This was a weekend trip to explore the temple towns (Gopurams) of Tamil Nadu. I did this trip with a friend Anubhav, he is a leisure photographer and an engineer. We both like to document architecture and cityscapes, the only difference is the medium. He does it through photography. And I pursue that through the skill of hand-sketching. So we decided to churn our creative juices this trip trying to understand, document and be-in-conversation with the temple towns in Tamil Nadu.
We reached Trichy on Saturday morning. Had some fresh south Indian filter coffee and started out to the temple island town of srirangam. As an architecture student, I remember, reading and researching about the temple town which is known for its consecutive Gopuram temple walls. These were added one by one, as the state decided to give more and more land to the temple (in a sense of reverence to Gods as the city was doing well). And to fortify the land which was offered, more magnificent gopurams and boundary walls were added. The resultant aerial city-scape is unique. It took well 4 hours for us to walk through and see the island town.
Next day included visiting another temple town Madurai, its known for its Meenakshi Sundareshwara temple. The temple complex is known for its spatial complexity. The hall with a thousand pillars is magnificent and the lotus pond also provides for a place of respite while one awaits to enter the sanctum santorium. The circum-ambulatory of the temple has a gorgeous spatial quality. The urban context, the hussle of the temple bazaar set under the mandapa makes this temple worthwhile a visit.
The other destination was Tanjore. The brihadeswara temple is one of the finest pieces of Chola architecture. Its revered for its exquisite proportions of Vimana. Unlike in other Dravidian temples, here the Gopuram doesn’t overpower the vimana of the main temple. The temple has been done in a local stone which gives it a bronze lustre and the bright sunlight of tropics just adds to this charm. Tanjore palace was not much of an interest, however it was refreshing to see something belong to Indo-Sarcenic style after dravidian temples.
All in all, it was a nice sketchy trip with fair deal of taste of go-purams. A must for archi-lovers, I shall conclude