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Smaller Shrines, Kailasanatha Temple

Smaller Shrines, Kailasanatha Temple

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Kailasanathar Temple

Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple is an important religious site is located on the banks of the Vedavathi River, at the western limits, facing the east side in the Kanchipuram city of Tamil Nadu. The temple holds great significance and value for the Hindu devotees and is visited by a large number of tourists all year round, but the number of visitors increases drastically at the time of the Mahashivratri.

The Kanchi Kailasanathar temple is embellished with beautiful paintings and fantastic sculptures. The Temple is the most ancient temple from amongst all the temples that are located in Tamil Nadu and was built during 685 A.D. and 705 A.D. The construction of this grand structure was started by the Pallava ruler Rajasimha, whereas his son Mahendra Varma Pallava completed it.

The architecture of the temple is an excellent example of the Dravidian style of construction, and the temple is carved out of sandstone. The architectural beauty of this temple is remarkably different from that of all the other temples in Tamil Nadu. A striking feature is the sixteen-sided Shiva lingam that is made up of black granite at the main shrine.

A Medieval Legend About the Temple

According to a medieval legend told by the Marathi people of Maharashtra, the Kailasa Temple was actually built within a week. This legend revolves around a queen whose husband was very ill. The queen prayed to Shiva, asking the god to heal her husband. In return for this favor, the queen vowed to build a temple dedicated to him and fast until the temple was completed. The queen’s prayers were answered, and she proceeded to fulfil her vows. The queen’s architects, however, were concerned about her fast, as such a grand temple would require a long time to complete. One of the architects, whose name was Kokasa, however, assured the queen that he could build the temple in a week. Kokasa kept his word, and began carving the temple out of the rock from the top to the bottom. In a week, the Kailasa Temple was finished.

"Temple of Kailasa at Ellora, India," a steel engraving, 1857. ( Public Domain )

Notable Elements of the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple

The various elements of the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple include a sanctum sanctorum (‘holy of holies’ or ‘main shrine’), a mandapa (‘main hall’), a compound wall, and a gopura (the monumental pyramidal tower over the entrance gate leading to the temple). The main shrine is noted for its 16 sided Shivalingam made of black granite. This shrine is enclosed by a compound wall with niches, into which 58 small shrines were carved. These shrines depict Shiva and Parvati in various dance forms.

Yali sculptures are another interesting feature of the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple. These are mythological beasts that resemble lions. In the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple, these creatures are portrayed standing on their hind legs, and may be found on the pillars of the mandapa.

Typical design of pillar at the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple with multi-directional mythical lions. ( CC BY 2.0 )

Local tradition states that the temple was used as a sanctuary by the kings of the dynasty during times of war. Therefore, a secret tunnel that served as an escape route was also built in the temple.

Chola architecture in full splendour

Having grown up in an agraharam house, I have a fascination for traditional lifestyle. And it is disheartening to see concrete structures replacing vintage houses in the villages. On a recent trip, I happened to visit a beautiful village Brahmadesam, which is close to Mannarkoil. It is located 44.3 km west of Tirunelveli, near the Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve and Ambasamudram. As I passed through the village, I had a chance to visit the Kailasanathar temple, standing majestically in front of a brimming pond that was surrounded by an agraharam .

The seven-tier gopuram (that has intricate wooden pillars in the first few levels) welcomes the devotees. A huge Nandi, in the imperial Rajendra Chola style, occupies the façade of this shrine. It is claimed to be a monolith and amongst the largest in the area. One would notice a bell with attached rings and tongue carved into the ceiling. Moving on to the main deity – Kailasanatha – I admired the wooden ornamental arches put up perhaps by Vishwanatha Nayak, whose image is seen close by. The main shrine is simple and Lord Kailasanatha is seen in solitary splendour.

Around the shrine are niches of other deities. All of them date to the Raja Raja – Rajendra period and show Chola craftsmanship at its best. The yalis and the pillars with lion as the base are impeccably sculpted. The amman shrine is situated adjacent to the main shrine. The temple is associated with Surya but strangely has no enclosure for the navagraham. The temple doesn’t find mention in the Thevaram but inscriptions are aplenty.

