worship Him with Vedic mantras."</b>

The Agamas and the Vastu Shastras, Hinduism's scriptural authorities on temple architecture, give precise details and formulas prescribing how to design, carve and assemble a temple. The resulting structure and its relationship with its surroundings create a subtle, sublime atmosphere in which ceremonies performed by priests easily lift the veil between this world and the world of the Gods and Devas so their blessings can pour forth to gathered devotees.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Not having read any Upanishad completely (let alone all of them), I can't confirm the bold bit above. But I think Dr Sthapati would know, as Temples are his field.
I have seen the movie Perumthachan. That is what he also mentioned in that movie when he was building vigrahas. I suggest everyone watch that wonderful movie. There is also a scene where the Perumthachan knocks at a piece of rock with a hammer to check if that piece of rock is masculine or feminine.

He quotes the part below as quoted by Ganapati Sthapati where he tells his child who is a budding builder that an idol of a devi/temple is not just product of your artistry or exhibition of skills but also part of your devotion to that symbol. Basically you are endowing a rock with divine energy and that requires tapasya.

It is on a different level.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati, the traditional architect who designed Iraivan Temple, noted, "The parts of the temple are so integrated that they become a living organism worthy of worship." The Upanishads say, "<b>Look upon the temple building as embodied energy and worship Him with Vedic mantras</b>."<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Ancient temples excavated near Tirupati, AP.


<span style='color:red'>ASI stumbles upon 1000-yr-old temples in Chandragiri fort </span>

B Murali

<img src='http://www.newindpress.com/images/Nov07/27pillars.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />
The pillars excavated near the Kalyana Venkateswara Swamy temple at Srinivasa Mangapuram, 12 km from Tirupati.

TIRUPATI: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has stumbled upon a gold mine of history. It has unearthed two ancient temples, believed to be at least a thousand years old, on the premises of the Chandragiri Fort 14 km from here.

It followed it up with digging out not one or two but 250 artistically sculpted granite pillars near Srinivasa Mangapuram.

The temples are understandably in a bad shape. Nonetheless, are quite interesting given that one is a Vaishnava temple and the other a Shivaite one.

Though idols of the presiding deities were missing in both, archaeologists were able to identify their nature by studying the structures.

Vaishnava temples are structurally different from Shivaite temples. The ASI also found a statue of Nandi near one temple.

The other big find was near Srinivasa Mangapuram. Sources in the ASI say 250 exquisitely carved pillars, each at least 7 to 8 ft long and all laid out in an orderly fashion, were excavated at the temple.

Archaelogists believe they could have been meant for a 'mandapam' either adjacent to the temple or midway between Srinivasa Mangapuram and Srivari Mettu––the original second foot path from Chandragiri to Tirumala.

The ASI has reported its findings to the Government of India. These discoveries are the result of its patient efforts over a period of one year.

The two temples found at the Chandragiri Fort might be among the 52 temples said to have been built during the early years of the Rayala Dynasty around the fort and the 'Durgam,' which runs up to several kms around the fort, constructed by Ummadi Narasimha Yadava Raya in the 12th century.

According to historians, Chandragiri was the third capital of the Vijayanagara empire between 1584 AD and 1612 AD.

The two excavated temples were neatly brushed and marked. Visitors are not being allowed to have a glimpse of these historical shrines.

Adjacent to the temples, the ASI has also found a well, with terrakota ring bunds.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><span style='color:red'>Bihar to develop 'oldest' temple</span>
18 Jan 2008, 1042 hrs IST,PTI

PATNA: After initiating efforts to resurrect the ancient Nalanda university, Bihar government now wants to develop the country's "oldest functional" temple, the Mundeshwari shrine in Kaimur district on the lines of Vaishno Devi.

The temple situated atop a 608 ft hill is the "oldest functional temple" in the country where regular prayers have been performed from the past 1900 years, claimed the Administrator of Bihar Religious Trust Board Acharya Kishore Kunal.

