Monday, 19 October 2020

God Sri Vishnu's various sleeping postures (sayana Nithra)

Mythological concept of God Vishnu, drik

Hinduism, Trinity Gods.

In Hinduism  there are three basic concepts essential for the survival of human life and the universe. The cyclic nature of this aspect has scientific connotations. They are   creation, preservation and destruction.  The universe and the earth obey this cyclic  natural process  and the earth, in particular, goes through all the three phases. This process may be slow or fast, depending on the nature's play and emerging circumstances then and there.   These three acts are related to three Hindu gods called Trinity Gods. Brahma takes care of t he creation, Vishnu  is for protection and preservation and Shiva is in charge of destruction. With reference to Shiva's work, it is not total annihilation, it involves transformation of one state into another. Tree is destroyed and buried underground, through  the geologic process for a long period time,  buried trees are transformed into coal. Among the trinity gods, Vishnu is credited with giving salvation to people, besides protecting them  and others  and' offering sustenance.   When lawlessness prevails on earth, Vishnu is supposed to  to incarnate  as ''Kalki'' to restore order by eliminating the evil forces and protecting the good.

Since protection and preservation is a laborious task, God Vishnu  is supposedly taking  rest between his work. Invariably, God Vishnu's idol is portrayed as being in a yogic sleep called  Sayanam.on the coiled bed of serpent called  Adishsha in the  Paarkkadal,Ksheera Sagara (Ocean of Milk; symbolically it represents the ocean of knowledge);.and the idol is referred to as Syana murthy. His sleep is called Yoga Nidra (Sleeping posture in Yoga) or Ari Thuyil  (in Tamil-sleeping while being aware of everything). The serpent represents cosmic energy and the postures by the God represent cosmic balance between finite and infinite. 

This kind of reclining posture of Sri Vishnu is quite familiar, examples: Srirangam Ranganathar (TN), Srirangapatna Ranganathar, (Karnataka), Sri Padmanabha Swamy of Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) Vadapathra sayee of Srivilliputhur(TN) etc..  

The classification of  Yoga Nidra/reclining pose of Lord Vishnu  is based on  the attitude, position of legs, hands, etc.,  and the attributes. They are:  Ardha sayanam, Yogasayanam, Virasayanam and Bhogasayanam, etc  .

Ardhasayana Vishnu:  Vishnu is lying on the coiled serpent Adisheha with his right arm placed on the pillow and the other hand stretched down and left leg with a slight bend.

Bhogasayanam   In this posture Sri Vishnu's consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi  are on either side of his  holy feet.; the latter close to the feet.  The space between the two legs is  set according to the Sastras. Ex .SrirangamThiruvellore,Thirukkottiyur-in twenty Places

Yogasayanam:  The deity is seen reclining on the serpent bed with right arm on the pillow and left arm a little close to the waist. The right leg  is stretched straight while the left leg a bit  is bent gracefully.  His  eyes  are half open symbolic of  meditative attitude,This posture  goes by other name it is known as Ardhartha sayanam .

Virasayanam: In this posture. the God is lying on the snake bed  with the right arm on the pillow, the left stretched. But his  two upper hands hold his  distinctive attribute - conch (Sangu)  and magical disc (Chakra). 

Uthara Sayanam: Uthara Sayanam: God Vishnu is reclining on a raised serpent bed. He is trying to wake up  from the bed.  Example. Sarangapani Temple, Kumbakonam (Thanjavur Dist)..

The other sayanams are: 

Annatha sayanam: Deity is lying on the serpent bed of Ananta. It represents cosmic balance between finite and infinite. ex. Padmanabha Swamy temple, Thiruvantha Puram, Kerala.

Vadabadra Sayanam,  Nidra murthy Vadabadra sayee (the deity has a separate shrine), Srivilliputtur, Tamil Nadu.

Veera Sayanam at Thiruindalur near Mayuram (Myiladuthurai), Tamil Nadu.

Dharpa Sayanam. With a view to crossing over to Lanka (Sri Lanka)  to bring back his consort Sita , bing held hostage by demon king Ravanna.  Sri Rama, in this place meditated  by lying on the bed of Dharba (dried grass).   Thiruppullani Perumal temple, Tamil Nadu.

Manikka Sayanam. Thiruneermalai, near Chennai. Moolavar Image not available.

Anantha Sayana Vishu.

 Anantha sayanam,Padmanabha Swamy temple, TV.Puram. Kerala

Annatha sayanam: Deity is lying on the coiled bed of serpent Ananta, symbolic of cosmic balance of infinity and finity.

Uthara sayanam, Kumbakonam Sarangapani temple.

 ,Moolavar. image(not availabe) Srivilliputhur Andal temple, TN.

Veera sayanam. Parmala Perumal, Mayavaram.

Srirangam, TN, Raganathar idol in Boga sayanam,

Chidambaram, TN., Yoga sayanam. Govindaraja Perumal belessing on the

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Kerala Divyadesam shrines dedicated to God Vishnu - 02

This one is the second post on "" Divya Desam Shrines in the state of Kerala which has the largest number - 11 next to Tamil Nadu glorified by the Azhwar saints, true devotees of God Mahavishnu, one of the trinity Gods; the other being God Shiva and Brahma. The latter has a few shrines due to a curse cast by God Shiva.(refer:

A kerala Hindu temple, India.

State of Kerala, SW

Malai Nadu Divyadesam shrines in Kerala (part in TN)

Among the 13 Malai Nadu Divyadesam (two in TN),  the Emperuman  (god Vishnu) is found in Nindra thirukkolam in 10 divyadesams, in Kidantha kolam in 2 divyadesams and in Irundha kolam in one divya desam. In eight shrines the main idol of Sri Vishnu is facing east direction Sri Visnuh is giving darshan  through three doors (vaasals) at two shrines in Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram and Thiruvaattaaru. It is in this state the Pancha Pandavas of the Mahabharata had 5 temples established at different places in a quiet surrounding to honor Sri Krishna who helped them get back their kingdom. They built the temples in  Kerala  during their long pilgrimage to the southern region and found the serene  and congenial climate most suitable for relaxation and meditation.  

