Almost every Hindu temple has a wooden chariot or “ther” to take out the idols on procession on designated occasions. Though they are used only occasionally, great attention is given to the chariots. Most have very elaborate wooden carvings matching or even surpassing the stone sculptures in beauty. They are also adorned with all ‘alankarams’ when needed: otherwise, they are confined to their sheds. Modern technology is nowadays used for wheels, axles, brakes etc to enhance the safety factor.
The above ‘ther’ is from the Kodanda Rama Temple, West Mambalam. It has recently been spruced up for a festival.
Very few visitors to Mamallapuram get to see the Pidari Ratham and Valian kuttai rathams.These are located about 500 mtrs West of Arjuna’s penance and can be reached by road. The entrance to the complex is close to ECR.
Both rathams are unfinished structures carved out of huge boulders. The work has begun from the top but the bottom is not completed. They resemble huge ‘Chettiar bommais’ at the bottom. The sanctums are also not complete and one is not sure for which god(s) these are meant for.
When we reached the Valiankuttai ratham, a man was peacefully sleeping in the niche, oblivious of the visitors.
‘Gopura darisanam kodi punyam’, goes the saying in Tamil. Gopuram is the tower at the entrance of a south Indian Hindu temple. For those who can not go to the temple for some reason, even viewing the tower is considered to be a blessing. The kodimaram or Dwaja stambham is the other tall structure.
Viewing both through my lens was indeed a blessing at the Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal temple in Saidapet. The bird in flight added to the dynamism of the image.
Fort St.George Chennai has so much history to showcase. But the whole site is pathetically neglected and abused. There are multiple authorities which claim ownership of various segments or installations – Archeological Survey of India (ASI), Ministry of Defence and the Government of Tamil Nadu. Heritage ultimately suffers.