The Five Elements

The greatest creative inspiration for me are my Indian roots and heritage. I want to do projects this year that further explore the cultural and artistic diversity of India. Starting this journey on a spiritual note seems pretty auspicious. Nothing could be more auspicious and spiritual than temples, especially ancient ones with abundant powerful energy.

Last year, my Dad and I visited these exact temples in South India. The prime focus of the journey were the Five Element temples, also known as Pancha Bhoota Stalam all devoted to Lord Shiva. At these temples, Lord Shiva is worshiped as a manifestation of the five prime elements of nature. All these temples are over a thousand years old. So, pictures will speak louder than words.

  • Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh
  • Air, Vayu Lingam – Sri Kalahastheeswara Temple in Kalahasthi, Andhra Pradesh
  • Earth, Prithivi Lingam – Ekambareswarar Temple in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu
  • Sri Kamakshi Temple in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu


  • Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu


  • Fire, Agni Lingam – Arunachaleswara Temple in Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu



  • Sky or Ether, Akasha Lingam – Thillai Natarajah Temple in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu







  • Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple on Srirangam Island in the city of Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu



  • Water, Jambu Lingam – Jambukeshwarar Temple in Thiruvanaikaval, Tamil Nadu


One very cute attribute is that there is a resident elephant in each temple that is very well taken care of and blesses those with a pure heart and good grace.


Also, there is a traditional form of temple art called alpana. The motifs are usually a circular and symmetrical design similar conceptually to a mandala. I found this art present at every temple, each unique and extraordinarily beautiful.

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