Saturday, February 23, 2008

Introducing Temple Tales

One of my favorite subjects to photograph is temples and their architecture. The fascination must have begun growing up in the temple town of Madurai, where we had an unobstructed view of the majestic gopurams of the Meenakshi Amman Kovil from our terrace. I have always been in awe of the grandeur and splendor of the ancient temples of India and that drives my passion for photographing them. Over the years I have come to appreciate the architecture of not only the large and grand temples, but also the intricacies of the smaller ones. Another dimension to the fascination is the local tales and mythology that is woven around the temples making it all the more interesting.

I'm starting up a series on "Temple Tales" with a temple that really doesn't have much in terms of architecture or mythology. Yet it is special to me as it is here in Houston, and presiding deity being Goddess Meenakshi, it takes me home every time I visit. The temple was conceived way back in the late 1970's to serve the growing Indian population of Houston. The Ganesh temple was first inaugurated in August '79. The main Meenakshi Temple was designed based on the Meenakshi Amman kovil at Madurai and the Mahakumbabhishekam was performed in June 1982. Of course, being built in another country and another era, there is no way it could compare with the original temple, but a lot of care and dedicated work was taken to keep proper temple architecture concepts in its construction. In the main temple are three deities, Lord Sundereshwar (Shiva), Goddess Meenakshi (Parvati) and Lord Balaji (Vishnu).

Lord Sundareshwar

Goddess Meenakshi


Since its inceptions, over the years a lot of additions and improvements have helped the temple grow and serve the ever increasing Hindu population of Houston. In the early 2000s, a new Kalyana Mandapam and youth center were built featuring classes for kids and adults, a library and a canteen. In 2006, more improvements were made to the temple and the walls were decorated with typical temple motifs. Here are more pictures from during and after those improvements.

Temple motif created using a mold

Temple motifs erected on the walls

The improvements taking place...

... and on completion

The main Gopuram

Puja for Lord Muruga during Sashti


Javits said...

hey nice pictures.

kfkgreen said...

I enjoyed your temple photos.

Rajan said...

Thanks, Javits and kfkgreen