Heard of this term? This word may be used in many places. But my article focusses on the south indian village where Brahmins use to live. The entire street is called by this name - agrahAram.
I have not visited many villages, but of course a few in the places in and around kumbakOnam or mayilAduthurai. All the agrahAram in these places will be having an identical structure.
There will be houses on both the sides of the street. Usually the houses will be facing north and south directions. In some villages like AnandatAndavapuram there are east and west facing houses in addition to south facing houses.
There will be a Vinayaka temple in the east. This is optional. But mandatory is a PerumAl (vishnu) temple in the west and a temple for Lord Shiva in the north west (also called as sani moolai or the corner for saturn). Presence of Shiva temple in the north west direction gives prosperity.
I have spent most of the vacation times during my school days at a place called "tEdiyUr" which is my mother's native. It is situated at 22km to the east of Kumbakonam. There are direct buses as well as route buses (from kumbakOnam to mayilAduthurai via a place called poonthOttam). It is a beautiful village. One can feel relived if they just have a look over the agrahAram roads.
A distributory of the river kAvEri, by the name Arasal aaru (history of this river is explained in my blog about "Sri Abheeshta varadaraja Perumal" at the following link - here flows in the northern side of the village. Around this river there are gardens flourishing with mango trees and coconut trees.
Near this river there is a shiva temple - popularly called "aathaangarai kovil". This is in the north western corner of the village. Closer to the temple there is a samAdhi of two saints who have lived in the village before several years. Between the river and the agrahAram runs the national highway through which buses to this village runs. Now a days one can find several shops on either sides of the road.
Coming to the agrahAram, there are three streets - east street (keezha theru), middle street (nadu theru) and west street (mEla theru). In the eastern side there is a varasiddhi vinayakar temple. It is a small temple. Poojaas are performed to the lord twice a day by a priest who resides in the agrahAram. In the north western end of the east street there is meenAkshi sundarEswarar temple dedicated to lord shivA. There is a tank associated with this temple, situated on the other side of the main road.
Houses in the East and middle street are north south facing. Coming to the west street, where the houses are east west facing, there is a vishnu temple (sri bhoomi neelA dEvi sametha Varadaraja PerumAl) at the centre. Further to the right side of the temple in the south western direction there is another vishnu temple called "karugamAnicka perumAl" temple.
There is a middle school in the east street of the agrahAram. It was built by a noble man, kanchi paramAchArya bhaktha Vanchi Iyer prior to Indian independence and now its a government aided school - sri sankara middle school. The school is offering education to all for a nominal fee. Indeed a service.
Moving a little apart from the agrahAram there comes the lands where paddy is grown. One can reach that place by moving along the path adjacent to the school mentioned above. There is another shiva temple - "prathyaksha parameswarar" temple, also called as the big temple in the village. This temple also has a tank associated with it in its proximity.
There are other temples - AyyanAr temple (at the outer limits of the village. That place is called "manavAlanallur"), mAriyamman temple, selliamman temple (near the agricultural lands, who is none other than chAmundi, a form of goddess Durga who killed chanda mundAsuras and is belived to protect the farms). These deities who are placed at the outer limits are believed to guard the village. They are also called as kAval deivam or the protecting God.
If summer vacation starts, the school will be closed. But our grand pa who is the correspondent of the school has the key and we will use the school ground to do all sort of activities. Some use to play cricket, some use to learn cycling and some others will play some domestic games like pallAnkuzhi or sOzhi or kallAngAi(play comprising of catching 4 stones in a particular order) etc. We will forget food, sleep and only if our mothers or other elders in our home comes to school to drag us to home, we will descend down to Earth. Till then we will be separated from this materialistic world and will be ruling our own world.
Those are the times that can never be forgotten and will be ever in our minds without fading. Wish to go back to that stage. But.......