City of temples is not a new concept for Bharat. North-South East-West, across Bharat, there are many cities where there are numerous temples. One main shrine and many smaller ones. Kedarnath, Rishikesh, Badrinath Varanasi, Dwarka, Haridwar, Kanchipuram, Srisailam, and Hampi are some of the temple cities deity is being worshipped with utmost devotion. Main Temple of the city is the focal point of all the activities, social, cultural, and economical.
Jain temples are always on a high hill away from the village, and they stand together holding each other's hands the same as members of Bharat's joint families. Jainism is rooted in Bharat. There are many hills which are decorated with the peaks of Jain temples. To mention a few, Dilwara temples of Mount Abu, temples of Sonegir, Shravanabelagola in Karnataka and many more.
There are some temple villages where temples are many but devoid of idol worship. These temples are eager to interact, as a living monument to our history. The villages of Patadakkal, Aihol and Badami in Karnataka are among them. In some of the temples here, people are living. Those temples are now their homes. Some of the temples are now preserved, due to their World Heritage status. Bhojpur and Ashapuri near Bhopal had many temples. The temples in Ashapuri have now been completely demolished. What could have been the purpose of building so many temples?
Madurai probably is the biggest temple town of Southern Bharat. Meenakshi temple of Madurai is famous. Meenakshi is the form of Parvathi, and Shiva is called Sundaram here. Very beautiful construction; based on sculptural science. The sky of this village seems to be covered with tall gopurams and golden peaks. Gradually the area of the temple grew. Every king thought of doing something for the temple, in the name of restoration, leaving the original temple as it was. The king would build a new fortification wall. So, the area of the temple gradually increased, and there were many small and big courtyards. Different events, festivals and fairs are organised in each premise from time to time, so it is also possible to plan and manage the crowds and devotees.
(The columnist is Principal of SMM College of Architecture, Nagpur and specialises in Bharatiya Architectural Heritage)