Referring to the inscriptions found around the temple and different official records, Kunal, who enjoys the rank of a minister of state, said the "temple was constructed in 108 AD and the practice of worship and sacrifice was continuing ever since".

Kunal said archaeological experts and historians who deciphered the inscriptions found around the temple claimed that the shrine was built during the Shaka era, which predated even the advent of Gupta dynasty in 320 AD.

He said a stone slab, sawed into two with inscriptions in Brahmi script suggested that the temple predated the Gupta period when, because of the influence of grammarian Panini, the script in use was chaste Sanskrit.

The temple, he claimed could be even older as prior to the structure coming up there existed a four-face "mukhlingam" of Shiva, which was worshipped even at that time.

The kAlAtman maNDala at Angkor Wat
The inscription records of Angkor Wat by the French archaeologists points to a rare tantric prayoga of the siddhAnta srotas, whose performance appears to barely survive today in the drAviDA country (perhaps until relatively recently in Nepal). The inscription in question is from the period of the 1300s apparently from the period of the reign of indrajayavarman. The relevant statement from the inscription is:

“tasmin kuru mahad yAgaM yathoktaM pArameshvare … kR^itvAn sa mahad yAgaM kAla-yAgaM iti shrutaM | sarasvatI yAga yutaM loka-pAla-samAvR^itaM ||”

It describes a great yAga which has been laid down in the siddhAnta tantra known as the pArameshvara Agama. This great yAga is known as kAla-yAgaM. In its performance the mantra-vAdin is supposed to include the yAgA of sarasvatI and surround it by that of the loka-pAla-s. So what is this rite being described by the Angkor Wat inscription? An examination of the ritual prayoga-s of the Chidambaram dIkShita-s reveals that it refers to the prayoga of the exalted vyomavyApin mantra. This mantra as per the kAmikAgama is used in the final step of the dIkSha into the siddhAnta srotas along with the mAtR^ikA mantra-s signifying the circle of sarasvatI before it. However, the ritual in question here is the one laid out by the 9th paTala of the guhya section of the archaic nishvAsa tantra. It is also found in the now partially lost pArameshvara tantra, confirming the statement in the Angkor inscription. It is also alluded to in the svAyambhuva sUtra-s as the form of mahAdeva as kAlAtmA (the version edited by Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat may not contain the original reading) commented upon by the great AchArya sadyojyotis. The nishvAsa guhya described the yAga as the worship of shiva as “saMvatsara-sharIriNaH” or with his body as the year. The rite was connected with the construction of the kAlAtman maNDala, which is being implied implicitly by the word yAga in the Angkor inscription (the yAga being the fire rite accompanying the installation and worship of the maNDala). The basic geometry of the mandalA has a dodecagonal plan with 12 spokes leading to the outer rim with petals (circles). On each of these 12 spokes and petals 30 akShara-s of the vyomavyApin mantra were laid out (=360). The remaining 8 akShara of the vyomavyApin were laid on the inner octagonal nave. This was surrounded by a decagonal rim on which were laid, 5 per side, the 50 mAtR^ika-s composing the akShara-svarUpa of sarasvatI (this is clearly mentioned in the pArameshvara). Outside of it the 8 direction was a bhUpura with loka-pAla stationed therein starting with indra. The yAga of mahAdeva in the form of the kAlAtmA (embodied in this maNDala) involved the ritual to the central shiva with the vyomavyApin mantra arranged as a manifestation of the year, to sarasvati in the surrounding mAtR^ika chakra and to the loka-pAla-s in their AvaraNa.

This construction of the maNDala is different from the navanAbha maNDala also constructed based on the vyovyApin mantra. The latter is described by the great Kashmirian tantric bhaTTa rAMakaNTha deshika (rAmakaNTha-II) in his composition known as the vyomavyApin stava. The medieval brAhmaNa vedaj~na (commenting on rAmakaNTha, and following trilochana-shiva) from TiruvATuturai in the Tamil country states that this yantra was first promulgated by the bhArgava R^iShi ruru (Hence, his collection form the tantra of the Urdhva srotas known as raurava) and the vyomavyApin mantra is supposed to have emerged from the IshAna face of shiva. The features of the navanAbha yantra are derived based on the kalottara and mata~Ngaparameshavara texts. This maNDala has a nonagonal symmetry with 40 akShara-s in each of the 9 sectors and 8 arranged in a central nave. The kAlAtman envisages shiva as encompassing time and the navanAbha envisages the deva as encompassing space.

