Friday, June 01, 2012

Gopuram to an Emblem

A few years back, i was traveling from Madurai to Thenkasi. I had caught the early morning flight from Chennai, and hence was enjoying the bright morning drive with my window down. Long drive meant chit chat with the driver. I was also enjoying my first few glimpses of this part of Tamil Nadu.

Srivilliputhur is enroute. The gopuram of this Andal temple was towering above the many small hamlets and buildings surrounding it. It is one of the tallest (second tallest) temple towers in Tamil Nadu. The town is also apparently famous for its paal-kova.

I was straining my neck out of the window to soak in the entire height of the gopuram, when the driver asked if i wanted to stop and visit the temple. I would have loved to, but i passed, for want of time. To be fair and consistent, i also denied his offer to stop and pick up some of the famous paal-kova. Although that was a little bit more difficult choice to make.

It was then that the driver announced, "the gopuram from this temple figures prominently in the Emblem of Tamil Nadu". I was racking my brains to recollect the emblem. I did a double take from the window of the car, trying to comprehend what the driver had said. I must have seen the emblem a million times, specially on the side of PTC buses and also elsewhere, but never really noticed the gopuram in the emblem.

While i quickly forgot the place and location soon, i never forgot this connection. It took me until now, to lookup and locate the name of the town, temple and gopuram again. Unfortunately the government sites do not carry a lot of information about the emblem and its creation. There are references to the emblem in the temple town's website. But that's just a one liner. Most other references are far and few, and difficult to authenticate.

The only real good thing that my search threw up, was on the creator of the emblem. Artist, R. Krishna Rao, asserts to have designed the emblem for the State of Tamil Nadu in 1949. The emblem and its design was in the news recently, because of its overtly religious symbol.