Simply Urbane

The lingam in the temple in Adianamalai village predates the one in the famous big temple in Tiruvannamalai town by many centuries, I believe; the rural area surrounding the village lends grace and style to the beautiful old settlement that was once appropriately described as The Daggiest Place in the Universe.

Today after swanning serenely through the great old doors I found this most ancient and beautiful of temples has now become a storehouse for crowd-control barriers: I was forced to ask for directions in order to negotiate the circumnavigation of the inner sanctum. But I didn’t take photos inside the temple, that would be disrespectful.

Let’s begin at the beginning of the village:

This Illipai tree has marked my entrance to the village on the hill-round-route for forty years, growing more beautiful by the minute.

This Illipai tree has marked my entrance to the village on the hill-round-route for forty years, growing more beautiful by the minute.

 

Now just another Bollywood God, this SivaShakthi seemed a modern abberation when it appeared - one of the first such recent blatant traps in the holy-commercial-web, but now it has aged, softened, become sufficiently tattered to be pleasantly familiar . . . Time is such an embellisher!

Now just another Bollywood God, this SivaShakthi seemed a modern abberation when it appeared – one of the first such recent blatant traps in the holy-commercial-web, but now it has aged, softened, become sufficiently tattered to be pleasantly familiar . . . Time is such an embellisher!

image

An ambience of stylish austerity always graced this house but the lovely tall coconut tree has gone now, taking much of the immediate charm if this residence with it.

image

The priceless shade surrounding this school will be replicated, evidently, around the new High School to be built on the other side of the village, although the growth of such cooling capacity will absorb forty years of precious time.

image

Fortunate little boy to grow in such surroundings.

image

Fortunate dog.

image

image

Such a big fat rock in such a distinguished position has always impressed me.

The Annamalai Reforestation Society held our most successful puppet theatre here many years ago, hosted honourably by The Forest Department who forgot to bring the audio equipment, which didn’t seem to matter as much as expected.

Now let’s go into the Temple in honour of the goddess.

image

The temple was renovated some years ago – in pink.

image

image

image

You should know that the grimey smudges about the temple entrance are cause by ghee on the hands of priests. Ghee is clarified butter: used in lamps.

image

image

Looking down into this well reminds me always of the myth that the ancients built a tunnel from the inner sanctum in the Sri Arunachalaeswara temple in Tiruvannamalai town under or through the hill and up into the inner sanctum of this Adianamalai Temple, and that when Ramana was a young man he insisted on blocking the entrances at both ends because he considered KaliYuga sufficiently established for such tunnels to invite malpractices of some kind in this age of ignorance. So he expected us to be generally up to no good already, in other words!

However to be just I should mention another widely endorsed myth that claims the mountain to be made of solid granite extending down two hundred kilometres. Imaginations flows freely in WooWooWorld.

image

image

Here you see the great teacher, DakshinaMurthi – the Lord who faces South, with some Rishis.   I’m not sure why some of them are blue-colour.  Dakshina is an aspect of the formidable Lord Siva but then there’s no essential difference between Siva and Lord Vishnu  . . . . whose incarnations are sometimes painted blue. Unlike locals, my mind is not graced with encyclopaedic iconography.

In this image I am looking back towards the well.

In this image I am looking back towards the well with the Shakthi of the hill gracefully spread behind.  Children adore running in this spacious place.

Like all little pilgrims this baby boy is having a whale of a time.

Like all little pilgrims this baby boy is having a whale of a time.

image
image

Now I’m wishing I had photographed the maize of crowd-control barriers engulfing the entire front part of the inner shrine because in retrospect it seems funny – one of those huge cultural gaps between our respective cultural expectations. We westerners would think: Man, couldn’t they have put them somewhere else! But then, nice they didn’t stack them all around the beautiful open spaces of the collanades.

So, without that funny foto, let’s meander around the village a bit more – there are a couple of specialities I’m hoping to have remained intact . . . let’s see:

Here's the last lap of the detour from the pradakshina road to take in the temple.

Here’s the last lap of the detour from the pradakshina road to take in the temple and return to the official hill-round-route.

Now for the first Adianamalai speciality, I do hope you can join me in gasping at the unexpected beauty:

I'm so glad it's still standing . . . This is conservation by neglect, as with the Sonagiri Forest, only the neglect here is gradually enhanced year by year with just sufficient fresh garbage.

I’m so glad it’s still standing . . . This is conservation by neglect, as with the Sonagiri Forest, only the neglect here is gradually enhanced year by year with just sufficient fresh garbage.

Zoom in. The beauty only increases with size. Let me add some orientational clues:

image

This image could inspire a story-teller’s imagination – a fairy tale perhaps. Further up the road is a sweet little junction that always seems very friendly to me:

image

Also this innocent frieze about the small temple:
image

image

The beautiful Adianamalai Thirthum was in good condition, no conspicuous plastic bags this time:
image

Those bundles hanging from branches are the placentas of new-born calves, wrapped in cloth and strung up away from the reach of carrion; the belief is that violation of the placenta will inflirt harm on the baby calf.
image

And this sweet little house remains as inviting as ever. Oh you might say, that's just because of the greenery! Well, I'd respond: Yes.

And this sweet little house remains as inviting as ever. Oh you might say, that’s just because of the greenery! Well, I’d respond: Yes.

Right behind me waiting for attention is the second speciality of this homey village, look:

image

It seems to be sinking, it recedes further into the earth each year; I suspect that as with most of us, it grows heavier with time, I’ve kept an eye on it for forty years and it’s definitely sinking. Maybe Pachamamma adds to its weight day by day with moss in the monsoon and creepers other times of year. There’s a small Thirthum behind it so in future in a good monsoon it might become an underwater paradise for the imagination, fish and frogs . . . A ruin of mystery.

