Famous Hindu temple chariots of India - 02

 The temple chariot, a physical representation of cosmos, carries divinity, hence it is a moving temple that is sanctified for the purpose of carrying the representative of  temple gods (utchavars) on it. The wooden base of the chariot is intricately carved with various images of deities in the Hindu pantheon as if the main gods are being accompanied by the sub gods and celestial on the holy journey.  The pyramidal top represents vertical limitless dimension and carries a colorful canopy and  needed decorations festoons, flowers, etc. Temples follow their distinctive decorations on the canopy.  The wooden base, an inverted  semi cone,  represents the living space. The assumption has been that the ratha, symbolic of cosmos, follows the path of righteousness, overcomes hurdles, instills positivity and eliminates negative forces. The moving wheels symbolize the transient nature of the life and the universe. 

Srirangam temple:

Chithirai temple car festival, Srirangam, TN. dailythanthi.com

Srirangam temple car  srirangaminfo.com

Sirangam temple car wooden base.nativeplanet.com

Srirangam temple chariot wooden base. Pinteret.com

After a 2 year break due to covid-19 Srirangam car festival was held on a grand scale  in  Chithrai  - April 2022 with tight security and precaution in  the aftermath of an unfortunate temple car accident at Thanjavur in which many people were electrocuted. The authorities not only stopped the power supply but also removed the electric wires and cables circrossing the street. Besides, devotees are not allowed to go near the huge wheels.  The 10-day Chithirai festival of Sri  Ranganatha Swamy began on April 21 with customary flag hoisting.  The idol of Namperumal was brought to the Thayyar sannidhi  early in the morning and later mounted on the  decorated Chariot. The yatra that began at 6.30 am from East Chitrai street, went  through the Chithirai streets, before back to the temple.  

 According to historians the Chithirai festival first began in 1383, it means the festival and the therottam have been around for centuries. At that point of time, only the image of serpent  Adisheshan was in the temple in the wake of a massive raid by the Delhi  Sultanate army. The invaders laid their arm on everything in the temple and looted   vimanam, gopuram, kalasam, etc.  Gajana (treasury /coffer) being empty, the ruler asked the people to make donations to the temple to keep it going. There was no money for the nithya Puja. There was no festival in the temple until 1383 CE. The villagers contributed whatever they raised in their lands -   rice, jackfruit, bananas and whatever grew in their farms. this year about 1000 police were on duty. 


Mahalingeswar temple, Thiruvidaimaruthur:

Mahalingeswarar temple, Thruvidaimaruthur, TN  en.wikipedia.org

Mahalingeswarar temple, Thruvidaimaruthur, TN en.wikipedia.org

Mahalingeswaraswamy Temple of  Thiruvidaimarudur (now in Kumbakonam district) dedicated to God  Shiva,  is an old temple -dated back to the 7th century. One of the temples glorified by the nayanmars - Tamil Shiva saints;  saint poet Manikkavacakar (9th century) sang in  praise of this place in his works. The idol in this temple is in the form of  a  lingam,  commonly referred to as Jyothirmaya lingam. Here, the lord's  consort is  Mookambika.  Built by various dynasties  Pandyas, Cholas, Thanjavur Nayaks and Thanjavur Marathas,  the oldest masonry structure being that of Chola - 9th CE, The Nayaks built the gates and towers.(16th CE).   The temple is maintained and administered by Thiruvaduthurai Adheenam, a South Indian monastic institution and there are amazing sculptures in the temple.  details are not available about the chariot festival. However, it is held once a year during brahotchavam. 


Kumbeswarar temple Kumbakonam:

Kumbeswarar temple, Kumbakonamadhikumbeswarar.org

Kumbeswarar temple, Kumbakonam. upload.wikimedia.org

Adi Kumbeswarar Temple of  Kumbakonam located in the prime place of the city is a popular one closely associated with the Mahamaham temple tank here.  The temple is foremost in the Mahamaham festivities.  In the form of a lingam, Shiva is referred to as Adi Kumbeswarar; his consort  is Mangalambigai Amman.   The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the Nayanmars and Classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam the temple is dated back to the 7th century.  Covering  an area of 30,181 sq ft (2,803.9 m2) and houses four gateway towers, the temple has many  pillared halls built by the Vijayanagara rulers.   

