Tamil Nadu Temple Run: Gangaikondacholapuram

Gangaikondacholapuram, which has got to be one of the best names ever, was a Chola capital in the 11th c. The Brihadeshwara Temple from that time follows the model of the earlier temple in Thanjavur, as well as it’s massive scale. The monumentality of these two temples is difficult to capture in photos, and even on site it takes a few minutes to grasp the scale of the shikhar especially and the structure in general. Much of the mandapa has been restored, and there is indication that the mandapa would have been double it’s current height, making the original structure all the more massive. Continue reading

Tamil Nadu Temple Run: Tribhuvanam

The Kampahareshwara Temple in Tribhuvanam, a few kilometers outside Kumbhakonam, was built in the early 13th c CE temple and is said to be the last large Chola temple. It is larger than the Darasuram temple, but smaller than the Thanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram temples. Unlike these others, this temple is in more active use, and the gopurams and shikhars (of the main and side shrines) are kept painted. This seems to be allowable because though the base of the gopurams and temples in these large Chola temples are built with stone, the towers themselves are of brick, and so need periodic plastering to increase their longevity. And because of this new plastering, painting on the towers is permissible. Continue reading

Tamil Nadu Temple Run: Darasuram, Airavateshwara Temple

Darasuram is just outside the town of Kumbhakonam, and is the site of two 12th c CE Chola temples. These two are among the “preserved” temples seen on this trip, and unlike the much altered “living” temples, have a much more cohesive form, with the enclosed courtyard dominated by a single large temple with mandapas (pillared halls) and the sanctum in a single line. The Airavateshwara temple is the larger of the two. There is a cohesive architectural style to all the large Chola temples as Darasuram, Tribhuvan, Gangaikondacholapuram and Thanjavur, and these are distinct to the other temples that have labyrinthine pillared corridors and courtyards around multiple and almost competing sanctums within multiple enclosing walls. Continue reading

Tamil Nadu Temple Run: Chidambaram

An introduction to this Tamil Nadu Temple Run trip

Chidambaram happened to be the first town I visited on this Temple Run trip just because it was closest to Pondicherry, where I started driving from, and on the way to the other towns and temples on the itinerary. I had decided to concentrate on temples in central Tamil Nadu for this trip, and exclude any other aspect of architectural, urban or related interest. This is primarily because this trip was in aid of my evil plan to slowly go through a “life list” of monuments in India as presented in Takeo Kamiya’s “The Guide to the Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent”. Continue reading

Agra Jama Masjid

Made a short trip to Agra and visited the 17th c. Jama Masjid that’s close to the western gateway of Agra Fort, on the edge of Agra’s old city. The eastern boundary wall and arcade of the mosque were torn down by the British after the 1857 uprising, to make way for the railway line and station that sit just in front of the mosque, giving this mosque an “open” feel on one side. Continue reading