Sadasiva Raya of the Vijayanagar dynasty gifted an entire village to the temple, and the village came to be known as Raja Raja Chaturvedimangalam, a Brahmadeya [a tax free land gifted to Brahmins] in Mulli Nadu. Another inscription mentions the gift from Veppangulam to fund festival expenses through the year. Many 16th Century inscriptions speak of gifts by local merchants. Another from the same time mentions one Ayyangara Nayaka, the son-in-law of Peddu Nayaka, who built the inner gopuram. Another long inscription dating back to 1,625 is seen at the entrance . It records the royal writ granted by Viswanatha Nayaka through which the members of the five sub-divisions of artisans (Kanmalar) should not intermingle with each other. The temple authorities also declared the same for the benefit of their subordinates.

Coming out, we stopped at the magnificent Tiruvadirai mandapam built to perfection during the Nayak period. The elephants with warriors in the balustrades, the yali pillars and the elaborate pedestal within are all gems of 16th century art. From here one can also observe the military arrangements etched on the compound wall of the temple. The temple’s nellkuthupirai or the mandapam to process and store rice lies in a dilapidated condition.

The local priest Kumar, notwithstanding a meagre salary that is frequently delayed from the Government, is an enterprising man. Keen to restore the glory of the temple, he provides the required information. The second pontiff of the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt was from this village. The Rig Veda patasala has now been turned into a school due to lack of students. But that has not diminished the spirit of the ghanapadigal living here, who recites the Vedic hymns with deep devotion.

Kailasanathar Temple, Kanchipuram

Away from the hustle bustle of the city, amidst the rustic backdrop of the suburbs, lies the Kailasanathar Temple. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple was built by the Rajasimha Pallava, an eminent ruler of the Pallava Dynasty. The location of the Kailasanathar Temple in Kanchipuram is about half a kilometer away in the western direction from the centre of the town. The architecture of this temple in unique and one of its kind.

The distinctive features of the Kailasanathar Temple, though in ruins now, still clearly indicate how beautiful the temple must have been when it was built. Built of limestone, there are a number of amazing paintings and great sculptures that adorn the temple. During the Maha Shivaratri, there are thousands of people and worshippers who flock to this temple in the evening to offer their prayers on this auspicious occasion. The temple, a symbol of grandeur and glory of the Pallavas is now almost in ruins. It is a protected monument.

History of Kailasanathar Temple :

Though the construction of the Kailasanathar Temple was started by Rajasimha Pallava, it was his son Mahendra Varma Pallava who completed the construction. Local people believed that the temple Kailasanathar served the purpose of a shelter for the king during the time of the battles. The origin or the legend behind building this temple is lost in the distant past.

Description of Kailasanathar Temple :

Around the main shrine of the Kailasanathar, there are about 58 small shrines. The inner walls of the temple are decorated with beautiful fresco paintings. The panel of the Kailasanathar Temple, Kanchipuram is adorned with pictures that depict the dance competitions of Shiva and Parvati. The alcoves of the temple still have fragments of the murals from eight century. Beautiful specimens of Pallava art are exhibited in the temple.

Astral Tome entry [ edit | edit source ]

Scattered across the world are ancient shrines, built from marble by a civilization long past. Some of the most impressive shrines, featuring elaborate structures, have been located atop high hills and mountains, while smaller ones have been dug up from under the sands in deserts.

While they don't seem to be very special at first, it's told that many of them harbor old and sacred treasures. Unlike the legends, however, only a few old chests and stories of strange floating crystals have ever been found.

The floating crystals are quite bizarre. They appear to emit a constant shimmering Starlight that flickers in an eerie and enchanting way.

There is little doubt that these crystals are artificial. Their true age and origin is practically impossible to determine, but after some observation the crystal energies seem to be fixed in their alignment with the stars.

Not even the tiniest sliver can be chipped from the crystals in these shrines, even with the most destructive methods.

The behaviour of these crystals also seems strange. The light they emit appears to ebb and flow, like water, in response to certain objects being nearby. Maybe placing a crafting table close by would yield something interesting?

8. Trichy

This city is home to two of the most significant temples of Tamil Nadu. The Vinayaka Temple, perched on top of a 83 meter high rock, is dedicated to Lord Ganesh. Its construction was begun by the Pallavas and completed by the Nayaks in the late 14th century. You will have to climb 437 steps to reach the top to admire a small shrine dedicated to Ganesh. The high platform also provides a charming view of Trichy as well as Srirangam, a small island on the Cauvery River. Srirangam houses the humongous temple of Sri Ranganathaswami. It is the largest temple in India and its gopuram, measuring 72 meters, is the highest of its kind in the world. Trichy is an important place of pilgrimage for worshippers of Lord Vishnu.

