13 January 2007

Temple Compound

Yesterday went to downtown Tiruvannamalai to call in at the phone company. After finishing my business I remained chatting to the Store Manager, whereupon looking out of the large glass shopfront noticed Rocco, the Temple Elephant, standing outside. I love Rocco, and particularly enjoy watching her walk around free and relaxed during her regular parade around Arunachaleswarar Temple. The Temple is set in a 25 acre compound so the surrounding perimeter roads cover a long distance. By the time I dashed out of the store, got my camera ready for the photo, all I got was sweet Rocco's backside as she majestically proceeded on her way.

As always Rocco was followed by the statue of Annamalaiyar and Unnamalai; the deities of the Arunachaleswarar Temple. Fortunately I was in time to get a very nice photo of them.

Eager to get some more Rocco and Deity darshan, I quickly made my way to the South Gopuram of the Temple so I could run through and exit at the West Gopuram in time to catch the frontside of Rocco and the Deity parade as they continued their promenade. However once in the Temple compound I lost all my energetic enthusiasm and just wanted to remain and enjoy the amazing peace and silence of this wonderful Temple. So I just stayed a while and took some nice photographs. Below is a photo of some of the detail of one of the Temple Gopurams.

Here is a panel of the same Gopuram in more detail. It is from the third tier of the Gopuram on the rightside, two images inwards. If you look at the above photograph you can make out where the detailed panel fits in.

The below is a very serene photograph taken from inside the Compound with Arunachala as background.

Below is a picture of railings closing off access to one of the Temple Tanks. The railings around both Temple Tanks were installed about 3 years ago. Prior to that access to the Tanks was freely available and sadhus and pilgrims would bathe in the Tanks and even wash and dry their clothes on the stone steps. It used to be possible to sit on the flagstones and dangle your feet in the water while all the tank fish would swim nearby waiting to be fed bread and snacks. Hope those fish are doing okay without all that attention!

Here is a nice lad wearing red because he and his family are Shakti Ma worshippers. His family are sitting nearby having a picnic.

One of the very few shops in the huge Temple Compound. This is one dedicated to holy pictures and religious paraphanelia,

Its was beginning to get dark and lights all around the Temple compound were being switched on.

As I exited from the main Gopuram gate, this wonderful cow was standing motionless with head bowed directly in front of the gateway. Ramana Maharshi always used to say that many holy people return to Arunachala in secret guises and often in the body of an animal. When one sees something like this beautiful cow, prostrating for a long time in such a holy spot; it certainly makes one wonder; Who Are You or at least Who Were You?

Also right outside the main gate are stationed the lucky flower ladies, who nowadays also sell little ghee (clarified butter) lamps, camphor (for pujas) and other items necessary Temple worship. They are in a prime position, so without a doubt, do great business; good neighbourhood too!

To finish off my evening, the last photograph I took was of a rather magnificent looking sadhu. And no, I didn't get to see Rocco, the Temple Elephant again; I'll just have to go back and start all over again!

So a very good evening to all and a HAPPY PONGAL from Arunachala and Arunachaleswarar Temple.

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