05. The Padmanabhaswamy temple, Kerala:

Padmanabhaswamy temple Thiruvanantha Puram, Kerala,

The Padmanabhaswamy temple in the capital city of  Thiruvananthapuram  Keralastate, is an old Hindu temple dedicated to a form of God Vishnu. The architecture is a blend of Chera and Dravida styles,  featuring high  boundary walls and 16th century (1556 ) entry tower (gopuram), which is a 100-foot , 7-tier structure built in the Pandyan style.

Padmanabha swamy temple, T.V.puram, Kerala.

Above image:  The Sri Kovil (sanctum) at Padmanabha swamy temple has three doors, quite different from other srikovils at countless temples. Through the left door you can see the God's sirasu -head and his hand above the Shivalinga.You can  see  other deities  as well. Through the mid door is visible the waist part and god Brahma emanating from the Naval - "Padmanabha". You can see  gold abhisheka moorthies of Lord Padmanabha, Sridevi and Bhudevi 9consorts) and silver utsava moorthi of Padmanabha .and through the 3rd door  you can see the  Lord's feet (holy patham), Bhudevi and Markandeya Muni(sage) in Katusarkara. This Anantha Sayanam nithra (mystic sleep) is unique to this temple.  ''Patha darshan'' is very imporant in Sri Vishnu temples, implying total surrender to  the lord........................... 

The main deity Padmnabha swamy is in Ananatha Sayan posture, a sort of eternal yogic sleep  on the coiled beds of serpent Adi Shesha with big 5-headed  hood facing inward above him. The Lord's right hand is placed over a Shiva lingam. Sridevi-Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity and Bhudevi, the Goddess of Earth (two consorts of Vishnu) are by his side. Brahma (the creator) emerges on a lotus, which originates  from the navel of the Lord. The deity is made from 12,008 saligramams ( stones collected  from the banks of the Gandaki River in Nepal in the Himalayan region). To keep the deity clean and tidy, it is covered with a special paste  made of what is called  "Katusarkara yogam", a special ayurvedic mix. The daily worship is  done with flowers only and for  the abhishekam, Iyymon idol ( a mix of 5 metals) called Utchavar/abisekha moorthy  is used. In Tamil Nadu and elsewhere in S. India Utchavar idols are used for worship during festivities inside the temple premises. The deity enshrined in the Srikovil is the tutelary deity of the royal family of Travancore for centuries and the  Maharajah of Travancore, Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma, is the trustee of the temple. The platforms in front of the vimanam (where the deity rests) are both carved out of a single massive stone and hence called "Ottakkal-mandapam"(hall). Here, only the King of Travancore may perform sashtanga namaskaram, or prostrate in the "Ottakkal Mandapam" and others are not allowed. 

This is a Divya Desam shrine, one of 108 holy shrines of God Vishnu  in Vaishnavism, and is an important one among the 11 Divya Desam shrines in Kerala. This shrine is glorified by Tamil Vasishnva saints -Azhwars, in particular, Nammazhwar. The contribution made by him  to the Naalayera Divyaprabhandam ( 4000 devotional hymns  ) is vast. It is said that the temple at Annthapuram in Kasaragod is the original seat of Padmanabhaswamy ("Moolasthanam"). and in terms of style and design, it is vey much similat to  the Adikesava Perumal temple in Thiruvattar.

In Dwapara Yuga, God Parasurama  purified and venerated the idol of Sree Padmanabha Swamy.  He is said to have handed over the management of this temple - Kshethra karyam'  to seven Potti families.  Parasurama  also gave the Tantram of the Temple to Tharananallur Namboothiripad. to propitiate the god here.   

Kerala. Padmanabha swamy temple, TV.puram treasures Tourism newslive Com

In  April 2014, the accidental discovery of vast treasures of gold, diamonds, gemstones, etc., in the underground vaults took the entire world by surprise. Its conservative worth is about 25 billion US dollars preently  and if you add the antique and cultural  value on it,  it will  leap beyond 50 billion US dollars. One more  underground vault is not yet open on orders from the Supreme Court for certain reasons. This huge discovery consolidated the status of this temple as being the wealthiest temple in the world. The annual festival and Vikunthh Ekadasi festival  are held on a grand scale.


06. The Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple:

The Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, Kerala.

The Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, close to the village of Aranmula in Pathanamthitta District, Kerala, is a popular  temple where Sri Krishna, an avatar of Sri Vishnu is worshiped as   Parthasarathy, one who rode the chariot for the Pandava brother ''Arjuna'' in the Kurushetra war ( the purpose was to save Arjuna from the impending danger he might face fighting against Karnan, a great warrior  who was on the Kaurava side). This temple, believed to have been built by the Arujuna,  is a Divya Desam shrine  glorified by  the saints - Azhwars who lived in the the 6th–9th centuries AD.  Thirumangai Azhwar composed 9 pasurams  in praise of  Sri Vishnu  in this temple,  This temple can be accessed from the railway station  in Chengannur. It is one of the Hindu temples connected to the great epic this area. The others are:   Thrichittatt Maha Vishnu Temple built by Yudhishthira, Puliyur Mahavishnu Temple by Bheema, Thiruvanvandoor Mahavishnu Temple by Nakula and Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu Temple by  Sahadeva. They built  5 temples at five different locations in the midst of serene and picturesque surroundings.  This temple built in Kerala style architecture has wonderful paintings on the wall, dating back to  the early 18th century.   

Every year during   the Mandala puja at Sabarimala, the tradition has been that, the sacred jewels, called Thiruvabharanam of Ayyappan are taken  there in a religious procession  from Pandalam, and Aranmula Temple is one of the stops on the way. Besides, the Thanka Anki, golden attire of Ayyappa, donated by the  Maharajah of Travancore, is under the safe custody in this temple  and is taken to Sabarimala during the season -  in December. 

This  village comes alive during the popular  Onam festival. The north side entrance tower is accessed by a flight of 57 steps from the banks of  Pampa river. . Close to the temple is the venue of Snake boat races during the Onam festival.  The image of the main deity Sri Vishnu is in standing posture and is portrayed as being worshipped by Arjuna.  

In the  Malayalam month of Meenam  an important festival event takes place and  for the Arattu ritual the idol of Aranmula Parthasarathy is taken in a grand procession on the Garuda mount to the Pampa river bank. Here,  an image of the Bhagawati from the nearby Punnamthode temple is brought in procession for the  same ritual. Yet another famous festival is   Khanda-vana-dahanam (in the Malayalam month of Dhanus). An artificial forest - Khandavana is created  and a bonfire is lit  symbolizing the Mahabharata event.


07. Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu temple, Kerala

  Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu temple, Kerala   temple 

Thrikodithanam Mahavishnu temple associated with Sahadeva, (the youngest of the five  Pandava brothers  of the Mahabharata) is  in Thrikodithanam, Kottayam district.  Is also one among the 5 shrines built by the five brothers in Kerala. It is a Divya Desam shrine in this state. It is dedicated to Sri Vishnu. and is found mentioned in   the ‘Unnineeli Sandesam’written  in the year 537 BCE(?).. According to the inscriptions in the temple, the ruler of Venad Sree Vallabhankotta used to visit to participate in the temple event. Sahadevan, the last brother to establish the temple on Vishnu was quite depressed over his difficulties in getting a suitable place and idol. The legend has it God Vishnu appeared as  an idol of  Chathurbahu  from the fire (pyre)  set by Sahadeva to commit suicide. This idol is referred to as Arputha Narayanan, as the god appeared suddenly. The deity is in standing posture facing the east direction and his consort is Karpagavalli.

The artistic and architectural ability is highlighted by the  roof of the temple and some of the pillars made of rich  lavish wood with fine stucco carvings. These wooden carvings depict various episodes from  the  ancient epics of the  Ramayana and Mahabharata. As in many Kerala temples  the outer walls around the sanctum have a series of wooden frames housing an array of lamps, which are lit during festival days. the second floor has  what is called  Kottupura, the hall of drum beating during festivals.   A monthly Sravana Deepams (festival of light) is performed. with religious fervor.   It is a two story Kerala-style structure with the upper floor  covered by wooden trails  all around. The roof projects in two levels to protect the inner structure from heavy rains during monsoon.

The rectangular boundary wall is called Kshetra-Madilluka with gate ways (entry) on all four sides. As per temple norms, the metal plated flag-mast or Dwajasthambam and the Deepastamba, the light post, are set axial to the temple tower  and  the sanctum. Chuttuambalam is the outer pavilion located within the temple walls. 

A distinctive worship ritual of this temple is ''Kurakkuttu dance'', a  unique dance form in which women with  an umbrella in hand  perform dance  during worship, a tradition not followed in any other Hindu temples in the north and south India. Hence the Kerala temples and their   traditions stand apart  in this country.

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Shri Vallabha Temple at Thiruvalla, Keraka - 29 astonishing facts

Add captionSree Vallaban templ, Thruvalla, Kerala,

part of flag-mast-Sree Vallabha temple Kerala

Above image: A part of  54 foot tall flag-mast - metal plated, Sree Vallabha temple Kerala......

Panthanmthitta dist., Kerala.

Shri  Vallabha Temple at Thiruvalla ( Pthanmithitta district)  is  unique and popular in Kerala  for the following reason: 

01. This temple dating  back to more than 2000 years and since its inception has it been following the same worship protocol since 59 BCE. This puja rituals, erc., are rooted in orthodoxy and no  compromise is made on the adherence to  Sastras covering temple rituals.  The vallabha kshethram is  mentioned in Garuda and Matsya Puranas, confirming the antiquity of this temple.  

02. hat is common in many temples in Kerala. The former is   Vaidiha Sampradaya established by 4th AD. origin. Tantra Samuchayam is  practiced insome  Bhagavathy temples of  Kerala. . 

03. To the main god  Sri Vallabhan , several offering are made, one being being the traditional dance of Kerala - Kathakali. It is a ritualistic offering done between 10 pm to 1 am (following morning). This is the only temple in India where the dance offering to God is made almost daily. This practice has been vogue for centuries. 

 04. The temple priests entering the sanctum/Srikovil must follow the traditional norms set by the temple authorities. Before entering the sanctum, they must take bath in the temple tank  Jalavanthy and must wear sandal paste on the fore head.   Sacred Viboothi (ash) is strictly prohibited (this is true of devotees as well)  on the temple premises. The main priest must be  50 plus year old and his  family does not have any hereditary rights  in the Shiva temple. The priests  are changed every three years. Yet another restriction is the priests  entering the sanctum are not allowed to enter other shrines on the temple complex.    

 05. This is the only Vishnu temple where both the deity and the Sri Chakra are worshipped under the same roof.  The Srichakra installed here is an  ancient one and later a shrine had been built by the queen of Cherman . Cherumthevi in 59 BC.

06. The main deity Sreevallabhhan ( Sri Vishnu incarnated as a bachelor to kill a demon) is a bachelor, hence women were not allowed inside the temple till 1968 except on a couple of festival days.

07. The  surrounding  compound walls on all four sides  are 4.5 foot thick   and 12 -foot tall, stretching 566 feet  all around  with entry  2 tier tower (gopura vaasal)  facing  all cordial direction. The boundary wall is made of red granite. 

08. In almost all temples the flag-mast (Dwajasthampam) is made of metal - mostly copper or brass and also gold in some temples. But, here the tall flag mast  facing the Vallabha shrine is made of monolithic black granite. 

09. The temple water tank is a big one covering  1.5 acres and the temple  complex includes  a  sprawling 8 acres of land  including vacant space.  

10. The  primary idol of Sri Vallabha in the Srikovil - sanctum  is a beautiful  tall  ( 7-foot tall)  maasive one in standing posture over a tall platform   The legendary architect  of this temple  was Perunthachan. 

11. A striking feature in this temple is the  54 foot tall Garuda sthambam  - flag mas is it  is made of a single block of granite. Believe it or not, it was built in  57 BC .

12. The temple administration had been under the care of the Brahmin family- Pattillathil Pottimar (Brahmins of ten families) till 1752-1753. - The ruler of Travancore  Marthanda Varma,-  1752-1753  seized control from the Brahmins  and, it is believed, that later Ramayyan Dalawa looted whole temple assets and took them to Thiruvanantha Puram.  So it was once a rich temple.

13. The 10 day annual  festival that fall is February,  attracts lots of people  During this festival  amazingly  12,000 bunches of Padatti Pazham (a variety of bananas) are made as offerings  to the lord on the first day itself.

14. Jalavanthi or Khandakarna theerthem, it is said,  is  self originated pond  is said  to  contain 64 hidden idols of the Lord. This pond is not for the devotees to use it and is for the priests entering the sanctum -Garbagrih. . 

