As a north Indian, visiting south Indian temples gives a different experience for many of us. I will be talking about the ordinary day to day temples that we visit nearby our residences or on just on the corner of our street.
Temples in north India can be very small from a small 3×4 feet area on roadside to very vast sizes. One major difference I saw that you won’t find many small temples of 3×4 size . In fact I don’t recall seeing anything like this in my recent tours to city like Bangalore. Or if these small temples are there that is not quite noticeable. Most of the temple you will find ot medium to large sizes with a proper vastu structure followed.
Very temple in south will be having mostly stambha in the middle. This stambha is very conspicuous and is most of the times completely missing in north Indian temples though.If Stambh is not present then they use a Trishula as the staff.
Rarely do I find a temple in south in dilapidated condition. Either they will be nicely decorated or at least with a decent painting.
You may find temples empty and no one is present at times during off hours. Even at the regular times of visiting also you will find space and can easily spend some time in temple without being rushed. Ideally when you go to the temple you should spend at least sometime there absorbing all positive energy of the holy place.
This is pleasant as in some of the northern Indian temples there is a lot of rush and we don’t get enough time to actually feel the solace and healing power of the temple.
Also you may not find a Brahaman or priest all times at many temples . They do worship in mornings etc on times and then they leave. Gate is open , you can come and just offer pooja and sit as long to get the feel of deity’s blessings at your own pace. No hurry.
South temples are typically adorned with mythological figures and creatures on their tops. Nandi, Lion, Garuda , Nagas are very common.
Another striking feature of south temples is Gopuram , which is the entrance gate of the temple. Gopuram is usually very lofty and at times seems to be reaching higher than the main temple sanctum peak as well.
Overall the ambience of the temples in south India is very peaceful and easy going. Only problem a north Indian not knowing the local language, would face though who is the presiding deity of the temple. As most of the murthis are heavily adorned and unless you ask someone, its difficult to know just by looking at the Murthy.
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