These conceptions of shiva express a continuity with the vedic tradition where rudra is invoked at the end of the piling of the altar in the agnichayana. In the yajur vedic rite rudra is invoked as encompassing space as the 4 cardinal directions and the vertical axis and time in the form of the 5 saMvatsara-s of the vedic 5 year cycle. Amongst these rudra is said to stand like a fierce tiger. Likewise, the mention of the kAla maNDala in the Cambodian inscription, which arranges the vyomavyApin to correspond to the 12*30 day months of the saMvatsara, reminds one of the astronomical constants embedded in the main temple of Angkor Wat. For example, the outline of the base-plan of the upper elevation of the temple has 12 projections and the sum of the lengths of the N-S and E-W axes is 365.37 Cambodian cubits (described in Eleanor Mannikka’s work). While, the main temple of Angkor Wat is one dedicated to viShNu, the basic ideas of maNDala geometry inhere to both siddhAnta and pA~ncharAtra temple constructions. After all the mantra and the yantra are the deity.
<b>2,500 years ago, a city bigger than Athens in Orissa(India)</b>
11 Feb 2008, 0028 hrs IST,Minati Singha,TNN

<i>Experts say Sishupalgarh is the ‘most visible standing architectural monument’ discovered in India (TOI Photo).</i>

BHUBANESWAR: From under the ruins of an ancient fort on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, archaeologists have dug out the remains of a 2,500-year-old city which they believe was bigger than classical Athens.

Eighteen pillars were found among the remnants of the grand city at Sishupalgarh, a ruined fortification first discovered 60 years ago.

The findings include debris of household pottery and terracotta ornaments, pointing to an advanced lifestyle led by the people who lived there. The polished potteries even have ownership marks on them.

Monica L Smith, head archaeologist from the University of California, who was part of the 12-member team that conducted the excavation, said the site is the "most visible standing architectural monument" discovered in India so far. "It's a huge city that existed about 2,500 years ago."

"The city had four gateways and could have housed up to 25,000 people. Even classical Athens had only 10,000 people," said R K Mohanty from Deccan College, Pune, who was part of the excavation team which also had members from the Archaeological Survey of India and University of California.

"It was a very important city with well-built walls and a big expanse. The pillars we found were part of a gigantic structure, probably used for public gatherings," added Mohanty. Sishupalgarh was once ruled by the Kalinga kings.
<b>Old shrine found</b>

KARUR: What was meant to be an exercise to infuse amity among the police and public near here turned out to be a unique spiritual and social adventure when efforts of the men in khaki led to the unravelling of an ancient temple shrouded for decades by wild growth. Of course, the police-public interface suffused enough friendliness.

When a posse of police personnel descended recently on Periyamathiakoodalur village near Chinnadarapuram in Karur district, it certainly was neither tense nor volatile. People of the village welcomed the law-enforcers warmly and they all set out to proceed on a positive agenda.

While on one side a health camp got under way, games for each category of people _ children, youth, girls, boys and elders _ were organised in which the police and the public tested their strength. Elocution contest, fancy dress, song and other contests infused gaiety in the atmosphere.

Superintendent of Police K. Shanmugavel and senior district police officials were at hand to participate in and supervise the proceedings.

It was then that a couple of elders pointed to a wild growth of greenery and earthen mound and claimed that a small shrine lay hidden there. They also claimed that only a few villagers aged above 75 had seen the temple.