15. The first ever work in the form of prose in Malayalam script  is the Thiruvalla inscription  dated to the first half of the 12th century AD, and came to light only  in 1915. 

16. The Unnuneeli Sandesam of the 13th century AD mentioned in details the  splendor, beauty and  the serenity of the surrounding places. 

17. This place once was a popular center of  spirituality  education.    More than 1000 students were taught  various courses in Vedic scripture. Ayrvedha, astronomy, maths and other courses were offered. The temple management ran an   Ayurvedic hospital with provision to take care of numerous patients. 

flag-mast, Garuda Mandapa and  main shrine, Sree Vallabha temple, kerala, wikipedia

18. With reference to Garuda Sthambam - flag-mast 54.4 foot tall - (Garuda/eagle is the mount of God Vishnu),  mentioned before, this monolithic  black stone pillar  was built in 57 BC. The amazing fact is it goes below the ground touching the water table way down. 

2nd passage, west side, Sree Vallabha temple,Thiruvalla,Kerala, en.wikipedia org 

19. The astonishing fact is there are no black granite outcrops either here or in the neighborhood.  Where did they find the rock and how did they  carve out a long pillar out of single block is a mystery. 

20. Another mystifying fact is how did they set the 3 foot  massive metal  idol of Garuda atop the pillar.  The method of transportation  and erection of such a long pillar without any breakage from the  source of rocks is a puzzle, considering the age of the structure.    

21. Vallyambalam ( structure linked to naalambalam at its main entrance and between Naalambalam and balikkalpura)  has two tiers with copper-plated roofs supported 16 stone pillars. These pillars and the roof have beautiful   minute carvings done with meticulous care. These features highlight the extraordinary skills of the artisans of past era.

.22. Circular Srikovil - (sanctum or garbagriha) is rare. Here, the main deity Sree Vallabhan facing the Garuda flag-mast,  is installed in the sanctum whose  outer perimeter is 160 feet. It has   three concentric walls.The deity has four arms carrying Chakra, conch (sangu) etc.. 

23. The 7 foot tall  massive idol is placed on a 10 foot platform right under the roof of Srikovil. To see the idol, the devotee has to bend his body to see the crown, but, bottom can not be seen. THis is unseal in other Hindu temples of South India. 

24.  The circular, copper roofed and gold-plated domed  sanctum   is amazingly adorned with finely etched murals of other deities  - Matsya, Kaaliyamardana, Kurma, Dakshinamurthy, Varaha, Venu gopala, Maha Ganapathy,  Besides, the various avatars of Sri Vishnu, goddess Lakshmi, Kali avatar (not yet taken by the lord) and garuda  are etched in a clock-wise manner.

25.Also installed in the Srikovil is Sudarsana  in human form with eight hands each carrying various attributes of Sri Vishnu and his weapons, etc.. 

Garuda image Sree Vallabhan temple, kerala,

Above image   Garuda image above the roof facing the shrine, Sree Vallaban (Sri Vishnu)temple); a divyadesam shrine.  

26. This is the  only/ sanctum in a Vishnu temple where  both Sri Vishnu and  Sudarsana are installed under the same roof. Elsewhere, in many Vishnu temples, there is  separate shrine for Sri Sudarsana.

27. The belief has been that the tall, massive walls all around the temple stretching 550 feet .and the tall stone Garda Sthambam were built   on a sing day (in 57 BC) by the crew of the lord. - apparently boothaganas. -goblins?on lord's instruction 

28. The  architect of this temple designed the Graruda image that was cast in Pachaloka ( a blend of five metals)  and set atop the flag-mast.

29. The place Thiruvalla was once a village among 64  Namboothiri villages in Kerala.  and this temple is the largest (land-wise) and oldest in Kerala state. I is an important divyadesam shine in Kerala like the Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvanantha puram. .

Friday, 16 October 2020

Divyadesam Shrines (dedicated to Sri Vishnu) in the state of Kerala - 01

A  Divya Desam or Vaishnava Divya Desam is one of the 108 Vishnu temples that are mentioned in the works of the Azhwars (saints). ”Divya” means “divine” and “Desam” suggests  “place of abode” (temple). Among them 11 are in Kerala.  Of the 13 Malai Nadu Divya Desam  shrines, two are in the distinct of Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu: 01. Thirupatisaram Kuralappa Perumal Temple,. 02. Thiruvattar Sree Adikesava Perumal Temple, and the  rest are in Kerala state:
01. Thiruvananthapuram Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple
02. Thiruvalla Sree Vallabha Temple
03. Thiruchitat Maha Vishnu Temple
04. Thiruppuliyoor Maha Vishnu Temple
05. Thiruvaranmula Sree Parthasaradhi Temple
06. Thiruvanvandoor Maha Vishnu Temple
07. Thrikkodithanam Maha Vishnu Temple
08. Thrikkakara Vamana Moorthy Temple
09. Thirumoozhikkalam Lakshmana Perumal Temple
10. Thirumittakkod Anchumoorthy Mangalam Temple
11. Thirunavaya Nava Mukunda Temple

The12 Azhwars   who  lived during the 5th-8th centuries AD,  glorified 108 Vishnu shrines  called Divya desam shrines and their devotional hymns on God Vishnu in chaste  Tamil are compiled as a collective religious work called  Nalayira Divya Prabandham containing 4000 verses extolling the virtues of God Vishnu and 108 shrines are revered in their work. The striking aspect is that they hail from different castes. Thondaradi Azhwar, Mathurakavi Azhwar, Peria azhwar and his daughter Andal were from Brahmin community and the rest were  from other communities. Divyadesam is often referred to as Tamil Vada. In all Vaishnavite temples, the priests following Thenkalai or Vadakalai sects Smprathayam)   chant the Divyadesam songs  regularly as part of Puja protocol and during  temple festivals.  

Of the 108 temples, 105 are in India, one is in Nepal, and the last two are believed to be outside the Earthly realms. They are spread across India  covering many states like  Tamil Nadu (85), Kerala (11), Andhra Pradesh (2), Gujarat (1), Uttar Pradesh (4), Uttarakhand (3). The only Divaya Desam shrine in Nepal is Muktinath- Saligramam. The foremost Divyadesam   shrine is Sri Ranganathar  temple at Srirangam near Tiruchi and it is the largest functional temple in the world. The temple covers an area of 155 acres (63 ha) with 81 shrines, 21 towers, 39 pavilions and several water tanks. The earliest structure dated back to 817 CE. This post covers four  Vishnu shrines. 

