Restored temple

Many of the beautiful ancient temples of India have taken to forbidding photography inside. This recent development means that the historic sculptures and beautiful architecture cannot be captured on film any longer. The Kothandaramaswamy temple in Dhanushkodi is more nuanced. It forbids photography of the main idol of Rama with his bow (kothanda), but otherwise photography is allowed. I wasn’t prepared for this, so I couldn’t take photos of the idol of Vibhishana. This idol was special, because the temple is said to commemorate Vibhishana leaving his brother Ravana to join Rama’s army.

One can see from the idols inside that the temple is post-medieval. The intricate sculptures that one sees in the Ramanathaswamy temple and its contemporaries are also missing. It is a few kilometers away from the drowned town of Dhanushkodi, and was spared destruction in the hurricane of 1964. However, it must have needed repairs, because a large stone tablet at the entrance says that it was restored between 1976 and 1978 by Mugneeram Ramkumar Bangur of Calcutta. The structure, with its flat roof, is clearly 20th century modern. A nod to traditional temple architecture is the well-decorated dome at the center of the roof.

I’m very fond of the modern clay images which decorate temples in south India. This one had particularly interesting examples. I specially liked the figure you see in the featured photo, one of four facing the cardinal directions. It incorporates many different artistic influences. Like many minor but important temples, this was surrounded by trees. The champa was in bloom, and its fragrance overlay the briny smell of the sea. It added a nice note to this calm temple.