Under instructions from the SP, the police removed the mound to find a marvellous shrine. <b>The temple is said to be over 1,200 years old.</b> The main deity is Madhayana Eswarar. Also present are images of Lord Vinayaka and the shiv linga inscribed on a granite stone.
<b>7th century idols of Yamraj and Jain Gods excavated</b>

Mar 5, 2008

Sirpur (Chhattisgarh), March 5 (ANI): Archaeologists in Chattisgarh claim to have discovered 7th century idols of Yamraj, the Lord of Death in Hinduism, astride a buffalo and Supasharvanath, a divine figure of Jain faith.

The excavation of lands in search of the Jain monuments is being carried out at Sirpur in Chhattisgarh's Mahasamund District.

"This idol is made of metamorphic rock, which is found in Mahanadi and I found it at a distance of 30-40 feet from the place where I am standing. It is in two parts and a part of a big pillar of some temple. It has a female structure on one of its side and structure of Yamraj sitting on a he-buffalo on the other side," said Arun Kumar Sharma, an archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India.

The idols are believed to be dating back to the seventh century.

"I think this idol belongs to 7th or 8th century, when Jains were in power in Sirpur and Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism had ample patronage from the Kings. We have a number of Jain monuments also," Arun added.

Archaeologists hope the latest finding will enable them to uncover the ancient history of Digambar Jains in the region.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>A wedge of the past </b>

"Brahma Mandiram"" is the 400-year-old house of the C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar family that has been converted into a museum. It provides interesting glimpses of a more leisurely way of life and a feel of the undiluted culture of this region, says KAUSALYA SANTHANAM. 

<img src='http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/fr/2004/07/16/images/2004071602510601.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />
Welcoming the visitor with dignity are models of an Iyer couple.

AFTER REACHING the town of Kanchipuram, the vehicle makes its way to Lingappa Street near the Ekambareswarar temple. You crane your head to see the beautiful pictures of deities painted on the walls of a few buildings before the vehicle stops at a house with the typical thinnai/verandah and wooden pillars at the entrance. This is ""Brahma Mandiram"," the 400-year-old house of the C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar family that has been converted into a museum — the Shakunthala Jagannathan Museum of Folk Art.

"Folk art is not just Kavadi or Karagam but art that is present in everyday life," says Nanditha Krishna, Director of the C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation who has set up the museum.

"Every effort was taken to restore the home to its original condition and ensure that all the artefacts in it are authentic not just to Tamil Nadu but to North Arcot district. We wanted people, especially children, to know and experience a way of life that is fast vanishing." The house belongs to the Vijayanagar period.

"My mother Shakunthala Jagannathan who inherited this house from my grandfather C. R. Pattabhiraman was very keen it should be turned into a museum and gave her personal collections to make it possible."

Simple and rather austere in architectural features, the flat roofed house is a wedge of the past nestling in the 21st century present. It provides interesting glimpses of a more leisurely way of life and a feel of the undiluted culture of this region.

The house has been painstakingly renovated to approximate its original state. "The beams which had been coated with bright enamel paint were restored to the original, softer blue, a mix of indigo and varnish. Asian Paints mixed 14 colours before they got the right shade," says Nanditha. The adjoining house built in a similar style was bought up and also restored to its original condition. It now serves as a nursery school and help fund the running of the museum.

The open-throughout-the-week museum receives four or five visitors a day on weekdays and 20 during weekends. The entrance fee is Rs. 10. School children, Indian and foreign tourists visit it. South Indian meals are available when booked in advance for groups as also refreshments.

The thinnai or front verandah at the entrance has been adapted into a simple and appealing crafts shop. Palm-leaf baskets, herbal beauty aids and terracotta items made by self-help groups are available for sale. So are inexpensively priced booklets that tell you the history of this famous city and also provide details about the house and its exhibits.

When you enter the arched doorway, you come into the Kalyana Koodam. This was the main hall of the house which was used by the men to receive visitors and where functions and marriages were celebrated. A life-size model of an Iyer gentleman in dhoti and angavastram, is seated in dignity on the Oonjal (swing) which sways gently from the high rafters.

