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Adventures in Southern India IV: The Swami Temple

May 24, 2014 by  

Day 3 : Way Down Upon the Swami Temple

Names in India are tongue twisting words. I have declared the Arulmigu Swaminatha Swami Temple, in Swamimalai simply the Swami Temple. My group visited this ancient site the day after we left Pondicherry.

Swami is a Hindu temple near the city of Kumbakonam and the Cauvery river. The temple is one of the six holy shrines of Murugan. The temple has three gopuram, those huge gateway towers covered with hundreds of figures, three courtyards and sixty steps. There is also a large pool or water tank, formerly used in temple rituals.

When we entered we found a large group of people on the floor organizing mounds of paper money that I assume had been dumped from the collection containers. Another group was sorting coins.  Seemed odd that this was done in such a public space, but as I said over and over on my trip, “Things happen differently in India.”  Just observe.

Young Girl

Young Girl

We ran into a young girl who was celebrating a special day with her entire family. My apologies, but I really didn’t understand the meaning of her celebration. Anyway, the multi-generational family meandered through the formidable stone structure lined with hundreds of intricately carved pillars. The pinnacles were painted in bright almost neon colors as were sections of the ceiling. The family group stopped for short prayers at some of the statues. I just lingered behind.

Attached to the temple was a market area where vendors sold statuary, trinkets, flowers, fruit and treats. The ceiling of the collanade between the buildings was also brightly painted.

This temple, like Chidambaram seen in the morning, is ancient.  The website claims in is from the Sangam period during 2nd century BC and is thought to have been modified by Parantaka Chola I, during the 900’s AD. Also like  Chidambaram Nataraja Temple, this one was damaged during the Anglo-French war between Hyder Ali and British in 1740. Today the temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

We didn’t stay that long, just meandered around taking photos. Therefore, I believe the best way for me to present it, is simply to show my pictures.

Swami Temple Walkway

Swami Temple Walkway

Stone Pillar

Stone Pillar

Entering the Swami Temple

Entering the Swami Temple

Pillar Details

Pillar Details

The Temple Interior

The Temple Interior

Money Counters

Money Counters

Extended Family

Extended Family

The Temple Grounds

The Temple Grounds

Marketplace

Marketplace

Temple Ruins

Temple Ruins

 

 

 

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