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Temple Towns of Tamil Nadu

George Michell (Editor)
Synopsis This issue of Marg attempts to bridge the gap between art history and religious history by placing some of the greatest monuments of Tamil Nadu within an appropriate religious and ritualistic context. The interaction of sacred and urban space is the underlying theme of the volume, and this is explored at a select number of key sites throughout the state. The temples chosen are those at Kanchipuram, Tiruvannamalai, Chidambaram, Srirangam, Madurai, and Mylapore (Madras). Each chapter aims at not merely giving the history of the monument and the layout of its architecture, but also describing the way in which the monument is a constant presence in the lives of the local populace. The writers represent a wide spectrum of approaches and several demonstrate a concern to understand the workings of the temple within a particular mythological framework: Dennis Hudson describes the myth of Kamakshi worshipping the earth-linga beneath the mango-tree as central to the main trio of shrines at Kanchipuram; David Smith emphasizes the legend of the dance of Shiva as crucial to any understanding of the Chidambram sanctuary; C.J. Fuller reveals that the marriage of Minakshi to Sundareshvara, together with Vishnu’s co-operation, underlines all aspects of the ceremonies at Madurai. Other contributors stress the impact of the natural setting of the temple: Francoise L’Hernault demonstrates the relationship of the Arunachaleshvara temple at Tiruvannamalai to the rocky hill that overshadows it, and which in itself is an object of worship; Paul Younger shows how Srirangam Island in the Kaveri shares much of its sanctity with the Ranganatha shrine which is located there. Nor is the relationship between the religious and commercial life of temple towns neglected: Joanne Punzo Waghorne points out the affinity between the Kapalishvara shrine at Mylapore and the markets and shops which crowd around its outer walls.
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About the author

George Michell

George Michell obtained his PhD in the field of early western Chalukya temple architecture from the School of Oriental African Studies, University of London, in 1974. From 1974 to 1977, he directed courses on Asian architecture at the Architectural Association, London, and was the co-editor of Art and Archaeology Research Papers from 1972 to 1982. Since the 1980s, he has co-directed an international team of scholars and students at Vijayanagara, the medieval Hindu site in Karnataka. George Michell has also lectured at universities and museums throughout the USA, Europe, India and Australia. Among his many Publications are The Royal Palaces of India, Islamic Heritage of the Deccan, Architecture of the Islamic World: Its History and Social Meaning and Hindu Art and Architecture.

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Bibliographic information

Title Temple Towns of Tamil Nadu
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2003
Edition Reprint
Publisher Marg Publications
Language: English
isbn 8185026211
length viii+128p., Maps; Plates; 33cm.