Beside him, the twin mannequin, his wife, decked in a nine-yard sari welcomes visitors with folded hands. Portraits of four generations of the family adorn the walls. The Deshastha Brahmins from the Narmada valley migrated to Tamil Nadu 600 years ago. In the latter part of the 19th century, the wealthy scion of the landlords of Damal was Conjeevaram Venkatasubba Aiyar whose only daughter Rangammal inherited his assets, including this house as well as another which now functions as the SSKV School. It was from Rangammal, his mother, that C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar inherited a considerable amount of property including "Brahma Mandiram" which later passed on to Shakunthala Jagannathan.

A portion of the wall of the Koodam, when broken down during renovations, revealed traces of beautiful paintings but these could not be restored.

Three fresco panels have now taken their place. Executed by Thirugnanam, a well known artist from Mamallapuram, in pleasing shades of rust, green and blue with aesthetic placement of figures, the panels tell you the history of this ancient town in the most succinct and fascinating fashion.

Nagareshu Kanchi... one of the most famous cities of the country in the past, Kanchi was a vibrant spiritual, cultural and academic centre. The panels trace the story of this city, which owes its name to the Kanchi trees abounding in the area, from 300 B. C. to British times. The city finds mention in ancient Tamil literature. Hieun Tsang visited it and left behind glowing accounts.

In the cupboards of ""Brahma Mandiram"" are displayed a variety of dolls used during the Kolu by the family. Most of them belong to the late 19th century and the early 20th century. Very British in appearance are the images of the gopikas holding their wide skirts. The Narasimha looks very English as also the Parasurama and Vishnu on His serpent bed in the ocean. Many of the dolls represent deities that are uncommon in a Kolu display today.

The Panguni Uttiram, the celebration of the marriage of Siva and Parvati, is a central event in the religious calendar of Kanchi. "This house had a major role to play on the celebrations. This tradition continues and the museum is closed during this period (March-April) as Veda Paryanam is held here for a whole fortnight," says Nanditha.

The Maratha influence is seen in the turbanned musician dolls with their tunics glinting a dull gold. Pondicherry used to make gold painted dolls and models of fruits in the past and quite a few of them can be seen in this collection.

In the adjoining Vadyashala, a number of musical instruments — from the simple ektara to the replica of the ancient yazh — are on view. Images of Ganesha and Hanuman preside over them — Ganesha as he is seen in the temple of Badami bursting into joyous dance while witnessing the thandava of Nataraja and Hanuman, as he is known to be a great lover of music.

Rows of traditional deepams including the Paavai vilakku are arranged in an alcove facing which is the puja room.

The dining room whose walls were once painted with frescoes now has only a single faded Kalasham flanked by elephants.

The Nadumutram or open courtyard is decorated with stone images that date back to the seventh and eighth centuries. The courtyard has a system whereby the rainwater is led by conduits to the well in the garden, a fine example of rainwater harvesting. The Chekku (mill) for extracting oil points to the fact that Kanchi controlled the oil trade in the region for several centuries.

The Ugranam, the storehouse has a vast array of utensils — in brass, copper and iron. The copper utensils to store water had beneficial properties while the taste of sambar and rasam were enhanced when cooked in lead or soapstone vessels, a practice followed in many Tamil homes even today. How any of us are aware that in the 18th century Shahji, the Maratha king of Thanjavur, came up with the sambar by mixing tamarind curry with lentils and named it in honour of his cousin Sambhaji who was visiting him? There are vessels in this room of all shapes and sizes, which served various functions in the past as also utensils used for conducting rituals and poojas. The kitchen set that could be closed and locked when travelling and the Nellu Kutthu to store the grain are interesting features in the Ugranam.

In ``Aindinai" there are descriptions of the five ecological divisions of ancient India. While climbing the stairs to the first floor, one passes the Machu where grains where stored and into which family members would crawl for a cool nap in summer.

