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    During my trip to Chennai for a Wall Painting Project these were some places that I chanced upon. Religion and traditions apart, the architecture… Read More
    During my trip to Chennai for a Wall Painting Project these were some places that I chanced upon. Religion and traditions apart, the architecture is a visual inspiration for any image-maker with lines, patterns and colours incorporated within it seamlessly. Read Less
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Chennai
You'll either love it or hate it.
 
Well, I love it.
After constantly seeing Madras through coloured glasses - as a city filled with with lungi-clad men, woman who begin the day by making a kolam, cooking idli-dosa and curd rice, I have realised that the city has a lot more to say about itself. From a proud traditional culture, joint families, Tamil - one of the oldest languages, kathak and classical music, a history of excellent vernacular literature and people who enjoy living the traditional way - it is what forms the essence of the city. Lines, patterns, textures, motifs and colours is what I have been drawn to, amidst the cities own obsession with temples and their architecture.
 
These however, remain my own ideas formed much by the going - ons within the city and what I observed around me. I fortunately know locals who love  - making a day out - of a visit to a temple, making my day in return.
What is interesting about the 'gopuram' of the Sri Soumya Damordara Perumal Temple, is the fact that it remains unpainted.
It imparts an unfinished, achromatic look to the temple structure. One can observe the anatomy, embellishments and patterns more closely
in the absence of the painted colours. 
There is a monochromatic beauty created by the depths and protusions of carving, on the temples spire.
The Thiruvaleesvarar Temple at Padi, is one of the only temples whose 'gopuram' is round in structure.
It goes on to influence the architecture within the temple space accordingly.
The temple courtyard is a social space where one can meet friends, relatives or take a moment off.
The fish that is roughly hewn on to the floor is probably a depiction of 'Matsya' the first avatar of Lord Vishnu.
While the tortoise is the second avatar, called the 'Kurma' avatar.
The Marundeeswarar Temple, Thiruvanmiyur.
 
The words that are written on this wall within the temple courtyard are 'siva siva'.
The ornamental doorway is called the "Kadavu' - meaning Door in Tamil.
The painted motif on the ceiling of the temples entrance, depicts - The Meenakshi Sundareswarar on a Rishabha vaahan.
It shows the Lord as Sundareswara, after he marries Parvathy in the form of Meenakshi, the Madurai king's daughter.
The panel depicts the 'Kannappa Nayanar Charithram', the story of the hunter prince, Kannappa, who stumbles upon a barely taken care of shiva linga in the jungle and grows attached to him, by offering a variety of foods that he eats, like meat etc. The brahmin who ventures into the forest every day to do pooja is horrified about the meat and complains to the Lord himself. Shiva decides to show Kannappa's staunch devotion, to the Brahmin. One day, tears fall from his eyes when Kannappa comes in. Kannappa is worried that his Lord is sad, but he is unable to stop the tears from the Lord's eye, so he decides to donate his eye to the Lord and does it. But, to make matters worse, the other eye also starts copiously tearing. Kannappa without hesitating marks the spot of Shiva's other eye with his leg propped on the Lord and digs out his other eye. The Brahmin is astounded and Kannappa becomes Kannappa Nayanar and gains 'nirvana' and forever takes a place among the 63 main devotees of Shiva, called 'Nayanmars'.
This picture is of the shrine of Lord Muruga, Shiva's youngest. The sculptures on the Gopuram are of 'Lord Muruga with both his consorts,
Valli and Deivanai' in the forefront and slightly in and up is the sculpture of Muruga as 'Lord Arumugam', meaning the six faced one.
Legend has it that, Muruga was raised by these six women called the 'Karthigai Pengal' and hence he is an embodiment of all of them.
This seems to be adjacent to the first Ganesha shrine and also seem to be abutting a 'Vishnu Shrine'. The Gopuram behind clearly indicates,
Vishnu, seated in the lower rungs with his consorts and another one a few feet higher.
This panel depicts three different stories out of which the first one is Parvathy doing penance to reach Shiva's side again, 
(As they have had a lot of quarrels, you see.) - This is Parvathy as Akilandeshwari. The third motif is Kamadhenu doing 'Abishekam' to a Shivalingam.
This is a sculpture of Shiva and Parvathy in the middle, Ganesh on their right and Muruga on their left. The celestial family is completely represented here.
The shrine near the Pond - also called Thiru Kulam or the Sacred Pond -  is that of Lord Dakshinamurthy, another form of Shiva as the Teacher.
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