wooden chariot of Srirangapatnam

wooden chariot of Srirangapatnam

In ancient Hindu temples, you can find exquisite carvings not only on the temple walls and pillars but also on the temple chariots. Though these are in wood and of more recent vintage, the beauty of the carvings cannot be ignored.

The above dasavathara depiction on the temple chariot (ther) is from the Sree Ranganatha temple at Srirangapatnam.

One can clearly see Matsya, kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parasurama, Srirama, Balarama, & Krishna.


Darpana Sundari – Belur

Darpana sundari in soapstone in Belur

Darpana sundari in soapstone in Belur

The 11th Century Chennakesava temple build by the Hosalas have some exquisite sculptures in soapstone. the most iconic of them all is the Darpana Sundari – the beauty with the mirror.

Neminatha statue

Monolithic Neminatha statue

Monolithic Neminatha statue

The Thirumalai Jain Complex in Tamil Nadu consists of Jain temples and caves built/carved on or after 9th century CE. The most prominent feature here is the 30 ft tall (?) monolithic statue of Neminath believed to be carved in the 9th century.

Thirumalai is situated in Thiruvannamalai st. of Tamil Nadu. The nearest town is Arani.

the hill on which the Jain complex is situated

The hill on which the Jain complex is situated

Standing Nandi

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caption id=”attachment_661″ align=”alignnone” width=”1259″]Standing Nandi at Baijnath temple, Himachal Pradesh Standing Nandi at Baijnath temple, Himachal Pradesh[/caption]

Nandi, Shiva’s vaahana is invariably depicted in sitting posture in all South Indian Siva temples. e.g. see my blog on Lepakshi.

However, in the Baijnath Temple in the Kangra district of  Himachal Pradesh the Nandi is in standing posture. This temple is about 8 or 9 centuries old and houses a Swayambhu linga. It is situated on the banks of river Binwa with a breathtaking view of the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas.

Another curious feature was the image of man hanging from the Nandi’s tail. I searched the web to find the story behind this but could not find any lead.

Nandi's tail

Nandi’s tail

In this temple, you are required to leave outside all leather items, including bags, belts, etc. beside footwear.

Kaliya Mardanam

Kaliya mardanam

Kaliya mardanam

A golu doll on sale on the streets of Mylapore.

Krishna dancing on the heads of Kaliya – the venomous king who was poisoning the natural resources and inhabitants of Vrindavan.

Unique Ganapathy



This is neither a Narthana Ganapathi nor an Uchishta Ganapathy. Seems to be a combination of the two.

Can anyone clarify?

From Madambakkam Sri Dhenupureeswarar temple, near Tambaram.


Nalagiri – Jataka Tales

Taming of Nalagiri - Amravati Gallery

Taming of Nalagiri – Amravati Gallery

The subjugation of  Nalagiri

The Amravati Gallery in Government Museum, Egmore has several pieces of art from Amravati. Most of these are sculpted on a variety of marble like limestone.

One of the important sculpture here is a medallion depicting the scene if subjugation of the elephant Nalagiri.

The Nalagiri jataka goes something like this:

Buddha’s cousin Devadatta also joins the Sangha and becomes influential.  He also acquires some supernatural powers. However, he becomes jealous of Buddha and his popularity. He wins over some elements with his supernatural powers and tries in several ways to kill Buddha. He is unsuccessful in all attempts.

Finally, he persuades the royal elephant keepers to get the fierce elephant Nalapada (also known as Dhanapala) drunk with intoxicants and sent out to the marketplace where Buddha is expected.

Seeing the enraged pachyderm, people run helter-skelter. Even those watching from the balcony are worried.  In the melee, a woman drops her baby near Buddha’s feet. As Nalagiri is about to trample the baby and charge at Buddha, he does not lose his composure. Instead, he touches the forehead of the elephant and gently strokes it. Nalagiri not only becomes calm but seems to be completely subdued. It bows before the Buddha. Buddha delivers a sermon on dhamma to it.

The two-and-a-half foot diameter medallion from Amravati exhibited at the Madras Museum in Egmore clearly depicts the charging Nalagiri and the subdued Nalagiri. The crowd is terrified while Buddha and his disciple (Ananda?) are composed.     The details of the people in the balcony are also clearly visible. (View full size for better details)


Circa 200 C.E.


Madras Museum, Egmore

Excuse the poor quality of the photograph.