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Madura. The Sacred Tank [Teppakulam]

Madura. The Sacred Tank [Teppakulam]

Photographer: Lyon, Edmund David

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1868

Shelfmark: Photo 212/2(33)

Item number: 212233

Genre: Photograph

Photograph from an album of 40 albumen prints by Edmund David Lyon. The Mariamman Teppakulam at Vandiyur 5 kms from the Minakshi temple at Madurai is one of the biggest temple tanks in South India. It was built in the 17th century and was constantly filled with water from underground channels leading from the river Vaigai. The temple on the island in the centre houses an idol of Vigneshvara (the elephant god Ganesha), which was said to have been unearthed when the area was originally excavated to make bricks for Tirumala Nayaka's palace. The tank is famed for the Float Festival in January/February when the idols of Minakshi and Sundareshvara are floated on it on a raft decorated with lights, prior to their wedding ceremony. Except for this period, the tank is kept devoid of water to prevent it being a focus for suicides, and it becomes a green gathering place. Lyon's 'Notes to Accompany a Series of Photographs Prepared to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern India' (Marion & Co., London, 1870), edited by James Fergusson, explain that this view '...represents the Sacred Tank about two miles outside the town to the east. It is about 300 yards square, and was built by Trimul Nayak at an expense, it is said, of £10,000. The Rajah is said to have given lands yielding a rental of £1,000 for the expenses of the annual festival. The tank is constructed throughout of hewn stone, with flights of steps on each side; in the centre is a highly ornamental pavilion, in which the god and goddess rest after the fatigue of their aquatic excursion. The pavilion stands in the midst of a garden, filled with shrubs, and containing some excellent fruit-trees. The sides of the tank, and the garden and pavilion in the centre, are beautifully illuminated at the annual Festival.'

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