Friday, January 28, 2011

Arunachaleshwara Temple

This is apparently the largest temple in India, all 24 acres of it. It’s clearly a very big deal but I was not impressed. It’s a dirty sort of a place with awful wires and big ugly sets of lights everywhere. As per usual they charge various amounts of money to get into the different little temples within the temple grounds (2 rupees for Indians, 20 rupees for foreigners) and if they don’t have obnoxiously loud recorded music playing all the time, they have someone chanting or singing, so loud it hurts your ears. But then I am convinced that Indians are half deaf due to the constant noise around them, the incessant beeping and tooting of car, truck and bus horns is deafening. The temple is the equivalent of an old Christian cathedral but dirty and in relatively poor repair (but then very good repair compared to so many other temples and buildings around the town) You can’t climb the very best bits like the huge Gopurams (the huge towers) and you can’t go into the gardens. So that was my experience of the place and I was there later in the day when it was quiet, I cannot imagine what it would be like with the huge crowd they must get at times.
The best bit of all for me was the temple elephant. As you can see from the photos the elephant will bless you….if you pay him a coin that is !
So he reaches out his trunk and very gently takes a coin from you then gives you a sloppy blessing on the head. Kind of cool but I also had some sadness for this most beautiful animal being exploited in this way. I guess he has a pretty good life for the most part but he had tears coming out of his eyes, made him look sad.

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