Chennai and her identities range from filter coffee to movie stars. Beyond the stereotypical identity, this city has some other great stories to tell. The history of Chennai is often limited to “When the British Came…” Art, culture, economy and more was thriving in this land even prior to that. There were experiments on from holding elections to understanding the stars above. This city was definitely way ahead of its times, however, has seen its share of ups and downs in its years of existence.
The temples of Chennai, tell us a great deal about the land, its people and their practices in the past. From the north to the south, Chennai’s landmass is adorned with beautiful ancient temple structures. As it goes without saying our understanding or respect to these historical monuments is limited.
The Kalikambal temple in North Chennai is a fine example of how an ancient structure in the name of modernization could be transformed into spiritual shopping yard. Locked amidst a packed neighborhood in the busy Georgetown region of North Chennai, the Kalikambal Temple is a seasoned spiritual center.
The temple has seen this city change but has not lost her identity and significance. People throng the temple in thousands, the spiritual pull at the Kalikambal temple is time tested. The temple is said to have been relocated from the beach to its present location at Thambu Chetty st during the British Raj.
The temple boasts of high profile visits, even hosting the Maratha Pride Shivaji Maharaj. The Kalikambal temple is widely known for Shivaji Maharaj’s visit. From the commoner to the rulers, the Kalikambal is the go to goddess. It is commonly believed that prayers to the Kalikambal will be duly rewarded. Beyond the quest for power and urban needs, there are several people who visit the Kalikambal for the plain simple spiritual experience.
The spiritual values of this temple or its emotional significance to the people of the city is completely neglected. In the name of modern renovation, the archaeologically important temple complex is being subjected to changes that are neither aesthetic nor conservational but pure simple commercial.
The Kalikambal Temple complex has been converted into a commercial hub and it serves the livelihood of the locals. The social culmination point that the temple once was is probably missing in totality, but is being held together by these stalls that serve food, sell flowers and even calendars. The Kalikambal is everywhere from the date sheets to stickers and more. However, the question if we have neglected the Goddess herself, does arise in several of the devotees mind as they see the temple change into a digital, polished granite establishment.
The Kalikambal has seen and supported Chennai through her existence. She has held fort amidst all chaos. The structural changes at the Kalikambal temple complex might be an eye soar, but, the experience at the sanctum sanctorum is truly indescribable. The devotees, their belief and the energy explains why The Kalikambal is Chennai’s preferred goddess.
Commercializing God and Religion serves a few, the spirituality serves mankind. The Kalikambal has been serving this land with her spiritual powers and the beauty of this ancient structure is yet to be fully explored.