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:
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.
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.
Fortunate little boy to grow in such surroundings.
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.
The temple was renovated some years ago – in pink.
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.
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.
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:
Now for the first Adianamalai speciality, I do hope you can join me in gasping at the unexpected beauty:
Zoom in. The beauty only increases with size. Let me add some orientational clues:
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:
Also this innocent frieze about the small temple:
The beautiful Adianamalai Thirthum was in good condition, no conspicuous plastic bags this time:
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.
Right behind me waiting for attention is the second speciality of this homey village, look:
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:
And over the road guess what’s going on . . . . . .
. . . . 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:
So many ladies!
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:
It seems the last three images furnish motivation to make a future post devoted to the extraordinary Tamil Male Ego.
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.
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:
With these two lovely faces we conclude the village-cum-rural aspect of Simply Urbane. Now for the town: Tiru – The Town of Tizz:
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.
As usual here, a feminine grace is pervasive . . .
The older houses are built for the climate even though less spacious, they are cooler than the lavish modern styles..
Life is not easy for anyone here . .
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.
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 . . .
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.
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:
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.
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 . . .