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Books > Art and Architecture > Glimpses of Architecture in Kerala: Temples and Palaces
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Glimpses of Architecture in Kerala: Temples and Palaces
Glimpses of Architecture in Kerala: Temples and Palaces
Description

About the Book:

The intention of this book is to explore, through a visual commentary, the extraordinary timber buildings of Kerala in India. Kerala temples in particular are unique to the sub-continent as they are built with wooden roofs and covered by copper tiles. This allows for simplicity of form that is later developed to create beautiful spaces.

The photographs have been composed keeping in mind how a building silhouette interacts with the surrounding sky and landscape. The temples are usually set in an exceptional part of the countryside and the visitor is able to experience a visual feast before entering into the rituals of prayer.

Many visitors from other parts of the world are unable to see these fine examples of architecture, and the following pages will allow a glimpse of the exciting treasures this part of India provides. They are a few examples of a vast array of temples that exist in every corner of the state. The book does not try to explain styles or history of the buildings but concentrates on conveying the way in which an architect perceives these buildings and art. Sri Aurobindo writes that 'Indian architecture should be seen in loneliness, in the solitude of one's self, in moments when one is capable of long and deep meditation and as little weighted as possible with the conventions of material life.'

The narrative, it is hoped, will help with the quest of viewing buildings and space to achieve inner peace.

About the Author:

Ramu Katakam has been practicing architecture in India for the past thirty years. He has worked on a number of heritage projects including the restoration of the Golkonda fort in the Deccan.

Design work has taken him to all parts of the country. From Leh in the north to Trivandrum in the south and Bhuj in Gujarat in the west to Bhutan and Kohima in the east. He gave up practice some time ago to research traditional Indian architecture and has been travelling in Kerala for the past three years.

Joginder Singh is an architect and photographer who has travelled to Kerala for three years working on a book on Laurie Baker and his work. His passion for photography and love of buildings has led him to help put this book together. As a follower of Baker's ideologies, he has worked in many parts of India building low cost buildings. He is now concentrating on professional photography as his first priority.

Introduction:

The clarity and simplicity of the timber architecture of Kerala has always attracted me to visiting this part of India on many occasions. When a colleague asked me to write about a particular building that had affected me more than others, I took the matter of looking at Kerala architecture more closely. I have reproduced the article as the starting point of this book because the words seem to capture the essence of the images that follow.

As you age you become conscious of the persistent and life-long movement of individuals on this planet. The planet itself is moving in several directions, and simultaneously, an individual generates further vectors of action. A force that appears to be churning almost like the perpetual churning of the oceans. In this world of movement, the mind tries to find a place of repose.

Architecture, in my view, is a microcosm of one's own mind. On entering a room, what appears to be perfect at one moment rapidly changes as one walks through it. As I grew to assimilate some of the great buildings, many changes occurred in my view of them.

In the early part of my career, I saw Fathepur Sikri as the perfect composition. The royal courtyard at that time was the right blend of detail, planning and design. It captured a balance between Hindu motifs and Moghul decoration, reflecting the secular nature of Akbar's thinking. That was what good architecture was about.

But as the years went by, different places gave more fulfillment. Getting off the train at Jaisalmer early one morning, I got a view of the fort lit up by the rising sun; it appeared to be made of gold. On a visit to the Greek Island of Santorini, I saw its white dwellings atop a volcano against the backdrop of the Mediterranean. Each place left a distilled image in the mind; each confrontation with a place created a hunger for more. The ruins at Hampi, the Forbidden City in Beijing, the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde and the temples of Luxor. And yet the hunger persisted.

It was only on a visit to Elephanta caves near Mumbai that I received my first awakening to another kind of architecture. For the first time, architecture gave me a clue that I had to keep still. It was with this stillness that a glimmer of the world beyond is perceived. The changed view of architecture touched the very basis of my perception. It was Siva at Elephanta who made me stop and stand still.

