10: THE TEMPLE CITIES OF SOUTH INDIA
The south Indian temple cities such as Srirangam, Madurai etc, reveal the
fact that the South-Indian concepts and norms of Vaasthu Purusha Mandala
are ideologically a little different from that of the Vaasthu Purusha Mandala
enunciated in the North Indian Architectural books. The centre space
where the main temple would be situated belongs to the formless brahma
who has no beginning nor end. In this region the prime temple would
be built. And, there would be fortifying walls built round it.
The place adjacent to this belong to the rest of the gods. And the
place even beyond that belong to the human-beings. The last
portion belong to the evil-spirits and 'poothas'.
1. Brahma's reign
2. The region of the other
3. The region assigned to
4. The region of the 'Poothas'.
If the North-Indian Vaasthu Purusha
Mandala enunciates about creation, the South-Indian Vaasthu Purusha Mandala
reveals the order and regularity that prevail in the 'Created' universe.
This can be realized from the order and organization seen in the temple
cities mentioned above The temple-city Madurai is a beautiful city with
temple-towers. It is aptly called 'Naan Maadak Koodal (The Communion
of four towers). A renowned temple city it has in its
fold temples such as the famous Madurai Meenakshiamman temple and Sundareswarar
temple that have towers and fortifying walls and comprising of the 'thousand-foot'
Mandap, the pond belonging to the temple and fortifying walls surrounding
all these and entrance on all the four-sides of the walls and so built.
Nallur was not
just a temple city as like the city
of Madurai. It was also the capital city-Rajdhani. That's why
Nallur had qualities of a temple city as well as of a Rajdhani.
Here, it should be stated that there
is a reason for my calling Madurai
as a temple-city. In Madurai
city the region where the temples are
situated is in itself constructed
in the manner of a city only. It is that
region or place that is referred
to as the temple city of Madura.
Kanagasurya Singaiariyan who was
defeated by Sabumala Kumaraya had spent his last days in Tamil Nadu with
his sons Pararasasekaran and Segarasasekaran.
During that period the impact that
the temple cities like Madurai had on
prince Pararasasekaran might have
been the reason why when he expanded
Nallur Rajdhani he made it into
a temple city.
VARIETIES OF ANCIENT INDIAN CITIES.
Thus, adhering to the rules of Vaasthu
Purusha Mandala, cities of
numerous varieties had been built.
Thanthaga, Sarvadhopatra, Nandhiavartha,
Padmaga, Swaasthika, Prasthira,
Kaamukaanda, Sadhurmuga ……. So they were called in various names. Of these,
some varieties were best suited for small
cities or villages. We can
cite as example, the variety called 'Thanthaga'.
Such small cities or villages had
two main gateways. Those cities of the
'Nandhyavartha' variety had temple
as their axis or central point. Of those
varieties wherein there were two
main roadways running North-South and
east -west which met in the centre
and which had fortifying walls too,
swasthika was the very significant
one. This was the most popular of all
Apart from these there were some
more other varieties also. Cities of
these varieties remained as each
belonging to a particular caste only. For
instance, we can name 'Kheta'.
In this type of city the 'suththiras' alone
were allowed to live. As they
were in the lowest strata of the caste-based
social system of Hindus they were
considered as half-men, or, imperfect
human, so to say. Hence, the
cities which were constructed exclusively for
the class of people were also
built in an imperfect manner. The structure
of such cities was such that there
were no important or central place and
that the lay-out of these cities
was such that lent less importance to the
city as well as to its structure.
The lay-out of these cities bringsforth
the sad state of being, of the soodras
who lived in the insignificant layer
of the social strata.
The role that religion, caste and
such other factors, played in the
architectural style and pattern
of the city layout of the Hindus is being
revealed and highlighted even today
by the informations that the books on
ancient hindus' architecture offer