Magnificent Houses and Fruit Festooned Bulls

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Chttiinard House

In the interest of getting up to date with my blog posts, I was going to skip the events of Saturday, January 16, but I realize that I cannot.  However, I may conflate a couple of days in the interest of not boring you, my three loyal followers, too unmercifully.

The Karaikudi area is known for its Chettinard architecture, particularly the incredible homes that the very wealthy Chettiyar traders built before they became just too darned rich to stay in these small (relatively speaking) country towns and up and moved to the big cities.  The houses were built during the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.  They are sprawling buildings, with open courtyards and they are decorated with spectacularly carved teak doors and pillars and ceilings.  They have concrete tiles that are unbelievably beautiful and many of them are slowly crumbling away.  We visited several in Kanadukathan (I think).

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Chettinard interior

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Chettinard interior with caretaker

Another thing we did today was to visit the Big Temple in Thanjavur.  I capitalize Big Temple because it’s proper name means “big temple” and I sure as heck don’t remember the proper name and you probably don’t really care that much.

One of the highlights was the huge Nandi (the bull on which Shiva rides) figure that was completely covered with garlands of fruit and vegetable.  The 16th was the day of Pongal that celebrates the cows. Masses of people were visiting the temple and were wending their way around the Nandi.

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Beef and veg

Another thing of interest about the temple is that the top piece of the main tower is a huge granite stone (well, possibly several pieces) weighing forty tons (or maybe eighty).  To get it to the top of the tower, a ramp was constructed from bamboo scaffolding.  The ramp was seven kilometers long and had to be strong enough to support the weight of not only the stones but also the logs on which it was rolled and the elephants that pulled it up and, I feel certain, the hundreds or thousands of men who also were involved in its transfer.  The engineering boggles the mind.

It was a long day but another wonderful one.

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