December 18, 2006 at 11:02 pm | Posted in Madurai, Thiruvannamalai | Leave a comment

Well, my earlier blog and this one are both composed on Monday morning Indian Standard Time but the earlier one says it is Sundays publication. No matter. due to time difference.

My reminiscences are full of ramblings, stumbles, stammers, wrong spellings and mispronunciations. It is not because I dont write very well. My grasp and usage of the English language is not bad but my weakness is that I rush and publish it without review and editing in a hurry not to lose the contents in case there is a power failure of a sudden nature.

I have ready fans to pat my back. I mean my daughter and daughter in law. That is good enough for me because I consider this effort a personal achievement and even a small encouragement works as tonic.

I was telling about my life in Madurai. Madurai has the famous Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple. If you surf the internet you will have enough stuff to read about the art architecture and antiquity of the temple there. It is a good place to visit even for someone as sceptical as me but in my boyhood I would not have thought this way. It is quite a big temple with exquisite sculptures and with an aura of peace and quietitude and tranquillity. The best time will be very early in the morning as soon as the temple is opened to the public. There won’t be too many devotees around. Temple architecture in India is unique and particularly South Indian Temple architecture is distinct from the North Indian temple architecture. Even among the South Indian Temples there are distinctions between Tamil temples, Kerala Temples, Karnataka Temples. I am not very sure and I am not at all well informed in these matters but I feel the Tamil and Andhra Style of temple architecture are a bit more similar.

The town of Madurai has now grown into a big city but I think in the olden days the town developed around the temple. I am not saying that there would not have been any settlements before this temple took form, because I feel man came first and temples came later. If you start from the sanctum of the Madurai Meenakshi temple and start out you will cover square walled enclosures ever expanding upto the temple premises as a whole, and the town streets continue to expand in squares. The Railway Station and the Busstand and the road flyovers which must have limited the square pattern.

My memories of the temple are the temple elephant, the fine architecture, the parrots enclosure which I think is not there anymore, the sculpture of the legendary animal “yali”, the 1000 pillar hall, the religious classes there teaching children “Thevaram”, the celebration every year of the festivaL called Chithirai festival during the Tamil month iof Chithirai. There used to be fireworks to herald the daily processions of deities decked differently every day of the festival.

An unfulfilled wish of mine is an eternally postponed visit to the sacred town of Thiruvannamalai. I had a granduncle who lived the life of an ascetic in the hermitage of the Ramana Maharshi Ashram in Thiruvannamalai. He used to visit Madras when I was in my teens. He used to talk to me now and then and always on topics of philosophy and religion. He spent his final days in the Ashram. He was a bachelor all his life given to a life of celebacy and meditation. His Samadhi, his mortal remains, is in Thiruvannamalai. I revered him highly and I had a yen to visit his samadhi at least once in my life time. Hopefully in a couple of months I will realise this wish.

Well. It is time for the arrival of my son who was away for a week and I have warm up his food. I shall continue my ramblings and reminisces in course of time.


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