Upstairs, the cold languid air of the past makes one shiver. When the Muslims came to Kanchi with the invasion of Malik Kafur, they brought the concept of the Zenana. It was from these spaces that the women of the family watched the happenings in the Koodam. They had all the time in the world as women in this family were barred from the kitchen and only male cooks were engaged. Dressed in their best and only having to take care of the children, they would while away the long hours away playing endless games of Paramapadam and Pallankuzhi. Puppets in indolent poses strikingly bring home the ennui and the changes in the position of women in the last 100 years. In the nearby Vastralayam, family heirlooms are featured — "some of the saris are the oldest in Tamil Nadu."

Saris from Thanjavur and brocades from Benaras showcase the rich textile heritage. And of course the fantastic weaves of this temple town, an ancient centre of silk and cotton weaving.

Also exhibited are copies of traditional jewellery but the display could be improved.

From the room at the top, an image of Goddess Kamakshi looks benignly at the temple town where she is so popular.

Anyone expecting a grand mansion, filled with finery, will have their hopes dashed. This house is elegant and shows the comparatively unostentatious lifestyle practised in North Arcot by even the most wealthy proving yet again that affluence and simplicity are an unlikely but a winning combination in the South.

Houses turned into museums are common in the West. But they are a rare phenomenon in this country and the museum shows how heritage and architecture can be preserved with a little care and a great deal of passion for the past.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><span style='color:red'>Mrikula bhawani temple, Udaypur-Lahaul Himachal</span>

Apr 22, 11:38 am
<img src='http://in.yimg.com/news/jagran/20080422/06/18dha-1_1208845510_m.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />
केलंग [अशोक राणा]। वह न पीसा की मीनार है और न विश्व का कोई दूसरा अचंभा। वह तो लाहुलियों की आस्था का केंद्र है जो अब धरोहर बनने के बावजूद उपेक्षित है। विभाग की 'कुंभकर्णी नींद' धरोहर के वजूद पर भारी पड़ने लगी है। मरम्मत के दावों के बावजूद बुनियाद में बुधवार को आई दरारों के बाद ऐतिहासिक व धार्मिक धरोहर ध्वस्त होने के कगार पर है। विभाग का सुस्त रवैया यूं ही रहा तो मंदिर कभी भी ढह सकता है। बात लाहुल के उदयपुर स्थित ऐतिहासिक मृकुला देवी मंदिर की हो रही है, जिसकी बुनियाद गहरी दरारों से हिल चुकी है।

पिछले दो वर्षो से मंदिर की हालत को लेकर प्रमुखता से खबरें छपती रही हैं, इसके बावजूद विभाग ने मामले को गंभीरता से लेने की कोशिश ही नहीं की। हालत इस कद्र बदतर हो चुकीहै कि मंदिर की समय रहते सुध नहीं ली गई तो रोहतांग खुलने तक मंदिर ध्वस्त हो सकता है। दुर्लभ काष्ठ कला व पुरातत्व महत्व की इस धरोहर का पूरा ढांचा दो अस्थाई स्तंभों पर टिका है तथा वर्तमान में मंदिर आगे की ओर 70 डिग्री झुक गया है, जिससे बुनियाद में आई करीब एक फुट चौड़ी दरारें साफ दिखने लगी हैं। मंदिर के झुकने से आस्था के इस केंद्र के अस्तित्व पर खतरा मंडराने लगा है। मंदिर की हालत बेहद जर्जर होने के कारण यहां तैनात पुजारी पूजा-पाठ से भी कतराने लगे हैं।

काठकुणी शैली में पांडवों द्वारा निर्मित इस ऐतिहासिक मंदिर के भीतर महाभारत और रामायण के संदर्भो को काष्ठकला से उकेरा गया है। मृकुला मंदिर के रखरखाव का जिम्मा भारतीय पुरातत्व विभाग के अधीन है, लेकिन विभाग की उपेक्षा व वक्त के थपेड़ों से आज यह मंदिर खंडहर में तबदील हो रहा है। पुजारी दुर्गा दास ने 'दैनिक जागरण' जागरण को दूरभाष पर बताया कि लकड़ी पर उकेरे गए भितिचित्र सड़ कर अब गिरने लगे हैं। पुजारी के मुताबिक मंदिर की जर्जर हालत को देखते हुए पूजा पाठ करना भी खतरनाक हो गया है। स्थिति से वाकिफ होने के बावजूद लाहुल प्रशासन पूरी तरह से असहाय है।

