14 January 2007

Temple Town

The town of Tiruvannamalai has an axial and visual line with the Arunachala Temple in the centre. Traditionally, streets abutting the Temple housed the people who were engaged in Puja and other associated Temple activities. The next round of streets around the Temple were for the movement of the Temple Chariots. These streets also housed Mutts (Ashrams) belonging to various communities which were used for accommodating pilgrims visiting the Temple from various places. Buildings in these streets with vernacular architecture had traditional values. In the space in front of the Temple, small vendors used to sell things meant for offerings to God. These streets around the Temple had low intensity commercial activities. Other residences were found in the next round of Streets followed by big market area.

When Tiruvannamalai started to grow, the concept of the Temple town was not preserved and developments have taken place haphazardly leading to a mess.

Streets abutting the Temple have been encroached upon by hawkers, petty shops and vehicle parking and the space in front of the Temple has also been occupied by temporary and permanent encroachers and vehicle parking.

Here are two permanent structures used as enclosures for two of the smaller chariots; a chariot is stationed in front of the structure.

The Chariot Streets (meaning the streets around the perimeter of the Arunachaleswarar Temple): i.e. Car Street, Thiruvoodal Street, Pe Gopuram Street and Big Street are proliferated with commercial establishments and wholesale traders near to the Temple.

The situation has become much worse now that pedal bicycles and oxen cart are being rapidly replaced by noxious and noisy motorbikes, scooters and Tempo Vans.

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