Tamilnadu is also called the land of temples.It is a home to around 33,000 ancient temples.In the past a king was considered to be divine by nature and possessed religious significance. The king was ‘the representative of God on earth’ and lived in a “koyil”, which means the “residence of God”. The Modern Tamil word for temple is koil.
A temple is the representation of Hindu Cosmos and a dwelling place of Deity so is considered the place to receive darshan: a glimpse of God.
In our art history classes, we were studying about the temple architecture of Tamilnadu.We studied the rock-cut monolith temples of Mamallapuram and the first structural temple (shore temple) there.
Secondly, we studied the structure and composition of temples of Dravidian style.
Traditional Dravidian architecture and symbolism are based on Agamas. The Agamas are non-Vedic in origin and have been dated either as post-Vedic texts or as pre-Vedic compositions. The Agamas are a collection of Tamil and Sanskrit scriptures chiefly constituting the methods of temple construction and creation of murti, worship means of deities, philosophical doctrines, meditative practices, attainment of sixfold desires and four kinds of yoga.
Composition and structure
- The porches or Mantapas, which always cover and precede the door leading to the cell.
- Gate-pyramids, Gopuras, which are the principal features in the quadrangular enclosures that surround the more notable temples.Gopuras are very common in dravidian temples.
- Pillared halls (Chaultris or Chawadis) are used for many purposes and are the invariable accompaniments of these temples.
Besides these, a South Indian temple usually has a tank called the Kalyani or Pushkarni – to be used for sacred purposes or the convenience of the priests – dwellings for all the grades of the priesthood are attached to it, and other buildings for state or convenience
After studying the arcitecture we studied two temples built by Cholas -Brihadeshvara Temple of Thanjavur and Chidambaram Nataraja temple or Thillai Nataraja temple.The most exciting part was we were going to visit them.