The main attractions at the Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple are, of course, the four large gopuras (pyramidal gates) to the north, south, east and west. Consequently, they are the only means of access through the towering exterior walls. These gopuras are covered with stucco deities painted in elaborate colors- a total of 12 exist throughout the temple complex. The gopuras are often aligned with the streets and serve as a wonderful landmark within the city.
The complex itself performs two programmatic functions: worshiping and shopping. In essence, it is the 7th Century equivalent to the luxury shopping mall. Grand halls are supported with elaborate pillars of granite, carved and painted, leading from one sanctum to another. One may peruse through boutiques selling trinkets, knick-knacks and jewelry while on the way to a good ol’ Hindu blessing. There is a floral wreath department, as well as a food court, all conveniently located within the confines of the complex.
Smaller shrines are found intermittently and are often the most dramatically lit. There is a profound use of natural light and materiality, which dominates the senses, and thus enhances the feeling of ones bare feet against the rough granite. Circulation through the complex can at times be perplexing, although this confusion often leads to pleasant surprises.
The stucco deities of the gopura
The southern gopura
Potramarai Kulam aka the Golden Lotus Pool
The adorned mall
This dramatic lighting is somewhat common throughout the complex
An Indo Inquisition is a thirteen-week train expedition across India. The journey will document the influences of international modernism and British occupation, as well as compare the effects of wealth accumulation, culture, religion, and poverty with economic growth and their effect on the built environment.