A Temple by the River: Bhakatavatsala Perumal Temple

This morning, I visited a gorgeous jewel of a temple located right on the banks of the Tamaraparani. The location is so scenic, idyllic, really. One can walk to the river bank from the temple, although this path was closed as the temple priest hadn’t shown up.

The temple has one of the most delicately carved, richly detailed vimanas I’ve seen. While the rest of the temple is quite plain–there are a few striking sculptures on pillars and so forth–the real workmanship is in the vimana, where the long ago, anonymous artists have worked hard, unrelenting granite as though it’s soft as soap, pliable as wax. I was thinking of Crispin Branfoot’s work on the expanding temple, and how well this gem exemplified it. There are inscriptions galore to delight the epigraphist’s heart, many of them unrecorded/unreported. Leslie Orr has probably been here many times over.

The temple had fallen into terrible disrepair some ten years back. It then came under the control of the Central ASI, who took the temple apart and rebuilt it. It’s now a well maintained temple, with a priest who keeps the temple open in the morning from 8-11 AM. And the morning light made an already striking temple even more gorgeous. The stone just glowed in some places.

I will certainly be returning, hopefully many times over, to really take in the beauty of that stunning vimana.

Also, on the vimana, an extraordinary Narasimha, the likes of which I’ve never seen.

Bhakatavatsala Perumal Temple, Cheranmahadevi.