Temple towers / Gopurams

Hurray! This is the 100th post in my blog and this is really special, and by coincidence the topic says it…quite a big achievement 🙂

We visited several temples during my travelogue during the past few days and I posted the photograph of the corresponding temple tower or gopuram in my corresponding posts. Now, let’s go into some details as to what these gopurams are about, their significance and the height of these monuments in several magnificent temples.

Some prominent temple gopurams

Gopuram or gopura (Sanskrit: गोपुरम्, gopuram) is a monumental entrance tower, usually ornate, at the entrance of a temple, in the Dravidian architecture of the Tamil NaduAndhra PradeshKeralaKarnataka, and Telangana states of Southern India. They are topped by the kalasam, a bulbous stone finial. They function as gateways through the walls that surround the temple complex.  Another towering structure located towards the center of the temple is the Vimanam. Both of them are designed and constructed as per rules given in the texts of Vaastu shastra

The Tamil derivation is from the two words: கோ (kō) and புறம் (puram) meaning ‘king’ and ‘exterior’ respectively It originates from the Sangam age when it was known as ஓங்கு நிலை வாயில் (ōnggu nilai vāyil) meaning ‘imperishable gateway’.

An alternative derivation is from the Sanskrit word gopuram, which can be broken down to go (Sanskrit: गो), which means either ‘a city’ or ‘a cow’, and puram (Sanskrit: पुरम्), ‘a town’, or ‘a settlement’.

Vimanam means measure, indicating the number of measures made in the construction and design of that structure. Gopuram consist of two words, gawa and puram, meaning the place from which all the energy that exists in all living beings comes inside.

The below information lists the height of the gopurams of various temples (in descending order):

1. Sri Ranganathaswamy temple, Srirangam, Trichirapalli, Tamil Nadu – 236 ft (71.93m)

2. Annamalayyaar temple, Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu ,
(Pancha Bhootha Sthalam) – 217 ft (66.14m)

3. Brihadeeswarar temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu – 216 ft (65.84m)

4. Thiruperundhurai temple, Aavudaiyaar Koil, Tamil Nadu – 200 ft (60.96m)

5. Kasi Viswanathar temple, Thenkasi, Tamil Nadu – 178 ft (54.25m)

6. Meenakshi Amman temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu – 170.6 ft (52.0m)

7. Andal Temple, Srivilliputhur, Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu – 164 ft (49.99m)

8. Rajagopalaswamy temple, Mannargudi, Tiruvarur, Tamil Nadu – 154 ft (46.94m)

9. Sarangapani temple, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu – 147 ft (44.81m)

10. Thillai Natarajar temple, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu – 140 ft (42.67m)

11. Thanumalayan temple, Suseendram, Kanya Kumari, Tamil Nadu ,
(Pancha Bhootha Sthalam) – 134 ft (40.84m)

12. Jambukeswara temple, Thiruvanaikaval, Tamil Nadu, (Pancha Bhootha Sthalam) – 128 ft (39.01m)

13. Aadi Kumbeswarar temple, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu – 128 ft (39.01m)

14. Subramaniya Swamy temple, Thiruchendur, Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu – 127 ft (38.71m)

15. Ramanathaswamy temple, Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu – 126 ft (38.41m)

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