01. Thirunavaya Navamukunda Temple, Kerala :

Thirunavaya Navamukunda Temple, Kerala, 

Thirunavaya Navamukunda Temple

This temple  at  Tirunavaya, Mallapuram dist is on the banks of the Bharatappuzha (River Ponnani), and th main deity is  Navamukundan (Narayana-Vishnu). For daily puj and festivals the water is drawn from the near-by river as this shrine has neither pond or water well for temple needs. The three temples dedicated to Brahma - Siva temples (Cherutirunavaya)  across the river Ponnani  is often referred to as  Trimurthi Sangama. It is popular place for offering tharpanam (thithi) for the ''pithrus'' - forefathers.

Here, the temple has a separate grabagriha (srikovil/sanctum) and differs from other temples where the god's consort  Goddess lakshmi gives dhashan together with the lord. Yet another interesting fact is here Mahamaham is celebrated every 12 years and the tradition has been around since the 8th century. In Tamil Nadu the temple town of Kumbakonam (thanjavur dist.) is the venue of Mahamaham every 12 years. 

It is quite unfortunate the temple faced the fury of Tipu Sultan of Mysore and his army during his raid in Kerala  in  the later part of the 18th century and later in 1921   during the Mappila Rebellion by the Muslims. The present temple built in Kerala style is being managed by Samutiri of Kozhikode (Zamorin of Calicut) as the managing trustee  under the govt. controlled  Malabar Devaswom Board,
02. Thrikkakara Vamanamoorthy Kshethram:

Thrikkakara Vamanamoorthy temple, Kerala.

Thrikkakara Vamanamoorthy Kshethram

Thrikkakara Vamanamoorthy Temple  close to Ernakulam is dedicated to Lord Vamana/Vishnu. an avatar of Sri Vishnu. Being the origin of the most famous  10-day long Onam festival (month of August and September) of Kerala, this temple is the venue of the grand Onam feast in which people surpassing religion and casts participate in it with great interest.  Further, Thrikkakara is believed  to have been the abode of the King Mahabali. It is a colorful festival and during festivities the performing arts of Kerala such as Kathakili  are showcased  by live performances. when this place came under the control of the English company nd Marthanda Varma  from the Kochi kingdom, the onam festival continued without a break under the leadership of the Maharaja of Travancore by the local rulers (naduvazhis). It continued till India became free from the British rule. Since 861 common Era, this festival has been around according to temple records. 

Believed to have been established by God Parasurama, in this temple set in a picturesque  place the deity is dedicated to God Vamana, an incarnation of Vishnu. There is a main  deity of Sri Vishnu in the temple. The idol of Vamana ( a Brahmin dwarf) is depicted as preparing to place  his right  foot on the head of Mahabali.  On the walls of the inner temple complex walls  there is a series of thousands of lamps called Chuttuvilakku ('surrounding lamps)'. On estival dys these oil lamps are light. There are two temple ponds;  one is  the Kapilatheertham close to the temple and only temple priests can use them. The other being on the North  side outside the temple walls. It is for the Aaraattu temple ritual - ceremonial bath of the idol during Onam festival and, etc. There are three large mantaps/halls  for performing dances, weddings and holding Onam feast. During the 10 long Onam festival,  each day, the idol is colorfully decorated in the form of one of the ''Ten Avatars of Vishnu'',

The other major festivals celebrated here are Vishnu, Makara Sankranti, Navarathri and Saraswati Puja.
03. Thirumoozhikulam Sree Lakshmana Perumal temple, Kerala: 

Thirumoozhikulam Sree Lakshmana Perumal temple ,Kerala,

Lakshmana Swamy temple,Thiru Moozhi Kkulam,Kerala, wikipedia

Thirumoozhikulam Sree Lakshmanaperumal temple in Thirumoozhikalam (Moozhikkulam) of Ernakulam district  is unique shrine where the main deity is  Sri Lakshmana, the second brother of God Rama (Vishnu incarnate) ShriVaishnava Azhwars especially  Nammalvar and Thirumangai Azhwar glorified this temple  in their devotional Tamil hymns (holy Nalareera Prabhdamam). Built in a serne picturesque place with  greenery in the Srikovil the main deity is Sri Lakshmana Perumal.holds the main sanctum dedicated to Lakshmana Perumal. Managed by  the Travancore Devaswom Board, the main10- day annual  festival falls in the Malayalam month of Medam (April/May).

One of the 13 Malai Naatu (Kerala/Chera) Divya Desams the temple is associated with the epic Ramayana. The  legend. has it when  Sri Rama and Lakshmana were in exile as ordered by their father king Dasaratha,  their brother Bharata, quite upset over his unexpected succession to the throne of Ayodhya, came to the forest to see his brothers. Upon seeing Bharata in their place, Lakshmana thought Bharata  would create mischief and decided to attack him. Later realizing his mistake and Bharat'a  abundant respect for Sri Rama Lakshmana felt ashamed. Both  Bhahata and Lakshmana together worshipped at  Tirumoozhikkalam. The name Tirumoozhikalam has its origin in this incident-  "tiru-mozhi-kalam" meaning ''place  where sweet words were uttered''.

Another legend has it that  during the great deluge (Pralayam) - at the end of the Dvapara Yuga, town Dvaraka was covered by the sea and the four idols of Sree Rarma, Bharatha, Lakshmana and Shathrughna which Lord Sree Krishna worshipped, were also  submerged in the sea. Centurie late the idols were washed ashore  near  Thriprayar.  The local fishermen found the idols and handed over them to the ruler Vakkay Kaimal Naduvazhi.The ruler also had  a strange dream that night about the idols on near the  beach..   Vakkay Kaimal, The ruler had the idols installed reverentially in  four temples as directed in the dream; Rama at Thriprayar, Bharata at Irinjalakuda, Lakshmana at Moozhikkulam and Shathrughna at Payammal. 

In this part of Kerala  the belief  has been that if a devotee  undertakes the pilgrimage and visits all the four shrines on the same day itself in the Malayalam  month of Karkidakam (15 July to 15 August) - the Ramayana Masam,  he will attain salvation and be free from sins committed so far. Devotees in  thousands  undertake this holy  pilgrimage, with religious fervor.and it  is popularly known as "Nalambalam Yatra" -  a holy trip  to four temples (Nalambalam).. Further in this place at the request of sage  Harita God  Vishnu to establish in the Kali Yuga (in whic people would commit all kinds of sins) Varnashrama Dharma,  uttered the sacred words,; hence this place came to be known as  as Thirumoozhikalam.

