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Welcome to the Instagram blog! See how Instagrammers are capturing and sharing the world's moments through photo and video features, user spotlights, tips and news from Instagram HQ.

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Photography, Architecture, Art, history, india, hindu temple, meenakshi amman, Location Feature, Instagram,

Exploring the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai, India

For more photos and videos from the temple, browse the #Meenakshi hashtag and explore the Meenakshi Amman Temple location page.

In the center of Madurai, the oldest city in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu, the Meenakshi Amman Temple stands as a mythological and architectural symbol of the region. Initially founded in ancient times and rebuilt to reflect urban planning methods around the 17th century, the Hindu temple is dedicated to the legendary Goddess Meenakshi and her husband Lord Sundareswara (also known as Parvati and Shiva).

The 18 hectare (45 acre) temple complex consists of 12 pyramid-shaped gopurams, or traditional gateway towers, which measure as tall as 50 meters (164 feet) in height. These towers are erected along the outer and inner walls of the temple and are decorated with thousands of carved figures from roof to the floor, each representing gods, demons, heroes and animals appearing in Hindu myths. Other attractions of the premises include shrines for Meenakshi and Sundareswarar, magnificent hallways and the Golden Lotus Temple tank. The temple is home to around 50 priests and a number of annual Hindu festivals, making it an active place of worship as well as a major tourist attraction of Southern India.

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photography, music, vintage, history, Elvis, Elvis Week, Graceland, User Feature, current events, Instagram,

Paying Tribute to “The King” During Elvis Week

To see more moments from the life of an Elvis tribute artist, follow @deanzaselvis on Instagram. To watch Elvis Week events as they unfold, explore the Graceland location page.

“I like to say that my job description is singing the greatest music ever created and making people happy in the process,” says Elvis tribute artist Dean Zeligman (@deanzaselvis), who makes his living performing as Elvis across the globe. This time last year, Dean beat out more than 500 other artists to take top honors at Graceland’s (@visitgraceland), Elvis Week competition.

There’s more to being an Elvis tribute artist than one might expect. “We must make the unnatural natural,” explains Dean. “His movements and mannerisms must be as natural to us as our own. I studied theatrical makeup to match his facial features, recreated all of his stage wear and even his casual clothes. Nothing is done half-heartedly.”

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Photography, landscape, history, Architecture, maryland, thomas point shoal lighthouse, national lighthouse day, lighthouse, chesapeake bay, Location Feature, Instagram,

Keeping Watch above the Waves at the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse

For more photos and videos from the lighthouse, explore the Thomas Point Lighthouse and Thomas Point Lighthouse, Chesapeake Bay location pages.

Off the coast of Maryland, the Thomas Point Shoal lighthouse has kept watch over the waters of Chesapeake Bay for nearly 140 years.

Unlike traditional tower lighthouses, the Thomas Point beacon stands a mile and a half (2.4 kilometers) off the shore atop a stilt-like series of metal rods, or screwpiles, that anchor directly into the sandbank. While all other screwpile lighthouses in the nation have either fallen to winter ice floes or been relocated, the Thomas Point lighthouse has survived in its original location, earning it the designation of a National Historic Landmark.

Up until 1986, a succession of men lived in and kept watch from the small six-sided Victorian cottage above the waves, lighting the oil lamp behind the crystal lens and hand-winding the fog bell. Nowadays, the Baltimore Coast Guard maintains the lighthouse from afar, and an automated foghorn and solar-powered lens have taken the place of their human-powered predecessors.

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history, portrait, art, Nelson Mandela, Mandela Day, photography, Instagram,

Paying Tribute to Madiba on Mandela Day

To see more tributes to activist and former South African president Nelson Mandela, explore the #MandelaDay and #Madiba hashtags.

Nelson Mandela was only 33 years old when a speech he gave incited a protest in Durban and first landed him in jail. Over the next 10 years, Mandela would be arrested three more times for his work fighting South Africa’s oppressive apartheid regime until a 1962 conviction for sedition sent him to prison for the next 27 years.

“I was hoping to capture some sense of the hardships he suffered,” retired Johannesburg math lecturer Vivien Budge (@vivbudge) says of the young Mandela portrait she painted, “the anger he must have felt at the injustices he witnessed and the relentless tenacity, determination and courage with which he fought for his beliefs.”

After his release in 1990, Mandela helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa and became the country’s first black democratically elected President. Mandela, who died last December but would have been 96 today, continues to inspire South Africans and others around the world to this day.

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landscape, history, nyc, tugboat, staten island, Instagram, Location Feature,

Capturing a Hauntingly Beautiful Tugboat Graveyard

For more photos and videos from the Tugboat Graveyard, explore the Tugboat Graveyard - Staten Island location page.

The scuttled remains of tugboats, ferries and other maritime vessels rest peacefully in shallow water off the shores of Staten Island in New York City.

The rusting hulks, decrepit frames, creaks and bumps in the Witte Marine Equipment Company scrap yard, known as the “Tugboat Graveyard,” contribute to a hauntingly beautiful industrial landscape hidden in plain sight.

Instagrammers looking to make an off-the-beaten-path field trip just outside of the city center can capture eerie photos of light filtering through decaying structures, jagged reflections and the occasional geese and other wildlife picking their way along the murky shore.

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History,

Thomas Jefferson’s 270th Birthday

For more photos commemorating Thomas Jefferson’s legacy, check out the location pages for his home, Monticello, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) holds a key position in the history of the United States as one of the nation’s Founding Fathers. As the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, the nation’s first Secretary of State, second vice-president and the third president of the United States, his legacy still echoes forward to this day.

During his presidency, Jefferson oversaw the Louisiana Purchase, which expanded the United States by 828,000 square miles (2,144,510 square km). He also commissioned the Lewis and Clark expedition shortly thereafter to explore the newly acquired territory over the course of two years.

In his personal life, Jefferson was also an Enlightenment figure with strong interests in science, invention, architecture, religion and philosophy. These interests led him to found the University of Virginia and design his own plantation mansion, Monticello.