The Temple of Athena Nike: A small shrine dedicated to one of Athena’s many incarnations

This small temple was dedicated to Victory, and was part of Pericles’ grand plan to showcase Athens’ power and glory.

The Temple of Athena Nike is the smallest structure on the Athenian Acropolis, but holds no less importance than its neighboring shrines. Built to honor Athena Nike, the goddess of victory, the site upon which the temple was constructed has ceremonial roots that date back to the Bronze Age. When the newer, Classical temple was built in the fifth century B.C., it no doubt did double duty: it stood as a shrine to Athens’ patron goddess, and also acted as a symbol of Athens’ military and political strength.

The location of the Temple of Athena Nike is on the southwest corner of the Acropolis, adjacent to the Propylaia. The position of the temple, on a rocky projection of the outcropping, was particularly vulnerable to attack. The Mycenaeans constructed a wall there to supplement the natural citadel of the Acropolis, and began worshipping there.

There is archaeological evidence dating back to the Bronze Age that suggests this spot was highly important to the worship of Nike, or victory, deities. By the sixth century B.C., also known as the Archaic period, a cult of Athena Nike was established and a small, earlier temple was built on the site. When the Persians sacked Athens and destroyed the Acropolis in 480 B.C., the temple to Athena Nike was also left in ruins.

Plans got underway to rebuild this important shrine in 449 B.C. With architect Kallikrates at the helm, the temple was to be a simple Ionic shrine, made of Pentellic marble, and included a prostyle porch with four columns on the front and back. It also was adorned with a sculptural frieze all around, as was customary in Greek temple construction. However, something delayed the construction, and it was not completed until around 420 B.C., built with Poros limestone and faced with marble. It was also surrounded by a sort of guardrail or parapet that would have kept Athenians and other visitors from falling off the Acropolis. This fortification was decorated with relief sculptures depicting various presentations of Nike.

As with all Greek temples, the Temple of Athena Nike would have housed a cult statue in its cella. In Greek mythology, Nike deities were often depicted with wings. This was not the case with Athena Nike. The wooden cult statue was wingless, and thus dubbed Apteros Nike, or “wingless victory”. This was perhaps to ensure that Nike (and hence and military victory or supremacy) would never abandon Athens.

Today, the Temple of Athena Nike can be seen on the Athenian Acropolis, in its restored state. It suffered much the same fate as the other buildings of the Acropolis, having been the victim of Ottoman occupation and Turkish siege in 1687. In 1834, the temple was reconstructed after Greece’s emancipation. In 1998, it was dismantled so that the crumbling concrete floor could be replaced, and its frieze was removed and placed in the Acropolis Museum, safe from the harsh environmental elements of Athens.

The Mysteries of Asia three-part video series was originally produced for the Learning Channel. During this segment, historians and others examine temples built in India more than 1,000 years ago. They remain quite intriguing, though today’s tourists rarely visit them. Records reveal that trained elephants had to drag millions of stone blocks to help erect these structures. The program notes that due to the temples’ size, the U.S. Senate, Versailles, the Houses of Parliament, and St. Paul’s Basilica in Rome could all fit within a single one of them. Michael Bell narrates as footage and animated maps are used to help viewers learn more about what these ancient structures look like and why they were built. Asia is a continent steeped in ancient cultures, religions, and buildings. In this intriguing program, we are transported to this exotic land and examine the mysteries behind some of the most fascinating structures found there. Southern India has the largest temple complexes ever built. In “Lost Temples of India”, we examine these 1,000-year-old temples adorned with intricate and beautiful sculptures. We learn how the kings used large herds of trained elephants to drag the millions of stone blocks into place and how these temples are virtually unknown and unvisited by Western tourists. Truth or fiction, the stories of Mysteries of Asia will amaze and delight.

When people think of India, they think of the Taj Mahal, Shāh Jahān’s eternal memorial dedicated to his wife Mumtāz Mahal. But there is a more ancient and secret India hidden deep in its tropical jungles, with one of the greatest building efforts in the human [record]. History has produced thousands of strange and mysterious temples that are today lost and forgotten. This is India’s Deep South, a land of emerald green rice fields and immense palm forests, where every few miles temples soar toward the heavens in the countryside.