And I remembered what father Favel Florensky, the Russian philosopher and historian wrote: 'For within ourselves life in the visible world alternates with life in the invisible world and thus we experience moments-sometimes brief, sometimes extraordinarily fleeting, sometimes even the tiniest atom of time-when the two worlds grow so near in us that we can see their intimate touching. At such moments, the veil of visibility is torn apart and through that tear-that break, we are conscious of that moment-we sense the invisible world is breathing and both this and the other world are dissolving into each other. Our life at such moments becomes an unceasing stream in the same way that air when warmed streams upward from the heart.'

The moment I entered the Ettamannur temple in Kerala, I was seized with the awareness Florensky described. There are clearly two worlds coexisting in this temple-the experience of pure space and the moment of complete freedom. When that realization dawned, I knew the search was over; the hunger for yet more architecture had been driven away.

At first of course, the professional architect in me had to examine the design, the plan and materials. The simplicity of the layout, the structure's attention to detail. What came to mind then, was a Japanese temple, and the term for this kind of planning called 'Ma' or place making. An attempt to find order in disorder: As if one of many scattered beans on a polished floor holds the balance of the whole composition. In Kerala the grouping of structures within a rectangular court follows the same idea. Local materials are put together with tenderness and care, and nothing appears out of place. Such architecture has maintained a continuity over the past 900 years, and over the period, changed little in design. But like individuals, each temple is unique.

To me, Ettamannur is a place of peace that gave me an opportunity to glimpse the invisible world. A world inside myself. Within its stillness the temple promised me many memorable moments. One of them was the time of prayer, when crowds milled about, and the fragrance of jasmine hung in the air. Among the abundance of colour and lovely faces, chaos reigned-and I was completely overwhelmed by the flow.

Close to the temple, emerald-coloured rice fields and the golden light of the setting sun gave me a reassurance of purpose. By late evening, a quiet descended as I walked around the courtyard; the outside world was forgotten and left behind. The solitude among the buildings and the spaces between them left me little to ask for. As daylight receded, the oil lamps were lit by thousands of lamps was a great wall of light dissolving the solidity of the daytime into an illusion: the illusion perhaps of existence.

AS I turned to walk out of the rear; towards the trees and vegetation, the mind emptied itself and stillness enveloped me. A wild champa growing against the outer wall released its fragrance and once again it felt as if everything had stopped moving.

 

CONTENTS

 

Introduction 8
Nature of the Universe 12
Architecture in Kerala 14
Sri Mahadeva Temple, Ettumanoor 22
Sri Vadakkunatha Siva Temple, Thrissur 26
Sri Mahadeva Temple, Peruvanam 47
Sri Anantha Padmanabhaswami Temple, Thiruvananthapuram 58
Sri Vallabhaswami Temple, Thiruvalla 61
Sri Subramanyaswami Temple, Haripad 68
Sri Parasumramaswami Temple, Thiruvallam 74
Sri Mahadeva Temple, Vazhapalli 86
Krishnapuram Palace, near Kayankulam 89
Sri Mahadeva Temple, Vaikom 97
Wooden Houses 104
Sri Mahadeva Temple, Kaviyur 116
The Ten Avataras of Vishnu 123
Sri Anantha Padmanabhaswami Temple, Kumbala 152
Sri Ramaswami Temple, Thiruvangad 166
Sri Mahavishnu Temple, Thirunelli 180
Sri Ramaswami Temple, Thripprayar 182
Koodalmanikkam Sri Bhartharswami Temple, Irinjalakuda 184
Sri Poornathrayeesa Temple, Thripoonithura 188
Padmanabhapuram Palace, near Thuckalai, Tamil Nadu 191
Perumthrikkovil Sri Mahadeva Temple, Pazhoor 208
Sri Krishna Temple, Karatt 211
Sri Krishna Temple, Tricchambaram 216
Sri Vamanamoorthy Temple, Thrikkakara 220
Postscript 225
Map of Kerala 226
Glossary 228
Select bibliography 229
Acknowledgements and Photo Credits 232

Glimpses of Architecture in Kerala: Temples and Palaces

Item Code:
IDG440
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2006
ISBN:
8129109093
Size:
9" X 9"
Pages:
230 (Color Illus: 101)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 1.120 Kg
Price:
$70.00   Shipping Free - 4 to 6 days
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About the Book:

The intention of this book is to explore, through a visual commentary, the extraordinary timber buildings of Kerala in India. Kerala temples in particular are unique to the sub-continent as they are built with wooden roofs and covered by copper tiles. This allows for simplicity of form that is later developed to create beautiful spaces.

