Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Temples and Tamil Nadu

In place after place in Tamil Nadu, there are temples with gopurams. Magnificent, towering ones.

If you have seen the Tiger woods golf course ad for Accenture where he identifies the green with just one look at the picture of the course - identifying a temple from the gopuram could be a nice challenge in itself. TN transport's(?) emblem used to be a gopuram at some point in time.

But coming back. The fact that the number of temples in TN with historical significance could be more than the total number of temples in the country seems to have escaped it. To locate any of these temples on your own is quite difficult. We had a cab driver who knew these places like the back of his hand, so we could locate them, but otherwise, TN seems to have made it a point to make it difficult to reach these places. And once you reach, they religiously charge you parking fees, without providing adequate parking facilities, at almost every place.

Chidambaram is one such place. For all its significance (check the wikipedia page), it is a supremely pathetic place. It is tough to get a decent place to stay - the one good place there is Sharada Ram both for food and stay. The rest are downright pathetic. The temple is open till night, almost 10 pm, but to get anything edible at that point, you have to be either lucky or a cow, so you eat off the streets. No wonder tourists reach Chidambaram and scoot once they are done with their darshan. The amazing Sirkali Thoniappar temple has no signboard in the town that it is a part of. To locate it, you have to just ask around and reach it - which is fine, but there is so much tourist potential there (check the page I have linked above). For all its magnificence, the Vaitheeswaran temple is mostly a place where touts want to sell you stuff ranging from Nadi astrology to plastic trinkets among other things. Not sure if the other temples in this state face the same fate - is this some state policy or something - those who know please enlighten.

(These are just some of the temples in TN and to cover them and their historical significance, you would need a lifetime and then some. For more on temples, check this site.)


Anand said...

The Srivilliputtur Gopuram is in the seal of the Tamil Nadu Government. The government transport corporation was Thiruvalluvar!

Karthik said...

How true. Any other state would have marketed this better. Have you gone to the 3 World Heritage sites -- Dharasuram, Thanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram temples. Just magnificient. But absolutely terrible facilities. No other temples even come close to their splendor.

The less said about the road to GKCholapuram the better. Not even a sign indicating that we have to turn off from the main Kumbakonam-Chennai road. And this is a World Heriatge Site. Imagine if these temples were in Kerala.

Neelakantan said...

Indeed, as I went around Bangalore there is a small temple by the name of Chikka Tirupathi, with neat directions. Hampi, a word heritage site is maintained well, sure it could be better, but it is a lot better than the way TN treats it heritage. Chalta hai at work...