Placed in Thiruvarur as a fellow of Milaap, I had an experience of the rich cultural history of this place. The place was once the capital of Cholas, the mightiest of the kingdoms of South India.
Thiruvarur boasts of hosting one of the largest temples in India, “The Thyagarajeshwarar temple”. The temple complex is said to have been built by Pallavas at first. Later the Cholas are said to have completed it. The major deity here is Shiva worshipped in linga form and in idol form known as Thyagarajeshwarar. Another important deity is ‘Kamalambigai’ who in order to marry Thyagarajar sat on a penance here.
Premises of The Thiruvarur Thyagarajeshwarar temple and the Kamala tank
There are multiple other deities and more than 1000 linga inside the temple. Visiting each one of them would require a minimum of 2 hours, such is the vastness. Outside is a huge pond known by the name of "Kamala tank".
Nerve center of Carnatic music
The temple and town is a nerve center of Carnatic classical music. The 3 jewels(Triratnas) of Carnatic music also known as 'Carnatic Sangeeta Pitamahas’: Thyagaraja Swamy, Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri worshipped this temple god Thyagarajar and Kamalambigai. Major of the compositions of them is written addressing the deities of this temple. Visiting the temple one feels the vibe of this traditional music, with people standing in front of god and singing the classical compositions of these Pitamahas. The classical influence could also be seen outside the temple premises with lots of music schools surrounding the temple.
Triratnas of Carnatic music
The state of Tamil Nadu is known to some of the oldest civilizations. Multiple kingdoms and rulers have protected the state for long. The kings have known to have constructed such huge temples of their worshipped deities. Talking to the local priest he also gave one important purpose for which the temples were built. The temples acted like a fort for the town people during the times of war. Architecturally the Dravidian temples have multiple complexes, entering via multiple doors like the peeling of onions. The temples complex were built in such a way so as to fit in all the people inside. The outer compound usually is a huge square with a huge heavy gate on all four sides. Entering the first gate there are multiple other gates like a ring of onions. In between these gates, trade and businesses were established to take care of all the major needs of people.
Thiruvarur temple complex
Temples as trade hubs
This is an era of no monarchs. Though temples are not known to be used as a fort, the temple and its surrounding areas are still used as trade centers making them one of the areas with high activities and as a trade hub. A temple becomes a lifeline for lots of local people. The people have small shops like flower shops, food stalls, fancy stores, medicals and many more.
Inside the Srirangam temple complex, used as a trade hub
After coming to Thiruvarur, the experiences here have made certain things clear. Traditions form a major part of Indian culture. These days traditions and beliefs have been blindly followed by most of us. Most of the times there are intricate meanings when a particular tradition is followed. Understanding such purposes gives the very sense of who, what and why. This would help us understand the true sense of us being an Indian.