So we stuck our necks out today to take some sound and video that hints at the inner drama of the Hindu temples. Hopefully Shani doesn’t dispense karma as a result. More below.

The afternoon I arrived in Srikalahasti, after checking in to the hotel and showering, I walked around the town to familiarize myself for the following day. No white people in this part of the country, so I wasn’t surprised when this young professional looking guy introduces himself. Srinadh, a 2nd year MBA student, son of a historian. He offers to show me around the next day, just for the western company. Excellent. Thanks Shani, so far

Srikalahasti is a small town, pop. 88,000, and houses the most famous Shiva temple in South India. The wiki. Picture borrowed from the web

See that smaller of the two white towers, bottom centre? That’s the one. Off we go through the town

To here. The inner temple goes back to the 5th century. What’s visible here dates to about 1500

This entrance. It’s fairly quiet today

The outer courtyard, inside

Nandi. Shiva rides this bull. The statue is facing inwards towards Shiva’s chamber

Cradles hung in a tree. I’ve forgotten the significance, yikes

The orange and red dyes and dusts signify saffron and sindoor, more on this in a sec

A lady lights candles in this circle to please Shiva

Then we move to the inner temple

There’s a small opening in a wall to a likeness of Ganesha

I palm my small Hero 5 camera and descend the narrow steps, pocketing it before reaching the bottom. I hope that’s an acceptable compromise with the no cameras rule

Then, in a huge dark hall with ancient columns, sculptures and corridors. We waited for a reveal of Shiva, presented to us as a narrow, tall, lingam in a small candlelit room with water being poured over it. It was as strong a sight as I’ve seen in India, and nearly impossible to describe. This video was to capture the music, which was almost painfully loud

This is Hanuman and the origin of the sindoor and saffron colours you see everywhere. Hanuman won favour with Rama and symbolizes devotion, faith and bravery. There’s a long story about this, but the net is that Rama was pleased when Hanuman applied sindoor all over his body, to try and promote Rama’s long life. You can touch the colour here, it’s a mix of the dye and maybe oil, and apply a dab to your forehead. Only men are allowed to do this, traditionally, source

Then off into the country

To a Kali temple, which was behind this

The music

Nearby, a tree surrounded by sculptures of Naga, the snake god

Offerings to please her

And here’s the reason this is here. We’re surrounded by cobra infested fields and they hope worship will keep the villagers safe. 45,000 Indians die of snake bites a year, on average

As well presented and as beautiful as these kids are, they’re the poorest here Srinadh tells me

The off to a lingam on a hillside


They’re annointing their young son with water that’s drained off the lingam

Here’s where the temple cows live. They have a good life, before they die and go to heaven, according to Hindu faith. I hope that’s correct, imo cows should go to heaven

And here’s the most blessed of them. The holiest cow in this holy town. She’s not selected by blood line, but by physical characteristics

This is a dry town, like many. No beer in the hotel. But Srinadh knows this place and we catch up on what we saw for a couple of hours

Impressions when I know more.


One Comment so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Imma,

    There are very interesting all! I like so much. Thank you!!!

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