South India calls out to you,
its many sprawling temple grounds
speak volumes of mysterious histories
and wonderful, wilder times.
Thousands of brightly colored
sculpted arms await your gaze
upon the tall, towering walls
of Meenakshi Amman Temple.
So many gods dutifully depicted
and bathed in rainbows of paint.
It is here that India’s many colors,
its vast and multifaceted faith
can be seen, savored, and enjoyed
beneath the quiet, caring eyes
of the countless Hindu deities.
Two dozen football fields worth
of pure and pious faith.
Or perhaps you prefer
the vast Arunachaleshwar
laid out across the landscape,
tempting an epic adventure
between its awe-inspiring
cinematic and seemingly endless.
How must the gods have felt
looking down upon this sight?
Clamber to the cliffs nearby
to know the breadth of it,
the scale of the people’s love,
the weight of a god’s duty.
Maybe you’ll find your way
to the musical Vittala Temple
whose pillars resonate
amidst carvings of legends
while a great stone chariot,
handmade for Vishnu’s ascent
is parked not so far away
Truly it is a work of art
even within the scattered remains
of Vijayanagar, city of the valley,
once home to half a million,
now home mostly to the spirits
and the visitors who frequent it.
Take the trek to Venkateshwara.
Can you defeat the 3500 steps
and earn your own entry
to the gold-roofed shrine
in which the venerated idol sits?
Shuttle buses are available
but do you consider it cheating?
How many faceless, unknown pilgrims,
seeking no glory, acting only in devotion
have climbed these many steps?
What were their stories and their names?
What answers awaited them here?
See the old Shore Temple quickly
while it still stands at attention,
for it suffers such erosion, such age,
that it is a miracle to see it
still structurally sound, still there,
eager to welcome you to it.
Even the oldest of India’s temples
proudly withstand the test of time
as if blessed, not just with beauty,
but by the admiration of a people.
Bear witness today, while you can.