Here, over a thousand year ago, 985 AD to be exact, Rajaraja Cholan became King of the Chola Dynasty. His original name was Arunmozhivarman, and his title was Rajakesari Varman or Mummudi-Sola-Deva. He was the second son of the Parantaka Cholan II.

His capital was the city of Thanjavur. Thanjavur was the royal city of the Cholas, Nayaks, and the Mahrattas. Thanjavur derives its name from Tanjan-an asura (giant), who according to local legend devastated the neighbourhood and was killed by Sri Anandavalli Amman and the God Vishnu.

Rajaraja Cholan was one of the greatest kings of India, and in the south he embarked on one of the largest building plans in the history of mankind that still continues till this day. He and his successors moved more stone then the great pyramid of Giza.

The extent of the Temple Grounds is so large that over 200 Taj Mahal’s can fit into it.

You might ask why Rajaraja Cholan built all these temples. Well, it was the same motive that built Europe’s cathedrals and Egypt’s pyramids. He was moved by the power of faith. You have to understand one thing about India: this is a land with almost as many gods as people, and it believes all life to be sacred even a humble ant has its place. Gods are worshiped differently here than in Europe. During festivals, for example, the gods are taken from their shrines and paraded around in the temple grounds, their costumes are changed at the end of the day, and they are put to bed for a few hours rest at night.

Generally, it’s believed that if these and other rituals are performed perfectly, then it’s going to be more beneficial for you, so that’s why rituals are taken very seriously and they are memorized rigorously by priests. These rituals hardly if ever change with the passage of time. For any religion, anywhere in the world, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and so on – to flourish it helps to have friends in high places, like kings or very wealthy benefactors. For Hinduism, with its vast temples and thousands of priests, friends in high places are absolutely essential. Rajaraja was one of the greatest patrons of arts and religion in India’s long history.

And this was his start, the great temple of Bragatheeswarar.

It’s one of the most amazing buildings in India. It’s 10 times taller than anything built before it, and not only is it huge, but it’s made of granite, one of the hardest stones in the world. The inner shrine under the large tower contains a large phallus-shaped stone, called a ‘Ling’, which represents the god Shiva, one of the most powerful and popular gods, and also one of the three gods of the Holy Trinity that began, runs, and ultimately ends this universe, only to start all over again. The phallus-shaped ‘Ling’ which is Shiva is 12 feet in height and 5 feet in diameter. Every day the priests dress Shiva, and wash him with milk. This has been going on since the creation of the temple and it still goes on today in an unbroken chain for the past thousand years.

To build temples like these required huge amounts of money, and the easiest way to get it was by attacking your weaker neighbors. Rajaraja began his career with the conquest of the Chera country. He defeated Chera King Bhaskara Ravivarman, whose fleet he destroyed in the port of Kandalur. He also seized Pandya Amara Bhujanga, and captured the port of Vilinam. By his campaign against the Singhalees, he annexed northern Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka), and built a number of stone temples in the Ceylonese capital Polonnaruva. Most of his triumphs were achieved by the fourteenth year of his reign (AD 998-999). Rajaraja assumed the title “Mummudi Cholan” and moved his capital from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruva. The Chola culture and Shiva religion permeated the whole of Ceylon.

Having thus realized his cherished military glories, in or about 1003 AD Rajarajan sheathed his sword and turned his thoughts toward a life of peace. It was about this time, that the Chidambaram temple authorities bestowed on him the title of “Sri Rajarajan”.

India is a huge country and it has a very diverse climate. Eastern India is a desert, while the western part receives the highest rainfall in the world. Central India is a huge plateau covering four modern states. Warfare in India was a very different affair in each climatic region, with one common element throughout: the war elephants.

