In my last post, we looked at the temple from outside. Now let us step inside a typical south Indian temple. Most ancient temples are held aloft my huge stone pillars which are intricately carved
Nellaiappan Temple, Thirunelveli, South Tamil Nadu, India
Here is a close-up view of a pillar
Sometimes huge stone sculptures of mythological creature and characters are mounted on these pillars. This is a famous mythological creature called Yali, very much like the Chinese dragon. You will find them in most south Indian temples. They are supposed to protect the temple from evil spirits.
Here is a warrior
Notice the detailing in the sculpture. Look at the intricately carved hair dress and elaborate jewels. You can actually see his nails too. He is stamping enemy with one foot and seems to be celebrating his victory. There is so much movement in this static figure. The entire sculpture is carved from a single piece of rock using hand instruments. Just behind him is another pillar with a carved yali and an elephant.
This is lord Rama. Besides him is his faithful devotee, the monkey god Hanuman
Here is manmatha (cupid) the god of love, with his characteristics short stature and sugarcane bow.
This is his wife Rathi
Tribal Couple. Doesn’t their feather hair dress resemble the Red Indians
Here is a divine Nymph (Apsara). As per Hindu mythology, Apsara are courtesans in the kingdom of heaven. They are supposed to be beautiful, ageless and proficient in art and dance.
These temples are sacred places of worship for the Hindus. The deities here are believed to possess power to bestow boons. Most people visit these temples do not stop to observe the beauty within. They enter the temple with the single purpose of reaching the sanctum, offering a prayer and rushing out. These temples were meticulously crafted by thousands of artisans over hundreds of years by generations of rulers and still stand as a testament to their aesthetics, values and culture. When I watch the throng of devotees trying to push their way to the sanctum, I wonder why they don’t stop to take notice.