04. Sreevallabha Temple, Thirunalla, Kerala:

  Sreevallabha Temple , Thiruvalla, Kerala,

Sreevallabha Temple, located close to Ramapuram and just 2.5 km from  Thiruvalla railway (Pathanmthitta district)  station and roughly 2 km from KSRTC bus stand, is one of the oldest  Hindu  temples in India.  Dedicated to Sri Vishnu who is known as Sreevallabhan, this Divayadesam shrine is steeped  in history. The Vaishnavite Azhwars (saints)  Nammalvar of the 5th century AD and Thirumangai Azhwar  of the 9th century AD  had glorified this temple in their works in the Tamil Canon  Nalaayera Thivyaprabhandam. The 10 the century AD devotional work of Sreevallabha Ksethra Mahathmyam glorified this temple. A unique distinction of this  temple is that  Kathakali dance is performed daily as a ritualistic offering to the almighty. Kathakali Puja is  at  10 pm to 1 am at night. It is the only Hindu temple in India where the largest number of Kathakali performances are staged every year. Lots of devotees come to this temple to get blessed by the deity. This temple at Thiruvalla  known for its orthodoxy and strict adherence to temple temple  Sastras, creates distinctive ambiance,  enhancing the divinity and sanctity  of the place of worship.. 

This Vallabha shetram is mentioned in Garuda  and Matsya Puranas. Inscriptions in the temple suggest that the temple for Sudarshana Chakra, an important part of Sri Vishnu temples was installed way back in  2998 BCE. Historians point out that   Sreedevi Antherjanam of Sankramangalathu Illam (a Namboodri family) built the  temple for Sudarshana Chakra  and in 59 BCE Queen Cherumthevi  (wife of King Cheraman Perumal) renovated and expanded the temple for the benefits of local people. In no other temples  one can worship both  lord Vishnu and lord Sudarsana  together under the same roof.

This place of worship  by AD 1100  was once an important center for education and spiritual knowledge.  Sri Vallabhan temple maintained a Vedic school with more than 1200 students (Vidhyarthis) and as many as 150 teachers (Adyabika). Courses in Vedanta, Ayurveda, Jyotisha, Kalaripayattu etc., were offered to the students. The temple also  managed an Ayurvedic hospital to treat 100 patients at a time. Obviously this ancient center of education played no less role in the growth and development of education and culture native to Kerala.  Here, Sri Vishnu incarnated as Brahmachari Vallabhan  at the request of sage Durvasa  and eliminate demon  Thokalaasuran. who terrorized the people and the saintly.  In this temple that follows altogether different puja protocol, etc., for a pretty long period. it is said, the deity in the Srikovil was once worshipped by Goddess Lakshmi and Sri Krishna. in 59 BCE.  When the temple was managed by  Pathillathil Pottimar  (Brahmins of ten families), between 1752-1753, the ruler of Travancore Marthanda Varma assisted by his dewan  Ramayyan Dalawa  not only took over the control of the temple from the Pottimar  but also thousands of acres of land owned by the temple, It is said, dewan  Ramayyan Dalawa, who was close to the ruler, looted the whole temple assets and transferred them  to Thiruvananthapuram.. Since 1968  women  and also elephants have been allowed to enter the temple.  However, women   were allowed only during Thiruvathira of Dhanu month and Vishnu of Medam till then.  Apparently, from the present generation point of view, it was a male bastion .50 years ago.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Palakkad fort, Palakkad, Kerala - 18 interesting facts

grand entrance of Palakkad fort, Palakkad,

moat, Palakkad fort, Kerala. Trip 

Palakkad fort, in the prime location of Palakkad town, is one of the finest and well preserved forts in the state of Kerala. Steeped in history, it saw the fall of Tipu Sultan of Mysore who took over the fort after the death of his father Hyder Ali. Later the East India company took the control over the fort for their expansion in the southern peninsular India. Unlike the forts in the northern  and western states of India, it is not a  sprawling fort  with well decorated palaces, buildings with powerful cannons, etc. This was mainly built  for defensive purpose. 

Palakkad location map, Kerala.

Mysore rulers Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan,

The following features make this fort stand apart. 

01. Hyder Ali, who was the military general with the ruler of Mysore kingdom - the Wadiyar royal family,  visited this place in 1756 at the request of the  Ittikkombi Achan, the king of Palakkad, He sought the military assistance of Hyder Ali as the local ruler, had faced  constant threats from the Zamorin ruler of   Kozhikode.  Hyder Ali,  was holding a key position at Dindikal (now part of Tamil Nadu).  At that point of  time within the royal family of Mysore, there were serious issues brewing, besides the ruler was facing  threats from other kingdoms outside . 

Palakkad Fort, Palakkad, Kerala.

02. The ruler of Palakkad in 1755 ACE wanted to build a fort and asked his friend in 1757 one  Kallekulangara Raghava Pisharody to identify a suitable land that could provide adequate protection and other needs like water, etc. In the southern part of India most of  the forts,  with some exceptions, were built with mud-lime mix just for basic resistance against the invading army  

03. Being an astrologer and architect, Pisharody advised the king to build a strong fort with hard stones to resist against artillery attack from the invaders. Further, the  durable fort could last longer  irrespective of vagaries of weather, climatic condition, etc.  The fort was to be  built with armory and other features associated with any fort.. 

04. Hyder Ali realized the importance of this fort in the south Malabar region with which he could improve communication  with Coimbatore. This could help him mobilize his army along with army stationed in Dindukal. 

05. An interesting historical fact is involvement of French engineers who designed the fort with facilities like  water resources, adequate armory to store arms and ammunition besides open ground in front of the fort  to have clear and free firing range. Another advantage is, the guards could spot any enemy movements far away from the fort and could inform the defending army before hand. 

06. Kannur and Bekal may be  bigger forts, but they are devoid of a moat around them; the Palakkad  has a wide and deep moat and for a soldier on the horse, it is impossible to leap over it even when the moat becomes dry during the summer. 

