South-west view of Garbhagriham with carved somasutra, Tiruvalathur, Palghat Taluk
Photographer: Archaeological Survey of India
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the sanctuary or garbhagriham of the Bhagavati Temple at Tiruvalathur in the Palakkad (Palghat) district of Kerala, taken by a photographer of the Archaeological Survey of India on the 1st February 1901. In the second volume of his work 'Malabar' of 1887, William Logan wrote about this temple, "Tiruvalathur - In Tiruvalathur amasam. Dedicated to Durgha. The Srikovil is covered with copper sheeting. the other buildings are tiled. 366 x 330 in extent." This view shows the carved somasutra, the stone duct outside the sanctuary (Sree Kovil in Kerala) through which ritual offerings, like milk and water, drain out. The sanctuary has huge, tiered, overhanging eaves and is circular. Circular-plan sanctuaries, unusual in the rest of India, are frequently found in Kerala. The photograph shows priests posed on the steps of the Bhagavati temple complex, with a tall dhvajastambham or flagpole to the left. The characteristic sloping roofs of Kerala temples, which became part of the building style as a protective device to ward off monsoon rains, were usually tiled, thatched, or given copper sheets. Kerala and Tamil Nadu were in close contact politically and culturally and traditionally Palakkad was considered the Gateway to Kerala, because the natural gap in the hills of the Western Ghats here provided a connecting trade route between the two regions. Bhagavati, a form of the goddess Durga, is one of the principal deities of Kerala, with numerous temples dedicated to her.