The temple has five  chariots of  various sizes and the car festival takes place  as part of annual  Maasimaham celebrations (February - March).   Besides main deities, gods Subramaniam, Ganapathy and Sandikeswarar will be taken on the chariot  as part of the religious procession.



Lalgudi  Saptharishieeswara temple:


Lalgudi Shiva temple car. prabhuclicks.wordpress.com

Lalgudi shivan temple car. prabhuclicks.wordpress.com

Lalgudi, an important pilgrimage center,  has a popular Shiva temple  - Saptharishieeswara, believed to have been built by the Chola dynasty;  here the consort is Parvati (Mahasampath Gowri).  Senni Vaikkal, a nearby village located almost 4 kms away from Lalgudi houses a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The lingam is made of Maragatham i.e. emerald and is 'Karupacchai' i.e. black green in colour. The temple also houses the idol of Meenakshi Sundareswarar. According to mythology it is stated that the temple was constructed by Kumbera's sons The shrine is almost in ruined state and requires renovation

Annually in the Tamil month of  Panguni there will be a car festival and the deities will be taken round the Ratha Veethys (streets)  and the main temple chariot is a big one. There are excellent carvings on the wooden base. The temple has 5 chariots of different sizes.



Sri Chidambaram Nataraja temple

Arudhra dharan, Chidambaram nataraja temple, TN. thehindu.com

carved mythological images, Chidambaram temple car. in.pinterest.com/

Temple chariot, wooden base,www.alamy.com

Chdambaram Nataraja temple, TN chariot Shutterstock

Above image:
Sri Chidambaram Nataraja temple. Wooden Chariot base decorated with beautifully carved sculptures depicting Lord Shiva's incarnation and related episodes...........

The sri Nataraja temple that is set on a land of 40 acres of land at Chidambaram is one of the Pancha bootha sthalams representing the sky. The implication here in this temple is god is formless and has no end and no beginning.  What is special about this 10th CE temple is its link with spirituality and arts.  No other Indian  temple has a  visible display of all the 108 karanas from the Natya Shastra by Bharata Muni, as this temple has and these postures form the essence and  foundation of Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance.  When the Delhi Sultanate raided south India under Malik Kafer in 1311 town like Chidambaram, Srirangam, Madurai and others  were looted and temples were destroyed. Historians say that  the Nataraja temple was one of the sources of gold and jewels booty he brought back to Delhi.
The temple has many halls called sabha (meaning  "community gathering", also called ambalams or sabhai). They are  Chit Sabha and the Kanaka Sabha  inside the sanctum area, Natya Sabha (2nd prakara) with 96 ornate pillars and  Raja sabha or the 1000-pillared hall (3rd prakara) outside the sanctum.

As for temple car procession, it takes place twice a year. There are five cars, the largest being for the main deity.The other temple cars carry goddess  Sivagamasundari, Lord Vinayaka, Lord Subramaniam, etc.   Here the processional deities utchavers are not used for chariot procession. Instead, the prime  main deity in the garbagriha is used for the procession.  The four foot tall decorated and  bejeweled idols of Lord Nataraja and Goddess Shivakama Sundari, are taken out of the sanctum clockwise around the  chitsabha  fot therottam. After the car festival the idols are taken to the Rajjya sabha for temple rituals. following day the holy ritual bathing that starts in the early morning will be for several hours. after theritual the god and goddess will be kept there for darshan and late  afternoon the deities will be taken back to their abode.  the two chariot events  are part of  he prime Arudhra Darshan (Margazhi festival) or Uttra Darshan (Aani Thirumanjanam festival) matching   Winter and Summer solstice (of Northern Hemisphere), respectively

Tamil Nadu, intricate wood carvings.Temple chariot,alamy.com