07. The moat is  built in such a way, the water would never get dried up in any of the hot summer  months. 

08. The fort had a copious supply of water to last long for a  long siege by the raiding army. There is a well-preserved step well inside the fort and also a Hindu temple dedicated to God Hanuman. The Mysore rulers never destroyed the temple for the simple reason that the Hindu god would protect them and the soldiers. 

09. The Mysore rulers had stationed 10000 soldiers with adequate arms and supplies to use the troops  here and at Dindukal as enforcement forces in case of war in near-by places. 

10. The fort is a blend of features of  both 'jala durgam' and 'mahee durgam'  (as in 'Arthasasthra'). The entry gate faces west as in many Islamic forts and  the structure is similar  to the forts at Srirangapatna, near Mysore and Agra.

11. Hyder Ali, (c. 1720 – 7 December 1782), rising to the post of Dalavayi (commander-in-chief)  to Maharajah Krishnaraja Wodeyar II, he not only began to  dominate the titular monarch and the Mysore government but also took advantage of the confusion in the royal family and finally sized the kingdom in 1761. Owing, his allegiance to the  Nizam of Hyderabad, however, Hyder Ali  fought many wars with skill and tactics for the Mysore ruler. . 

12. Hyder Ali with a powerful army took over the Palakkad fort  and imprisoned  king Ittikombi Achan the local ruler. He  shifted the king to his  Srirangapatna fort, With the king's authority, Ali  began collecting taxes in the Plalakkad area.  

13. Upon Hyder Ali' death (on 6 December 1782),  his son Tipu Sultan grew to be a powerful  ruler and gave stiff resistance to the EIC's expansion down south. During the second Angelo-Mysore war  (1780–84)  Tipu Sultan continued the battle after his father's death (while away on war campaign)and along with the French forces in 1782 he firmly protected the fort. 

14. The British forces led by Col. Fullerton overcame the 11 day siege  (siege began on 15 November 1784) and captured the fort.  Later, Tipu  recaptured the fort after a short spell. 

15. Surprisingly, the Mysore army used this fort to mint coins with a view to replacing the coin named 'Veerarayan panam  by  ''Hydari'' - Sultan panam

14. It was here the Kochi king Rama Varma Sakthan Thampuran and Tipu Sultan met  in 1788 and the latter asked his help  to raid  the Travancore  kingdom (now a part of Kerala)  ruled by Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma (Dharma Raja).The Kochi ruler, being shrewd, did not make any commitments to Tipu. 

15. Yet another interesting incident associated with this fort is Tipu Sultan met a famous astrologer one  Machatt Ilayathu. and asked him to predict the fate of his pet parrot. When he said it would live long, Tipu  tried to kill the bird with his sword . It was a futile attempt and the bird escaped without any trace. Since then this astrologer had become the court astrologer of Tipu, who was a strong believer in astrology . 

16. Another piece of information is during the Hyder Ali period, the slave trade was on on the coastal Malabar and historians say the Mysore ruler did not ban it. The price for a slave was 200 to 250 'panam' during Hyder Ali's time. If a buyer  wanted to buy  two or three child slaves  the price was just 100 panam.

16. Tipu Sultan' luck took a down hill journey. In the final Angelo - Mysore war, Tipu Sultan was killed in his fort Srirangapatna (now part of Karnataka) in 1798 by the  troop led by officer Wellesley and in 1790under Col Stuart, the British company began improving the facilities in the fort.  Later  the British Raj (under the Crown administration) continued to use it as  a garrison, etc., for the army.

17. For administrative reasons Palakkad became a taluk under the jurisdiction of the Madras Presidency. During the struggle, the British used to imprison leading people who protested against their rule. 

18. The most impressive feature of this rhombus shaped fort its e enormous thick walls  which could withstand heavy bombardment of cannons. This is the reason why  the fort is durable even today and is well-preserved.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

The Historical Palakkad Fort of Palakkad ,Kerala - once under ruler Hyder Ali and the English company (EIC)

.Palakkad fort, Palakkad, Kerala,

The Palakkad Fort, Palakkad, Kerala  

Palakkad location map, Kerala.

The  Palakkad Fort located in the busy area of Palakkad city  is a pretty old fort  and has a chequered  history. It was repaired and improved  by the the military general under the ruler of Mysore and father of Tipu Sultan - Hyder Ali in 1766.ACE. Being a shrewd man, knowing the strategic location of this place, Hyder  had the fort built with proper planning and it is one of the best preserved forts in Kerala. Later he took over the Mysore kingdom and after him, his son Tipu Sultan became the successor to the throne. With the French forces he resisted the expansion of the East India company operating in the northern part of south India. Subsequently, the fort fell into the hands of the English company under Col. Fullerton during the 2nd Angelo- Mysore war.  There was a stiff resistance from the Sultan's  army and the siege lasted for 11 long days. After they abandoned the fort, the Zamorin ruler of part of Kerala region  captured it. The English company, ever looking for expansion of land, recaptured the fort in 1790 under the command of Col Stuart and  it was renovated and used as a base for  military operations during the final Angelo-Mysore war that saw the fall of Tipu Sultan who was killed in 1798 and his Srirangapatna  fort captured by the military officer Wellesley (later called Duke Wellington).   The British  used this fort as a garrison till the middle of the 19th century.  It was again repaired in the early 1900 after Palakkad was converted in to a Taluk under the Madras presidency. 

The Palakkad Fort from north wall, Kerala,

The Palakkad Fort, Palakkad town, Kerala,

The distinctive features of this fort are  the rhombus shape and  enormously thick walls all around made of granite.  Being an inland fort, it can withstand heavy artillery bombardment of the enemy. It is almost a self contained fort with all amenities to withstand long siege. There are  few tiled buildings, granaries, a step - well and an armory to store arms and ammunition  to last for a while in case of a long siege.
Step-well inside Palakkad fort,Palakkad, Kerala. commons
A small temple dedicated to  Anjaneya Swamy (with the stone carving image of the deity) has been here for centuries.  Tipu Sultan and his army, it is said, never touched the Hindu temple  believing that the deity was protecting the fort and the army inside from enemy attack.  Also located inside are the sub-jail and a big garden, There exists a big ground between the fort and the town, perhaps for watching the enemy movements and firing at the approaching  soldiers. This kind of rampart is part of fort plan of the early period to have free firing range from the fort.[monuments]/12/

Sunday, 11 October 2020

A glimpse of India's ''Vernacular Architecture''

Traditional Chettiar home,Chettinad,Tamil Nadu, S. India.