The photographs have been composed keeping in mind how a building silhouette interacts with the surrounding sky and landscape. The temples are usually set in an exceptional part of the countryside and the visitor is able to experience a visual feast before entering into the rituals of prayer.

Many visitors from other parts of the world are unable to see these fine examples of architecture, and the following pages will allow a glimpse of the exciting treasures this part of India provides. They are a few examples of a vast array of temples that exist in every corner of the state. The book does not try to explain styles or history of the buildings but concentrates on conveying the way in which an architect perceives these buildings and art. Sri Aurobindo writes that 'Indian architecture should be seen in loneliness, in the solitude of one's self, in moments when one is capable of long and deep meditation and as little weighted as possible with the conventions of material life.'

The narrative, it is hoped, will help with the quest of viewing buildings and space to achieve inner peace.

About the Author:

Ramu Katakam has been practicing architecture in India for the past thirty years. He has worked on a number of heritage projects including the restoration of the Golkonda fort in the Deccan.

Design work has taken him to all parts of the country. From Leh in the north to Trivandrum in the south and Bhuj in Gujarat in the west to Bhutan and Kohima in the east. He gave up practice some time ago to research traditional Indian architecture and has been travelling in Kerala for the past three years.

Joginder Singh is an architect and photographer who has travelled to Kerala for three years working on a book on Laurie Baker and his work. His passion for photography and love of buildings has led him to help put this book together. As a follower of Baker's ideologies, he has worked in many parts of India building low cost buildings. He is now concentrating on professional photography as his first priority.

Introduction:

The clarity and simplicity of the timber architecture of Kerala has always attracted me to visiting this part of India on many occasions. When a colleague asked me to write about a particular building that had affected me more than others, I took the matter of looking at Kerala architecture more closely. I have reproduced the article as the starting point of this book because the words seem to capture the essence of the images that follow.

As you age you become conscious of the persistent and life-long movement of individuals on this planet. The planet itself is moving in several directions, and simultaneously, an individual generates further vectors of action. A force that appears to be churning almost like the perpetual churning of the oceans. In this world of movement, the mind tries to find a place of repose.

Architecture, in my view, is a microcosm of one's own mind. On entering a room, what appears to be perfect at one moment rapidly changes as one walks through it. As I grew to assimilate some of the great buildings, many changes occurred in my view of them.

In the early part of my career, I saw Fathepur Sikri as the perfect composition. The royal courtyard at that time was the right blend of detail, planning and design. It captured a balance between Hindu motifs and Moghul decoration, reflecting the secular nature of Akbar's thinking. That was what good architecture was about.

But as the years went by, different places gave more fulfillment. Getting off the train at Jaisalmer early one morning, I got a view of the fort lit up by the rising sun; it appeared to be made of gold. On a visit to the Greek Island of Santorini, I saw its white dwellings atop a volcano against the backdrop of the Mediterranean. Each place left a distilled image in the mind; each confrontation with a place created a hunger for more. The ruins at Hampi, the Forbidden City in Beijing, the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde and the temples of Luxor. And yet the hunger persisted.

It was only on a visit to Elephanta caves near Mumbai that I received my first awakening to another kind of architecture. For the first time, architecture gave me a clue that I had to keep still. It was with this stillness that a glimmer of the world beyond is perceived. The changed view of architecture touched the very basis of my perception. It was Siva at Elephanta who made me stop and stand still.

