Kick-starting my series on lesser know heritage sites in India with this temple located in the Southernmost district of mainland India.
The Adikesava Perumal temple is located at Thiruvattar in Tamil Nadu, about halfway between Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Kanyakumari town in Tamil Nadu. I had the good fortune of visiting this place a couple of years ago while on a visit to Thiruvananthapuram.
I had never heard of the temple before my visit. It is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The idol of Lord Vishnu is depicted as reclining on his snake couch and has to be viewed through three separate doors. I could not find any specific date of establishment of the temple, but it has been mentioned in texts dating to the 8th – 9th centuries. So the temple must be at least 1200 years old.
The architecture of the temple is an interesting mix of Keralan and Tamilian temple styles, to my untrained eye. The entrance and roof is unmistakably Keralan, while the long columned corridors are typically seen in the temples of Tamil Nadu. The temple was quite and peaceful when we visited. There were repair works being undertaken as parts of the temple needed restoration. It was interesting to watch ‘traditional’ building materials being prepared to ensure structural integrity.
I sadly do not have any photos of this temple. But as a lesser known, but ancient, part of our heritage, this temple is worth a visit.
I read an article today in the Hindustan Times about family-run museums. It was an interesting article. I personally find it a bit sad that we in India do not have much of a museum visiting and appreciating culture. Many people, I believe, just do not think of museums are not seen as a must-visit place. It could partly be because our memories of museums, from the time when we used to visit museums as part of school trips, are of dusty places with old artifacts gathering dust.
But the reality is different. Yes, I am sure there still exist some museums where it feels like time has stood still. A good example of this is the Jaganmohan Palace Art Gallery in Mysore. With its priceless paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and others, it would have been a must visit destination in many Western cities. But here, while it had a good crowd of visitors, the exhibits themselves looked in urgent need of some tender care. It would be a shame if these works of art are lost to future audiences due to apathy.
On the other hand, there are many good museums dotted around the country such as the HAL Museum in Bangalore, the Archaeology museum in Hampi, the Naval Heritage Museum and Seashell museum in Mahabalipuram, which are as good, if not better, than many museums that I have been fortunate to visit across the globe. These have interesting exhibits displayed in a clean space with ample facilities. But unfortunately, other than the first one which had a decent crowd the day I visited, in the others, we were pretty much the only people there.
I believe museums have a very vital role to play in the preservation and dissemination of the culture of a place, especially when that culture is in serious threat of vanishing under the ever expanding tentacles cast by the homogenisation of culture due to globalisation. Museums are a place where we can still feel connected to our roots. It is hard to not feel a sense of pride when we observe the Indian exhibits at the British Museum in London, placed alongside similar exhibits from culture around the world.
So a humble request. The next time you visit a place, in India or anywhere in the world, please do take some time off to visit a local museum. If you have kids or youngsters under your care, please take them too and let them soak in the experience and help them understand the significance of the exhibits. Let’s take some small steps to help preserve the memories of our rich culture and heritage.