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In the hey-day of its glory, it was the centre of village or community life. Apart from being a beautiful creation of art and a place of worship, the temple came to assume and fulfill many other roles in course of time. 4 VIVEKANANDA KENDRA PATRIKA The Vishnu temple at Thirumukudal near Kanchipuram was running a school, a hostel and a hospital (aaturasaalaa) with fifteen beds. There is a reference to a lost Tamil translation of the Mahabharata in a twelfth century inscription at Thiruvaalangaadu. They include with other things accounts of cults, rituals, festivals, art-treasures, styles of 5 TEMPLE INDIA architecture and some temples of all-India importance.
They are sure to whet the appetite for more information, and some of them will show what we are missing by routine or mechanical visits to temples or pilgrimages of a similar kind. Fergusson, in the last century, naturally biased in favour of Greek art, was still obliged to entertain what would be in Europe regarded as an almost blasphemous thought-to rank the temples at Belur and Halebid as equaling in their own way the Parthenon of Greece. Today we have marvels of artistic achievement scattered all over India. In Tamilnadu, we are familiar with how the forgotten works of the Tevaram hymnists were recovered from the Chidambaram temple by Nambi Aandaar Nambi. Every one of these roles is proved by epigraphical inscriptions over the centuries.
Often it would have been the creation of dedicated architects and sculptors of genius, satisfying the aesthetic taste of even connoisseurs.