SWASTIK TANK RESEARCH AND DOCUMENTATION
The first project undertaken by CARE-PEP was the task of completing an architectural documentation of Swastik Tank, a ritual tank outside the Pundarikakshan Perumal Temple at Thiruvellarari, a hamlet 23 kms from Trichy. The kshetra is a venerated Vaishnava Divya Desam (Holy site) and this stepped tank was built during the reign of Dantivarman in the year 800 AD. The structure is presently listed monument maintained by the Archaeological Department of Tamilnadu.
The drawings thus made are archived as a record of the cultural heritage of the region for posterity and also to provide useful documented information & drawings for students, visiting researchers & scholars whose research work necessitates going through these archives.
Apart from documentation CARE-PEP also undertook publication of this documentation, in the form of an illustrated booklet, along with further research into the historical, socio-political, religious context that resulted in the architectural manifestation of this water-structure.
The research work tries to place the Hindu ritual of Snana (ritual bathing) in the context of visiting a Sthala (a holy site) for Darshan (viewing the deity) which is one of the valid ways (Bhakti Marga) to attain Moksha (Liberation, usually from the material world).The ritual act of Snana thus necessitates and later manifests as the architectural site of a Temple tank. Such an approach to research is also in line with the priorities of CARE-PEP where architecture is viewed not as an enterprise happening in an abstract space-time but rather as a material expression of a certain culture, which is understood under the holistic framework of People-Environment-Place (PEP framework).