And I remembered what father Favel Florensky, the Russian philosopher and historian wrote: 'For within ourselves life in the visible world alternates with life in the invisible world and thus we experience moments-sometimes brief, sometimes extraordinarily fleeting, sometimes even the tiniest atom of time-when the two worlds grow so near in us that we can see their intimate touching. At such moments, the veil of visibility is torn apart and through that tear-that break, we are conscious of that moment-we sense the invisible world is breathing and both this and the other world are dissolving into each other. Our life at such moments becomes an unceasing stream in the same way that air when warmed streams upward from the heart.'

The moment I entered the Ettamannur temple in Kerala, I was seized with the awareness Florensky described. There are clearly two worlds coexisting in this temple-the experience of pure space and the moment of complete freedom. When that realization dawned, I knew the search was over; the hunger for yet more architecture had been driven away.

At first of course, the professional architect in me had to examine the design, the plan and materials. The simplicity of the layout, the structure's attention to detail. What came to mind then, was a Japanese temple, and the term for this kind of planning called 'Ma' or place making. An attempt to find order in disorder: As if one of many scattered beans on a polished floor holds the balance of the whole composition. In Kerala the grouping of structures within a rectangular court follows the same idea. Local materials are put together with tenderness and care, and nothing appears out of place. Such architecture has maintained a continuity over the past 900 years, and over the period, changed little in design. But like individuals, each temple is unique.

To me, Ettamannur is a place of peace that gave me an opportunity to glimpse the invisible world. A world inside myself. Within its stillness the temple promised me many memorable moments. One of them was the time of prayer, when crowds milled about, and the fragrance of jasmine hung in the air. Among the abundance of colour and lovely faces, chaos reigned-and I was completely overwhelmed by the flow.

Close to the temple, emerald-coloured rice fields and the golden light of the setting sun gave me a reassurance of purpose. By late evening, a quiet descended as I walked around the courtyard; the outside world was forgotten and left behind. The solitude among the buildings and the spaces between them left me little to ask for. As daylight receded, the oil lamps were lit by thousands of lamps was a great wall of light dissolving the solidity of the daytime into an illusion: the illusion perhaps of existence.

AS I turned to walk out of the rear; towards the trees and vegetation, the mind emptied itself and stillness enveloped me. A wild champa growing against the outer wall released its fragrance and once again it felt as if everything had stopped moving.

 

CONTENTS

 

Introduction 8
Nature of the Universe 12
Architecture in Kerala 14
Sri Mahadeva Temple, Ettumanoor 22
Sri Vadakkunatha Siva Temple, Thrissur 26
Sri Mahadeva Temple, Peruvanam 47
Sri Anantha Padmanabhaswami Temple, Thiruvananthapuram 58
Sri Vallabhaswami Temple, Thiruvalla 61
Sri Subramanyaswami Temple, Haripad 68
Sri Parasumramaswami Temple, Thiruvallam 74
Sri Mahadeva Temple, Vazhapalli 86
Krishnapuram Palace, near Kayankulam 89
Sri Mahadeva Temple, Vaikom 97
Wooden Houses 104
Sri Mahadeva Temple, Kaviyur 116
The Ten Avataras of Vishnu 123
Sri Anantha Padmanabhaswami Temple, Kumbala 152
Sri Ramaswami Temple, Thiruvangad 166
Sri Mahavishnu Temple, Thirunelli 180
Sri Ramaswami Temple, Thripprayar 182
Koodalmanikkam Sri Bhartharswami Temple, Irinjalakuda 184
Sri Poornathrayeesa Temple, Thripoonithura 188
Padmanabhapuram Palace, near Thuckalai, Tamil Nadu 191
Perumthrikkovil Sri Mahadeva Temple, Pazhoor 208
Sri Krishna Temple, Karatt 211
Sri Krishna Temple, Tricchambaram 216
Sri Vamanamoorthy Temple, Thrikkakara 220
Postscript 225
Map of Kerala 226
Glossary 228
Select bibliography 229
Acknowledgements and Photo Credits 232
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