North-east view of Teppakulam with a subterranean paved gallery all round, Madura
Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Teppakulam tank at Madurai in Tamil Nadu, taken by a photographer of the Archaeological Survey of India around 1899-1900. The temple city of Madurai is dominated by the imposing complex of the Minakshi Sundareshvara Temple, an ancient pilgrimage site which was restructured and expanded during the 17th century under the rule of the Nayakas, former governors of the Vijayanagara empire. Tirumala Nayaka (ruled 1623-1659), was responsible for its construction. The Mariamman Teppakulam at Vandiyur 5 kms from the Minakshi temple is one of the biggest temple tanks or reservoirs in South India. It was built by Tirumala Nayaka 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 suicides.