Archive for the ‘History’ category

Chola Temple @ Chingelpet

September 20, 2008

When one travels south from Chennai, on the GST road just before chingelpet are a range of hills on the right, and of course the ‘never say dry’ kulavai lake on the left.

while people in fast moving vehicles fail to notice,  the more patient amongst them see up on one hill a board that says ‘Siva Siva’ .

folow the board that beckons you  on a track that leads you to the top where we find a peculiar mix of the old and new. a 1000 year old temple stands up to the roof level and above that the construction of a modern roof goes on.

i have visited the site way back in 1996. then  the abandoned and dilapitated temple had a linga  and all around it were snake skins. the amman temple had caved in.

now a swamiji with two labardor dogs has taken over the place and commenced puja.

the temple is called pulipakkam a reminder of an association with a saint called vyagrapadar who had tiger feet.

the base of the temple has an edict mentioning raja raja.

other than history the view from the hilltop is breath taking.

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ELEPHANT- PROOF GATES

September 17, 2008

kalki writes about the precautions the pallavas take to keep pulikesi at bay.

the gates of their forts are protected by spikes. when elephants in the  role of battering rams try to bludgeon the entrances the spikes would injure them and they in the ensuing pain turn on their friends. the elephants had a nice drink of water spiked with alchohol to combat the spikes on the gate( pun intended)

all these must have become obsolete with the invention of fire power. aim your cannon at the forts door and pull the fuse- it can accomplish what an intoxicated elephant goaded on by its mahout could do.

I saw this gate in a maratta fort in pune, maharastra. took my memories to sivakamiyin sabatham.

a european on tanjore temple?

September 13, 2008

the Tanjore big temple has its own mysteries and holds it close to its chest.

yes its true

a carving of a face distinctly caucasid in features and european in attire finds a place on the gopuram.
when was it done? and who modelled for it?
we have no clear answer.

local legends say it is a replacement for a sculpture that fell down from the gopuram. the story goes that it is the face of a danishman from tranquebar- an european trading post set up with a long lease from the serfoji dynasty of tanjore in 18th century.
but then there is one event in the 1000 year old history of the temple that could provide possible leads.

around 1800 Colonel William Lambton was entrusted with the job of measuring and mapping british india. Lambton decided to have a mathematical and geographical survey that would cover the whole of india with a network of triangulation. when he was through with his job he would have a meridian arc right up the centre of India from the southern tip as far as the Himalayas.
Precision was rigorously maintained and even today, despite more sophisticated mapping equipment and survey methods, the values arrived at by lambton cannot be disputed. Lambton’s contribution is significant not only for mapping and measuring but also for geography. in his work he measured the arc of the meridian near to Equator and his measurement was used to deriving the ellipsoid of the earth.
When surveying Tanjore district, in 1808 Lambton mentions that the country was so flat that he had difficulty in locating any natural prominence for sighting. He therefore used the gopurams of the temples that dotted almost every village and completed the land survey.

On one occasion, the giant theodolite, which he was using, fell from the top of the Tanjore Big Temple and was badly damaged.
He had to spend months repairing it under a tent pitched in open country, before he could restart his work.” or was he held by the locals till the gopuram was repaired?
did the half ton heavy theodolite instrument damage the temple sculptures and did the replacement sculpture denote this incident where a cheeky sculptor indicated european presence in the temple?
and does the bust have a double cheek like lambton himself?