Annual Pongal celebratioN Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu

Emerging Indian Photographer Biju Ibrahim has versatile interests and a restless zeal to create images, be it still or moving. A chronicler at heart, he is open and curious to observe and document the versatility of India's diverse lifestyle, ritual, and landscape. Moon Light is an exclusive video column by Biju Ibrahim, in which he shares a slice of his journeys and experiences as moving image anecdotes. Bhakti was shot in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, an ancient nature worship town situated at the Bangalore - Pondicherry Highway. 


Experiments done by the Geological Survey of India have revealed that the charnockite rock which makes up the Annamalai hill in Tiruvannamalai is older than 3.5 billion years and believed to have formed as a result of a massive volcanic eruption. The fertile land around the hill was highly potent for farming and soon became an important human settlement in South India. During the Sangam, Classical period (3rd century BCE to 3rd century CE), Buddhism and Jainism were the most prominent philosophies in South India and during that time, Tiruvannamalai became one of the important centers for Jain culture and learning. Later, many legends and mythical stories of Tamil Saiva lore grew around the Annamalai Hill and it came to be revered as “Agni” (fire), one of the panchabhootas (five elements). Substantial historical records of this town are available from the 9th century CE, mainly from Chola inscriptions in the Annamalaiyar temple of Tiruvannamalai. Further inscriptions made before the ninth century, found scattered around the small town, indicate the rule of Pallava kings, whose capital was Kanchipuram. The seventh-century saint poets Sambandar, Appar, and Manickavacakar wrote of the temple in their poetic works. The Chola Kings ruled over the region for more than four centuries, from 850 to 1280 CE, and were temple patrons. The inscriptions from the Chola king record various gifts like land, sheep, cow, and oil to the temple commemorating various victories of the dynasty. The Annamalaiyar temple is nothing short of an architectural marvel, encompassing a wide array of iconographic styles and techniques.

That Beyond is Fullness.
This here is Fullness.
From Fullness comes Fullness.
Drawing out the Fullness of the Fullness.
Fullness yet remains.
Om, peace, peace, peace.

(Isha Upanishad chanted in the Arunachaleswarar Temple)

The Annamalaiyar temple is one of the largest Shiva temple complexes in India, spanning over 25 acres. There are no concise written records indicating the exact time period when the earliest structures of the Annamalaiyar temple were erected. The modern temple complex is a result of constructions carried out by successive dynasties of Kings over many centuries – especially the post-Sangam period Chola dynasties (9th century CE), and later expanded by the Sangama dynasty, who ruled Vijayanagara (1336-1485 CE), the Saluva dynasty, and the Tuluva dynasty (1491-1570 CE), and Tanjore Nayaks. In the 17th century, Tiruvannamalai town and the temple came under the stewardship of the Nawab of Carnatic (Arcot), a vassal of the Nizam of Hyderabad. After 1753, the town came into the domain of Europeans, with the French occupying it in 1757, and then the British in 1760 until Tipu Sultan annexed the territory in 1790. It finally fell back into British hands in the early 19th century.






He captures the essence of rustic geographies, the people who are now becoming archive of the earth, the mythic & mystery of spaces & places, alleys of now filled with the density of then or before.



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