उधर, विभाग के निदेशक प्रेम कुमार शर्मा का कहना है कि विभाग मंदिर को लेकर पूरी तरह से गंभीर है तथा धरोहर को बचाने के लिए कई सालों से लगातार प्रयास किए जा रहे हैं। रोहतांग दर्रा खुलते ही विभाग के कर्मियों को उदयपुर रवाना कर दिया जाएगा। बहरहाल, धरोहर को बचाने के लिए विभागीय प्रयास समय पर फलीभूत नहीं हुए तो मंदिर के साथ-साथ बहुत कुछ दफन हो जाएगा, जिसकी क्षतिपूर्ति नहीं हो सकेगी।


The ancient temple of mrikula bhawani, built by Pandavas during their vanavasa period as per the local traditions, is in a very bad repair. The temple is situated in th remote and less accessible udaypur of the snow clad Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh.

Built in the Kathkuni style, wooden carvings on the wall of the temple depicting scenes from Mahabharata and Ramayana are now fallimg apart one after the other, and the Pujari informs that some are now rotting, for the lack of care. The temple site is a declared heritage site and under ASI care. According to the Pujari, the central column of the temple is now bent by as much as 70* horizontally and is on the verge of collapse. The structure has been made to stand with support from two temporary columns. The foundation stones are all visible now and have cracks all over the foundation and walls. Performing the rituals is not free from the risk of being buried underneath. On the other hand the administration when contacted has said that nothing can be done until the Rohtang-Kelang passes open up making the site accessible, wheras the locals say that it would be too late by the time snow melts and passes become open (in another 4-6 weeks) and indeed the damage would be irreparable.

Note that a set of similar ancient wooden temple dedicated to devi, revered by the greek-speaking tribals in Himachal, were burnt down earlier this year by forest fires, and by the time help could reach were reduced to rubble.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->AMRITSAR: The conversion of a century-old-Hindu temple into an auto repair workshop in Karachi has invited the ire of the minority Hindu community in Pakistan.

After failing to get the issue addressed by Pakistan Evacuee Trust Property Board (PETPB), the Pakistan Hindu Council has now written to the President and Prime Minister to restore the sanctity of the temple, besides seeking a representation in PETPB.

Speaking to TOI over phone from Karachi, PHC patron Ramesh Kumar Vankwani said the evacuee trust board had leased out the temple, situated close to customs house, to a pathan, who was now running an auto repair workshop there.

“When there was no positive response from PETPB, we urged Pakistan's President and Prime Minister to intervene,” said Vankwani, adding that PHC had also sought permission to take over the possession of shrine.

Vankwani said PETPB had a large number of Hindu properties. “We have requested Pakistani government to give proper representation to Hindus in PETPB, besides urging them to lease out Hindu properties after consulting PHC,” he added.

He said the aim of PHC was to promote and propagate Vedic and Hindu culture in Pakistan and unite all the factions and sects of Hindus on a platform to solve the community's problem.


some comments:

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Rajesh Vyas,Mumbai,says:Sir: why is hoopla being made out of the temple converted into an Auto Garage. The Hindus that decided that to stay on in Pakistan after Partition should realize that Pakistan is a Theocratic state and does not respect any religion barring the Sunny Sect of Islam. Even other sects of Islam are not really recognised by the Pakistani State. Also, it is said that God resides everywhere and more so in Human Beings. So why botehr about this matter and the physical building? It is advisable that the Hindus in Pakistan remain away from any protests and demonstrations or they will suffer the fate of Tibetans in China and that will not be pleasant.
[7 May, 2008 1329hrs IST]

