The southern tip of India is a peninsula, and the whole east side of Andhra Pradesh (which is on the south-east slice of India) is a coast, overlooking the Bay of Bengal. I’d left Hyderabad — a completely landlocked city — and clicketty-clacked over in a train to my grandparents’ town, which is a little over 10 miles from the bay.
This town is famous, among other things, for a centuries-old temple that sits smack dab in the middle of town. Its 125 ft gopuram (the tall
cone-shaped tower made of stone) looms over everything else in sight.
The temple was built by Chalukyas in the 1400s. (Chalukyas were one of the most powerful and enduring dynasties to rule over parts of southern and central India.)
Every inch of the tower’s surface is sculpted with gorgeous figures depicting stories from the Hindu mythology.
Growing up, when we went about our daily lives, spending time with cousins or visiting friends, we always passed by the gopuram. It was like the moon: it followed us like a shadow everywhere we went, watching over us.
When I think about it now, never once did I stop then and reflect upon its past and history. I was definitely not apathetic to it: I always wondered at its height (craning my neck to catch the glimpse of the very tip of it) and the beauty of the engravings; it’s just that I took it for granted that it has always been a part of the town and always will be.
Simply put, in India, history is a way of life. That also explains why even ancient structures are not cordoned off from the public and protected.
They have existed, as part of people’s lives, bearing silent testimony to the passage of time for centuries and will continue to do so in the future.
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I had a grand time sharing memories of my vacation with you all in bits and pieces for the past few months in this blog . Thank you for taking this trip with me!
I’ll leave you all with pictures I took as I went about different towns and cities trying to gather together memories of my childhood…