Kanchipuram

 

I took a couple of hundred photographs yesterday and it’s going to take quite some time to go through them!  Visiting such photogenic places is when a digital camera really comes into its own.

 

DSC00818

 

We arrived in a small marketplace which was rather different from the dusty, ruins we expected.  Our arrival signalled the attention of every seller in town to come and offer all kinds of good things from sandals to jewellery but of course, our eyes were on the main feature

 

DSC00820

 

The Ekambaranathar Temple towered over the square and approaching the entrance, we were able to see the fine details in the 200ft high gopuram.

 

DSC00823 

 

Time to remove shoes and put on thick socks as advised – the sand/stone was hot and walking barefoot uncomfortable.

 

DSC00825

 

Hema, our charming guide began to tell us about this magnificent place and led us through into the Temple, stopping first at a colourful panel illustrating the story of Shiva.

 

DSC00824

 

We followed, listening intently to the wealth of information she had to share whilst trying to absorb the atmosphere and visual feast which surrounded us.

 

DSC00836

 

The temple has a hundred richly carved pillars, featuring craftsmanship of the highest order.  Here in the natural light of the entrance it was fairly easy to take reasonable photos

 

DSC00846 

 

though sadly, much of the interior spaces were lit with fluorescent tubes and these made the process a whole deal more tricky.

 

DSC00865

 

Every corner we turned, every nook and cranny revealed a different delight.

 

DSC00842

 

Here, in a quiet spot, a young couple were gazing into each others eyes, sharing a peaceful moment (until some pesky tourist briefly stumbled in on their privacy)Their presence added a human scale to this amazing place, however.

 

DSC00843

 

Some corners were small shrines with tallow candles burning in front of them.

 

DSC00887

 

In other corners, there were colourful platforms used to carry the holy statues in processions.

 

DSC00858

 

Elsewhere there were monks, sitting quietly by a holy object, inviting us to take their photographs, to come closer and talk to them.  Sadly, there was not enough time to linger, to take everything in and to really absorb this fascinating place.

 

DSC00847

 

Under our feet were paintings on the stone floor, painted using rice paint, Hema told us.  These served a dual purpose in beautifying the temple but also feeding the small creatures who share the place with everyone.

 

DSC00869

 

Here and there, there was a splash of colour, of human interaction with this place.

 

DSC00874

 

In particular, by the ancient mango tree by this small temple where childless couples hang small cradles in the branches in the hope of an offspring.  Unmarried women walk around the temple an odd number of times in the hope of finding a husband, too, making this little courtyard the focus of much attention.

 

DSC00880

 

Moving right along, then, taking a last look at this beautiful structure, we were back out into the heat, running the gauntlet of the gift stalls and the marketplace sellers.

 

  DSC00890

 

DSC00893

 

Hema led the way at a cracking pace, for there was more to see, to do and time was tight.

 

DSC00895

 

The clue to the next stop lay in the fabrics hanging outside one of the stores.  Kanchipuram is renowned for silk weaving and Kanjeevaram Silk Sarees and we were heading for one of the workshops.

Silk

Beyond the city