Traditional Chettinad house, Tamil Nadu.

Above image::Thinnai in the Tamil language (porch) overlooking a Muttram in local parlance (courtyard) of a traditional Chettinad house in Tamilnadu India. Chettiar community is traditionally involved in business and invariably, most of them are rich. The Chettinad region is well known for its 19th-century mansions, whose wide courtyards and spacious rooms are embellished with marble and teak. .Many of them are built   using a type of limestone known as kara..  The homes have tiled flooring, using   what are called Athangudi tiles of impressive  and stunning colors . These tiles are locally made. by using traditional methods. The wood is mostly teak wood imported from Burma (Myanmar)............................  

Unlike normal architecture that  emphasizes imaginative designs of  buildings with  decorated doors, entrances, windows, roofs,  features of domes,  gables and turrets, etc.,stairways, facade, balcony  etc., with  right embellishments, the vernacular architecture is a reflection of local materials and knowledge with simple design, normally  without the  guidance or supervision of professional architects. Quite common in the  pre-industrial societies,  a preponderance of buildings  and settlements  fall under the category of Vernacular architecture. It covers a wide spectrum of  buildings of different styles and traditions, and methods of construction, using locally available materials. The distinctive aspects of  such  buildings are simplicity and down to earth practical - be they for  residential purposes or  for other uses. The Vernacular architecture encompasses cultural building traditions that have been passed down through several generations. As the styles and techniques evolve, each vernacular structure is modest, cost-effective, and sustainable, serving the basic needs. 

As far as Indian vernacular architecture is concerned  such informal, but functional  structures  with basic necessities are more often found in rural  or semi urban  areas built with local materials  to meet the needs of the people there. Though their knowledge of basic architecture is minimal,  their construction methods and design  bring out  the  rich diversity of India's  old tradition and practical  application in relation to climatic changes and terrain. The variations and distinctive designs follow the  local social customs, norms  and craftsmanship. It is estimated that globally about  90% of all building is vernacular, meaning that it is for daily use for ordinary, local people and built by local craftsmen.

Across  India there are numerous traditional  styles native to a region. In the northern Indian states the style is more or less common. In the NE and in the SW parts, the traditional  style is different  in tune with the geography. Comparing  to Hindu temple architecture and Indo-Saracenic architecture, in the past much more use of wood than stone  was quite prevalent  But in the modern era  brick and concrete  structures dominate the landscape, but aesthetically they are not appealing unlike wooden structures. In the past  couple of decades Indian architectural structures  are built with  Western styles  and they dominate the urban spaces.

The building materials vary depending on the terrain. In the hilly areas, houses have sloping roof in places where monsoon rains are heavy. Example: Kerala and NE India and in the Himalayan region that receives snow at higher elevation. Wooden  houses  are common with extended sloping roof. Further, houses on hills normally  have two stories, with the livestock living on the ground floor. Often a verandah runs along the side of the house.  They are built on a raised platform to avoid water run-off in the rainy season. On the flat lands, adobes are  built with  mud or sun-baked bricks,  and then plastered inside and out, sometimes with mud mixed with hay or even cow dung and whitewashed with lime.

Where bamboo is available it is widely used  across India as it is flexible and resilient.  In the plains, bamboo poles are used to support thatched roof or country- mud -tiled roof as in the rural and semi rural areas. Some semi -pakka houses have mud-tiled roof over a series of thick bamboo poles. In the case of bamboo poles used for roof construction, periodic checking and upkeep is a must as they lose durability over a period of time.  Despite the variations and diversity across the land, Indian Vernacular architecture can be classified into three categories with some overlapping. 

The simple classification of Vernacular architecture is s follows:


A kachcha is a  simple  structure  and needs to be replaced periodically.  Such structures are  not strong  and found in the rural areas.The buildings include  natural materials such as mud plaster, bamboo, thatch and wood over the mud wall. Materials may vary from place to place. In the hilly places, locally available stones are used for wall construction.


A pakka type is a structure  with good durability made from materials resistant to wear, such as forms of stone or brick, clay tiles, metal or other strong  materials, sometimes using mortar to bind.The building does not need to be constantly maintained or replaced. These structures are expensive.  In the past invariably wooden rafters were used for terraced ceiling  supported by either wooden pillars or polished stone. This type  ceiling is called Madras terrace, quite common in South India. The binding material is lime and sand mixed with what is locally called Kadukai and Jaggery ( country sugar made from sugar cane) to improve the binding. Thin clay tiles are used for this purpose. 


A blend of  the kachcha and pukka styles, The semi-pukka style mostly seen in the rural landscape and the structure includes better and durable  construction materials; it means the structure will last  longer.  The interesting part is such a structure is  organic and the design changes  as the needs and  income resources of the people change. Most of  such traditional  structures come under  semi-pkka category of Vernacular architecture.

The following  are the images of many of the traditional houses'buildings  built across India in the past:

Toda tribal hut,  Ooty, Nilgiri hills, Tamil Nadu

Toda tribal hut, Ooty, Nilgiri hills, Tamil Nadu

Above images: Toda tribal hut, often compared to ancient Gavaksha roof and arch

Wooden Wada house courtyard,

PolHouse, wooden carving, Gujarat

Above image: Wooden carving outside Pol house, brick and wood joinery walls with lime plaster, Gujarat.

Rows of sandstone haveli,

Kitchen in a simple South India home.

Agraharam houses near Kumbakonam, TN, Alamy com.

Traditional Brahmin homes (Agraharam),Thanjavur,dist,TN

Kerala-Kalpathy agraharam houses,

Traditional Chettinad homes, Tamil Nadu,

gujarat rural homes

Traditional home, Assam, NE India.

Assam rural home, NE India

Karnataka, Godava home.

Traditional home for a large family, Kerala.

Above image Kerala state; Nalukettu or the traditional homestead where generations of family lived together as single large family. 

rural Bengal hut,

Heritage old Goan house, Goa,W.India.

old house in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, N. India.

Traditional home in the Himalayan region,

Old Mylapore house,

Abova image: Ornate wood work and a sleek balustrade adorn the façade of house on South Mada Street, Mylapore, part of Chennai city. Many of this type of houses have disappeared.. Pic: Seetha Gopalakrishnan