Raju,New Delhi,says:I don't think this temple would be the only one, being desecrated in Pakistan but there would be a numerous one which are not getting necessary media attention or hogging limelight. Religious places of whomever religions, should always be given due respect without discrimination. They are the places of same Almighty who teaches people the same lesson of Love and Peace with each other and not hurting other in any manner. So Pakistan or India, must give due and urgent attention to the religious feelings of their people whenever their attention is drawn for such news item.
[7 May, 2008 1314hrs IST]

dilshad,saudi arabia,says:i have not understood why TOI is making such a news item as one of its headlines. if people is really interested in such news items, they should also highlight the plight of hundreds of mosques in punjab and haryana which have been turned into cowsheds, shops and 'tabelas'. even in delhi i have seen a mosque turned into a cowshed. media should be careful in bringing news especially in such a volatile atmosphere and play the role of spreading harmony and unity among people of different communities so that peace and not hatred prevails in our country and we have all round development.
[7 May, 2008 1253hrs IST]

chandramouli,mumbai,says:Such reports should not be published by the media. These reports will only hurt the sentiments of the Indian Hindus, a report whose veracity they cannot verify as they will not be able to go to Pakistan. The effect of such reports is only to incite Hindus in India and we already have had too many problems on this score. We already have immense problems in our hand on the religious front, let us not bring in problems from outside to affect the peace and harmony, if any, prevalent here.
[7 May, 2008 1236hrs IST]

Vinod,South Africa,says:I agree with Lipakshi Sharma.The Indians need to start in their own backyard and start proper maintainance of temples and forts etc.Not so long back temples were destroyed in Afghanistan and what became of it??People in India need to start maintaining the buildings (homes) they are living in for a start..try a simple process of painting...even if its all white paint and cheaper...its a start nevertheless.A lot of temples and forts are in a terrible state of disrepair.Start by fixing these up. India should not dictate to the Paks as to what they should and shouldn't do..its their country..vice versa applies.
[7 May, 2008 1230hrs IST]

Bulbul,UAE,says:This publisher should stop inviting comments reg this issue. Bear in mind what happens in India to its minorities and their places of workship. By inviting comments on such issue, the media is promoting hatred in this global world.
[7 May, 2008 1150hrs IST]

Aha,dubai,says:Among all the letters in response to this article, Vishaal agarwal seems to be the only 1 right. Amazing, hindus in UK, US feel a temple converted to a workshop is pakistan Govt's mistake and Indian Govt should interfere... What about the other temples in pakistan which are still temples. do you give credit to pak for their wellbeing?
[7 May, 2008 1146hrs IST]

[7 May, 2008 1131hrs IST]

Harikumar,Chennai,says:This happens even in India. Before pointing out Pakistani's in this issue , Lets look at our politicians/racist, those who face difficulties in living as Indian.
[7 May, 2008 1129hrs IST]

I am ready to bet some mulla has been busy posting at TOI.
History - Angkor Wat

<b>Hindu temple rises from Arizona desert</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->In his modest workshop, he practices a craft thousands of years old, passed on through generations.

Muthusamy is a temple builder, or shilpi. For the past 32 years, he has made his living adorning more than 50 Hindu temples, seeing that the structures become not just buildings, but sanctuaries that are fit to house the gods. advertisement  Shrines must conform to auspicious ratios, entrances must be built with a "magical" number of steps, and floors have to be covered with a granite found only in India.

His latest project is the Maha Ganapati Temple of Arizona in Pinal County. Since December, he and five other Indian shilpis have been preparing the temple for its grand opening next weekend. Through intricate carving, plastering, molding and painting, they hope to create a place that is as architecturally and spiritually similar to the temples they grew up with in India.

"This creates an atmosphere for the devotees to come in the temple and meditate," Muthusamy said.

The architecture and decorations follow "generations of rules."
Temples in Lahore

I want to share with all of you the pathetic condition of Hindu temples in Lahore. Lahore is a historical city and has a sound multi-religious and cultural history. There are lots of temples and gurudwaras in this city, and all non-Muslim religious places are under the custody of the Evacuee Property Trust Board. But there are so many black sheep who sell these temples to the land mafia for commercial interests because they are located in what are now the city's main commercial areas.

Imtiaz Rashid
Lahore, Pakistan


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