ByÂ Priyanka Chakrabarty:
One day in the year of the fox
When the bell began to ring
It meant the time had come for one
To go to the temple of the king
~Temple of the King by Rainbow
I remember this song being played in my mind when I was on a road trip to Trichy and Tanjore. Trichy and Tanjore are flooding with tourists all round the year for they are known as the “Temple Towns”. Temples are rather interesting places to visit because when I entered the Sriramg Temple in Trichy, the entire crowd seemed to be fighting for a slice of divinity. But guess who gets it? People who can pay for a VIP entry and then make a donation because that takes you a step closer to God. This and much more was happening within the confines of divinity.
But what really caught my attention were the temple shrines. They boast of a rich cultural heritage which can be traced back to Cholas, Pallavas and Hoysalas. It is the only temple in India with seven enclosures. The Chola architecture style is prevalent throughout the temples. There is an area of the temple where the royal weddings took place. An area of it has 101 pillars making that place a solid crisscross of wonders. Extraordinary craftsmanship, coupled with architectural skills makes it a marvel. The temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, should ideally be visited during the winter months of November- December because the blistering Tamil Nadu heat is best when avoided.
The Brihedeshwara temple in Tanjore has been declared as part of UNESCO World Heritage Site “Great Living Chola Temples”. It is one such site which will make you stop for a few minutes just to soak in the magnanimity and the grandeur. It was built by Raja Raja Chola I in 1001 AD. The temple represents the rich heritage and the craftsmanship of the Chola Architecture. Statues of deities are carved all along the temple walls. The temple is known for attracting tourists from all over the world. This is one of the few temples in our country which allows the entry of foreign tourists.
I visited the temple during the summer and to say it was blistering would be an understatement. But jute mats have been spread on the stone floors so that people could visit the temple despite the heat. Every wall, every pillar in that temple has a story to tell and a message to convey. But the best time to visit the temple is during winter months of November-December.
The visit to these temples has been a unique experience as it is a peek into the past. It reflects on the values and beliefs of time gone by. It is one such place which has something to offer to one and all.
All photographs are a copyright of Priyanka Chakrabarty