Kumbakonam Travel Blog› entry 6 of 7 › view all entries
Now the main reason my mom wanted me to come to India, besides the fact this was my first summer with nothing to do, was to visit a number of Hindu Temples. My parents are very devout Hindus and often go out of their way to visit a temple if it is within driving distance of the city we are visiting. Every temple is unique, but they all follow certain guidelines. Now India has temples out the wazzoo. Nearly every community has a temple, in fact most of the money a community produces goes into its temple, which is why Hindu temples are dazzling pieces of architecture.
I think we may have set a record in visiting 35 temples over the whole trip. In 3 days we actually visited 24 of them. And these were NOT right next to each other. Many were a good hours drive away from Kumbakonum. It took a lot of precision planning to get through them all before they closed each day. The main temples we were visiting are known as the Navagraha Temples. The Navagraha is part of the Hindu astrology system. Its very complicated but really interesting stuff. I'm a scientist by training and disregarded Western astronomy as much of it is attributable to the Barnum or Forer effect. But after learning more about these Hindu systems and seeing how accurate they are, I'm slowly becoming a believer. Slowly. If there's any interest I'll be glad to post on that another time or give an abbreviated version to anyone that asks.
But visiting so many of these temples has brought me much closer to my Hindu heritage. I was in awe when I visited these temples. Many of these temples are hundreds (thousands) of years old, but are all hand-made. When you see the outside, you usually see the gopurams, which are towers that depict a number of mythological scenes. The insides are truly stunning. There is so much intricate detail on the insides that it is hard to believe it was all done by hand. Unfortunately, you only see pictures of the outsides, as we can't take pictures inside. But I could really feel the power contained in these temples surging through me as I stood in each one. I have never felt a connection that deep before. It has made me want to learn even more. I can start to understand why these temples form the heart of each Hindu community.