Agraharam

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"Agrahara" redirects here. For other uses, see Agrahara (disambiguation).
An Agraharam in Thanjavur District

An Agraharam (Tamil: அக்கிறஹாரம்; Telugu: అగ్రహారం; Kannada: ಅಗ್ರಹಾರ) or Agrahara is the name given to the Brahmin quarter of a heterogenous village or to any village inhabited by Brahmins. Agraharams were also known as Chaturvedimangalams in ancient times. They were also known as ghatoka, and boya.[1]

The name originates from the fact that the agraharams have lines of houses on either side of the road and the temple to the village god at the centre, thus resembling a garland around the temple. According to the traditional Hindu practice of architecture and town-planning, an agraharam is held to be two rows of houses running north-south on either side of a road at one end of which would be a temple to Shiva and at the other end, a temple to Vishnu. An example is Vadiveeswaram in Tamil Nadu.

With Brahmins taking up professions in urban areas and some migrating abroad agraharams are vanishing fast. Many of the traditional houses are giving way to concrete structures and commercial buildings.

History[edit]

The earliest existing description of an agraharam has been found in a 3rd-century AD Sangam Age work called Perumpāṇāṟṟuppaṭai.[2]

The houses had in front of them, a shed with short legs to which were tied fat calves; the houses were washed with cowdung and had idols (inside them). Domestic fowl and dogs did not approach them. It was the village of the guardians of the Veda who teach its sounds to the parrots with the bent mouth. If you (bard) reach (the place), fair faced bangled ladies who are as chaste as (Arundhathi) the little star which shines in the north of the bright, broad sky, will after sunset feed you on the well-cooked rice named after the bird (explained by the commentator as the rice called irasanam) along with slices of citron boiled in butter taken, from the buttermilk derived from red cows and scented with the leaves of the karuvembu, and mixed with pepper-powder, and the sweet-smelling tender fruit plucked from the tall mango tree and pickled[2]

Places with the name Agraharam or Agrahara[edit]

Andhra Pradesh[edit]

There are a number of places in Andhra pradesh named agraharam. These places might have, probably, originated as Bramhin villages.

  • Agraharam, Kanuru, in Peravali mandal of West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh state, India
  • Agraharam, Siddavaram, in Porumamilla mandal of Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh state, India

Karnataka[edit]

There are a number of places in Southern Karnataka named agrahara. These places might have, probably, originated as Brahmin villages.

Tamil Nadu[edit]

Kerala[edit]

  • There is a famous Agraharam in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala called Valiya Sala which is the lengthiest Agraharam in India.
  • Kalpathi in Palakkad is another famous collection of agraharams.
  • There are two main cluster Agraharams in Kottakkakam (Fort) and Karamana in Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala State, India. The cluster in Fort is a string of several streets outside the four entrances of the Temple of the presiding deity of Thiruvananthapuram i.e. Sri Padmanabha Swami (Mahavishnu reclining on a serpent floating on ocean (Ksheerasaagaram). South Street, West Street, Ramaswami Kovil Street(North entrance), Pazhavangadi Street(East entrance), Thamman Street, First Puthen Street, Second Puthen Street, Third Puthen Street, Deekshidar Street, Edachery Kotta Street, Chottupura Street, Otta Street etc. are the main Agraharams in Fort cluster. Similarly there are several streets in Karamana Agraharam cluster also.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ P. 266 Precolonial India in Practice : Society, Region, and Identity in Medieval Andhra: Society, Region, and Identity in Medieval Andhra By Austin Cynthia Talbot Assistant Professor of History and Asian Studies University of Texas
  2. ^ a b P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar (1929). History of the Tamils from the Earliest Times to 600 A. D. pp. 388–389. 

External links[edit]