Temples in Technicolo(u)r

A while back at one of Delhi’s vanguard ethnic-chic stores, I found a novelty postcard on sale (very tongue-in-cheekily), with an image of a gaudily decorated goupram from the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple at Trichy in south India. I bought the postcard thinking the goupram must be uniquely kitschy in it’s sculpture and color palette, and was planning to post a scan of it on my blog as stand-alone kitsch. Here’s the postcard image:

Original postcard scan

However, on my trip to Bangalore and Mandu, I realized that this style of decoration is probably a trend in south India, with many modern Bangalore temples decorated in a similar manner.

Bangalore temple gopuram

Bangalore temple gopuram under renovation, probably to apply a special extra coat of kitsch

Gopuram detail

Side entrance to temple

And it’s not just in south India. In the heart of central India, where the temples are not in the “Dravidian” style but rather the often more plain “Indo-Aryan” style (this terminology really need to be updated by someone researching Hindu temples), such temples also use a similar color palette. I saw a perfect example of this on the bus ride from Indore to Mandu in Madhya Pradesh but didn’t photograph it, though the entrance of a Jain temple at Mandu gives an indication of what I mean – the same colors used in a different way to decorate the temple.

Mandu Jain temple entrance gate

All I can say after looking at these examples is – thank the multicoloured gods that plaster doesn’t last as long as stone!

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