Always this little temple is fresh, cool and shady. It’s naturally a convivial place, neat and clean, sweet-smelling:

image

And over the road guess what’s going on . . . . . .
image
. . . .  nothing less than garbage collection!  Wow!

By now hot and tired, I took an auto-rickshaw back to Nerudi Lingam, stopping on the way to catch a lovely sight:

image

image

image

So many ladies!

These two women gave me the explanation for so many ladies all just sitting together in the shade.

These two women gave me the explanation for so many ladies all just sitting together in the shade.

They were workers from the quarry – the exposed, mercilessly hot quarry nearby; it was lunch break and they’d walked here to sit in some shade. Good idea!

Later on, walking home from Nerudi there were a few snaps:
image

image

I didn't photograph this sadhu when I passed early this morning but he was sitting exactly where he now is, reading aloud from the same little book.

I didn’t photograph this sadhu when I passed early this morning but then he was sitting exactly where he now sits reading aloud from the same little book.  You see: some of these sadhus definitely are genuine, despite all odds.

image

It seems the last three images furnish motivation to make a future post devoted to the extraordinary Tamil Male Ego.

image

image

There are no less than nine Enfields here . . .  recently I asked one of the daughters about them and she told me her father likes them.

image

This image is repeated because I only now notice the goddess . . .  she gives meaning to the Lions faces along with the boys/young men: her vehicle is a Big Cat, you see.  The young men might be hoping the goddess will help them in some professional way.  Maybe.

Oh Ooops, I forgot two important images:

image
image

With these two lovely faces we conclude the village-cum-rural aspect of Simply Urbane.  Now for the town: Tiru – The Town of Tizz:

image

Tiruvannamalai town rests on the east side of the hill, encroachment now expands up onto the foothills and the streets of the older parts of town all slope up towards the embodiment of Lord Siva. Although the artery roads are unspeakably chaotic, the residential areas tend to be very gentile. I find an endearing softness about much of our urban surroundings here, discounting entirely the foul drainage and sordid rubbish, so inextricably mixed. And the pain that intermingles so forlornly with the joy of life.

image

As usual here, a feminine grace is pervasive . . .

To my eye the older dwellings that are care-worn like the faces of old people are softer, sweeter, more interesting.

To my eye the older dwellings that are care-worn like the faces of old people are softer, sweeter, more interesting.

image

The older houses are built for the climate even though less spacious, they are cooler than the lavish modern styles..

image

Life is not easy for anyone here . .

image

Times are lean now but years ago this sweet, narrow little house was a cool wind tunnel, with a leafy garden out the back flanked by the rocks of Coral Hill, shaded by the mountain all afternoon.

image

I think this cow must live here – she could only have taken her place in this cool spot from inside the house . . . The space is far too narrow for her to have turned her big body around after entering from the street.

image

In this tremendously hot dry climate shade and water are the most valuable possessions . . .

image

This style of house usually has a courtyard heaven pool surrounded by wooden posts like these on the porch; the courtyard contains the well and is well-drained for all washing purposes.

image

The well stood in the centre of the community. Now the central well has been converted into a bore-well with pipes delivering water to separate houses.

The well stood in the centre of the community. Now this central well has been converted into a bore-well with pipes delivering water to separate houses.

How could we have anticated that the cohesion of human community life would be shattered by the transformation of the well in modern times? We could not. It all happened in front of our noses. Now we know how valuable these gifts are. Allow me to usher in the entrance of pain here, now that you are perhaps receptive to the commonality of our shared life . . .

This pain is too much. An ignorant oaf bullock-cart driver was laughing at me while I took this photo. Whereas cows can be trusted to wander around town all day and return reliably home in the evening, bullocks are shackled like slaves with no consideration for their comfort, because that is precisely what they are, Nandi or no Nandi. This rather taints the aura around India's respect for cows doesn't it: this strange inversion of the human idolisation of sons coupled with disparagement of daughters.

This pain is too much. An ignorant oaf bullock-cart driver was laughing at me while I took this photo.
Whereas cows can be trusted to wander around the town all day and reliably return home in the evening, bullocks are shackled like slaves with no consideration given to their comfort, because that is precisely what they are, Nandi or no Nandi.  This rather taints the aura around India’s respect for cows doesn’t it: this strange inversion of the human idolisation of sons coupled with disparagement of daughters!

image
image

This magnificent tree shades four of five houses nestled in a maize of quaint back streets. The women I spoke to who live here all highly value the cooling leafy canopy of the Pepal tree. Fortunate they are indeed and they know it!

This magnificent tree shades four of five houses nestled in a maize of quaint back streets. The women who live here all highly value the cooling leafy canopy of the Pepal tree. Fortunate they are indeed and they know it!

These women are chatting on the steps of a small temple, one of many scattered throughout the urban area along with what we call ‘convenience stores’ and other merchant go-downs.

image

image

image

image

image

We also have mobile ironing carts but here you see a permanent ironing shop to which women bring their big bundles of clean washing for the ironing professional to deal with.

We also have mobile ironing carts but here you see a permanent ironing shop to which women bring their big bundles of clean washing for the ironing professional to deal with.

Here are mobile ice-cream shops.

Here are mobile ice-cream shops.

As you may realise India is very people-friendly. This gentleman asked me to photograph him before calling his wife and showing her where to sit:

image

I think this woman has just come from the rice go-down.

I think this woman has just come from the rice go-down.

image

You should know that these images were taken while walking from the Ramana Residency opposite Kids-World up to the Western entrance of the big temple.

image

image

From these very sweetly renovated and embellished old town houses I now move on to show you images of the beautiful homes in the village of Adianamalai taken yesterday, on other side  of the hill. So I will begin at the beginning . . .

Leave a comment

September 9, 2015 · 8:03 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s