Annamalaiyar Temple – Sixth Prakaram – Peigopuram
The Western tower is called Peigopuram, which is merely an aberration. As its name erroneously indicates, there is neither ghost nor devil in it. It was actually Melgopura or Mela gopuram which means the western tower. The tower was also called Periya gopuram before the other towers were built. But as years passed, this name got corrupted into Peigopuram.
One belief is that name of this Gopura is a corruption of Melgopura (i.e. West Tower). However others speculate that the name of the Gopura i.e. Pey (demon, ghost) has occurred not by mistake or misrepresentation. That in fact the Tower’s name is significant in that it represents the wild, uncultivated aspects of the Mountain’s west side as opposed to the cultivated area.
The Pey Gopura has seven storeys and is 144 feet in height. According to an inscription dated 1388 A.D., the base of the tower was constructed by King Ballala III and the spire about 1516 A.D. by King Krishnadevaraya. The base is much like that of the eastern gopuram. The lotus projections of its corbels are more prominent. It suggests that it was the last gopuram of this court to be constructed.
The vase ornaments are surrounded by a pair of corbels only, the median being absent. The spire of this gopuram is the first addition which Krishnadevaraya would have taken in hand when he started work on this temple. Its vertical lines of pavilion ornaments above the niches on the base are of rectangular type. On either side of these are lines of the square type of pavilion ornament with niches of the narrow and slit like type of characteristic of Vijayanagar period. The brick work suggests that it must have been with the window ornaments of the pavilion roofs comparatively small and the style generally restrained and severe.
Its base is similar to that of the Raja Gopura on the east. The bases of all the four outer Gopurams are ascribed to Krishnadevaraya. All the niches of this base are narrow and empty. The spire is said to have been built in 1740 A.D. The Dvarapalakas are taller than the windows they stand beside and are present on each storey from bottom to top.