Title: 108 Vishnu Temples: Architectural Splendour, Spiritual Bliss

AUTHOR: Avey Varghese

PP: 520

PRICE: Rs. 2000

Publisher: Niyogi Books

India is a country with an infinite number of temples. Because of its history as an ancient land of the Hindus, there is no dearth of temples all over, literally. And they can be ornately designed expensive huge structure or just a small stone kept under a tree on a raised platform, with saffron colour plastered all over. You can find a temple in a deep dense forest, in an uninhibited valley, on hill tops, deep gorges of difficult mountain terrains, in much less populated villages or right on the main road of any bustling Indian city, across the length and breadth of this vast country.

Temple architecture is a highly absorbing branch of knowledge not merely for budding architects, religious devout or a historian, but for a layman too.

The book that is under review here is an exquisitely produced and well researched volume on the 106 temples strewn across India, mainly in the southern part of the country. According to the author, the remaining two temples are in mystical realm and a devotee, upon completing the pilgrimage of these 106 temples, gains access to the rest of the two temples.

The author has done extensive research on these temples, their history, legends associated with them and architectural styles that have been influenced by the local dynasties who built them and the periods, besides geography. In temple architecture, the structure is revered as a symbolic representation of God’s form where the topmost point of the temple is the head; the sanctum sanctorum is the heart ; the front hall is the stomach and the main gate is the feet of the Almighty. The idol of the deity in the sanctum is the pivotal point akin to the soul of the being. The first temple of the series of 108 is definitely needs a detailed mention.It’s the temple of Sri Rangathan, (Vishnu) the presiding deity, near Tiruchirapally in Tami Nadu and is considered the largest temple in India, abundant in history and legend. Situated on an islet created by the rivers Kaveri and Kollidam, the temple and its complimentary structures are set in a massive compound of about 156 acres within a perimeter of 4116 meters. Out of the 21 towers, the 236-foot long Rajagopuram is second tallest of its kind in Asia, according to the author. In the temple Thiru Neermalai in Chennai, Sage Valmiki wanted to see the wedding ceremony of Lord Rama. The Lord, along with Sita Devi, his brothers Lakshmana, Shatrughana and Bharata appeared before the sage who requested him to stay in his place for the benefit of his devotees. The temples in northern India are at Thiru Ayodhya in UP (Faizabad) while the one of Thiru Naimisaranyam is situated near Sitapur in UP and is also selfmanifested. There are eight such temples.

Author, himself a photographer, has given pictorial details of all temples including that of Uttarakhand (Badrinath, Devprayag and Joshimutt) and in Gujarat (Thiru Dwarka).

Indeed, the Chennai-based young author, Avey Varghese, with traditional Christian family background, has done a very commendable job of researching and compiling this book which is a very important document for the Vaishnavites, among other Godloving Hindus. The writer can