In the jungles of South India, Rajaraja had an ample supply of elephants for his war effort. Now, wild elephants might seem the right candidates to become war elephants, but they are actually very docile, only attacking when provoked. Only the biggest, fiercest, and fittest tusked males could be used as war elephants. Ancient elephant trainers, or “mahouts” (still called by this name today), made a stockade and drove elephant herds into a funnel that led them inside. As recently as the 1960s, the same method was used to capture elephants as in Rajaraja’s day, except they were used then for labor instead of war. The ancient mahouts picked the strongest bulls among the herds to be trained for the battlefields. The rest became working elephants, used for heavy lifting and transporting heavy objects for construction projects. The mahouts controlled the war elephants by getting them drunk on fermented rice liquor, called “makar”, before every battle. The elephants could literally slice their way through a battlefield with razor-sharp blades attached to their trunks. From the top of the elephants, spear throwers, generals, or archers could rain down death on the people below. Despite these advantages, elephants are very hard to control. Instinctively, they don’t favor killing people en masse. Only the legendary skill of the mahouts could make them do so. It is interesting to note, just like the Roman legions we know, the names of over 70 regiments in the ancient Indian army that distinguished themselves in battle are known because the names are inscribed in the temples – like the
Ilaiya-Rajaraja-terinda-Valangai-Velaikkarar, Parivarameykappargal (a regiment of Personal Bodyguards), Mummadi- Chola-terinda-Anaippagar (a regiment of the Elephant Corps). The surnames or titles of the king or of his son are usually prefixed before the regiment’s name, possibly as a sign of attachment after a regiment distinguished itself in a battle or other engagement. It would be considerably honorable and prestigious to be in the king’s own regiment.

After Rajaraja secured a good supply of money, he started construction on his Temple of Bragatheeswarar. The quarry that supplied the granite was over 50 miles away from the temple site. Most of the stones were moved with boats, but some much heavier stones, like the 81.3-ton capstone at the summit of the tower, were moved with a combination of ramps and elephants. The remains of the original ramps still exist today after a thousand years, indicating a gentle 6-degree slope pointing toward the top of the temple. The ramp began 1 mile from the temple, and gradually intersected with the top of the tower 216 feet in the air. Stones were moved from the quarry to the ramp, and up the ramp, with elephants pulling the stones over wooden rollers, much the same as the way ancient Egyptians built the pyramids.

You’d think Rajaraja was crazy going to so much trouble to make just a temple, but let me explain. Rajaraja was a very religious man, and he was caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, his religion forbade him to kill, and on the other hand, to be a successful king he had to make war on his neighbors for his people’s sake – otherwise his kingdom would be weak and easily overrun. So he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his enemies. He firmly believed as do all Hindu’s today in rebirth and reincarnation, and that your actions in this life will determine your lot in the next one. Given the blood on Rajaraja’s hands, he might come back as a worm or something even worse. So he spent fabulous amounts of money on his temples. As one example, it’s written in an inscription that it took 4,000 cows, 7,000 goats, and 30 buffalos just to supply the butter required for the lamps that were lit in the temple and temple grounds. And this was just one temple. Rajaraja provided for hundreds of temples that he created just to insure that he kept his karma in good standing. By his generosity, he hoped the gods would overlook his transgressions and be persuaded to reincarnate him as something better than a worm.

Indian religion during Rajaraja’s time also spread across other lands. That’s why in the steaming jungles of Cambodia, the temples of Angkor Wat don’t depict Cambodian gods, but the gods of India. Not only did religion spread, but also art. When Europe was languishing in the Dark Ages, the artists in the Chola Empire were making bronze statues like the famous Nathraja shown below.

This is Shiva, who appears as Nathraja, the Lord of the Dance, simultaneously crushing the dwarf of ignorance under his foot, beating the drum of creation, unleashing the fires of destruction and finally raising one hand in assurance, telling us to fear not. Near Thanjavur, artists still create bronzes as they did in Rajaraja’s time, placing mud from the Kavari River on a hand carved wax statue to create a mold. After that, they pour molten bronze or gold into the mold and let it cool to take the shape of the statue.

Some Examples of Indian Art

When Rajaraja died in 1014, he left behind him a shining legacy that made him one of the greatest patrons of art and religion in India. The Chola Dynasty ended with King Rajendra Chola III, the last Chola king. The last recorded date of Rajendra III is 1279 AD. There is no evidence that Rajendra was followed immediately by another Chola prince. The Chola empire was completely overshadowed by the Pandyan empire, though many small chieftains continued to claim the title “Chola” well into 15th century.

This is a mural showing Rajaraja, drawn during his reign, showing him in red standing behind his guru. If you have seen a picture of the god Shiva, you might find similarities with the hair style of Rajaraja. It must be noted that some archeologists dispute whether this is actually Rajaraja or not.

Watch the video: Kailasa Nathar Temple - SECRET of REBIRTH u0026 ENLIGHTENMENT (July 2022).


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  2. Proteus

    I agree, this is a funny thing.

  3. Aurelius

    The fact you will not return. What is done is done.

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