Koorma worshiping Shiva

Vishnu as Kurma and Shivalingam

This is a rare sculpture of Vishnu as koorma (tortoise) avatara worshiping a shiva lingam. On a pillar in the 16-pillared mandapam in front of Ekambareswara Temple Gopuram, Kanchipuram. The mandapam has several other sculptures on the pillars but indifferent upkeep with haphazard steel structures and flex posters mar the beauty.

Dvarapalakas of Talekadu

Dvarapalakas literally mean ‘Guardians at the Gate’ . Most Hindu temples have the images of dvarapalakas at the entrance. They have a lot of common features, but there are some special features based on the presiding deity, the local practices and the Agamas. For example, the dvarapalakas in a Shiva temple will usually have trishul, damru, gada, etc.

These dwarapalkas in Vydeeswara Temple, Talakadu have the usual features and in addition, they have torsos shaped like a Nandi. This is unique and I have not seen this anywhere else.

The Vydheeswara Temple is located in Talekadu (or Talekad) in Karnatake. It is beleived to have been built by the Ganga Dynasty in the 10th Century.

There is also a story of the Curse of Talekadu. More about it later.

Rare Ganapathi

Shree Shiva Shakthi Vinayagar at Sivapraksham St.

On the Shree Shiva Shakthi Vinayagar koil gopuram at Sivapraksham St.

I had shared my album of post budget Pondy Bazaar with the IIMA- Chennai group. One of the alumni Mr Srikant pointed out that this Pillayar has a Shanku and Chakram, normally associated with Vishnu. Only after his response, I noticed this uniqueness.

I have no idea about how Pillayar came to have the Sangu and chakram, but I am aware that the masons and sculptors of gopurams take liberties with the terracotta or stucco figures that go on the gopuram, often deviating from the accepted norms of iconography.  If anybody has any other explanation, please do share it with the readers of this blog.

Miracle at Avinashi

The boy and the crocodile

The boy and the crocodile

Sundaramurthy Nayanar was an eighth-century poet-saint and one of the most important Nayanars.

He is believed to have performed many miracles thanks to his great devotion to Shiva.

The Northern face of the gopuram at Kapali temple depicts one such miracle. During his journey through Kongu Nadu, he was informed about an eight-year-old boy who was swallowed by a crocodile at Avinashi (near Coimbatore). Using his divine powers Sundarar resurrected the boy, to the amazement of all. This event is commemorated every year as “Mudalai vaay pillai utsavam” on Panguni Uthram at the Avinashishwarar temple, Avinashi.

Marble Mahishasuramardhini

Mahishasuramardhini painted marble

Mahishasuramardhini painted marble

Mahishasuramardhini is another recurring theme in my posts.

Here, the medium is unique- painted marble.

18th Century CE from Jaipur Rajasthan. Exhibited at the Indian Museum Kolkata.

Ten-armed Durga is riding a lion as she slays the demon Mahisha. She is flanked by Ganesha and Kartikeya, which I found to be unique again. One of the other two female figures could be Saraswathi. The arch is embellished with paintings of the Durga legends. It is topped by a figure on a buffalo.

Next, we may see an ivory Durga.


Submission of Naga King Apalala

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Submission of Naga King Apalala, ca 2nd C.CE, Loriyan Tangai

Submission of Naga King Apalala, ca 2nd C.CE, Loriyan Tangai

A relief from Loriyan Tangai region of Pakistan at the Indian Museum Kolkata.

The legend: In the Swat river of the Gandhara Kingdom, there was a naga king called Apalala. He used to harass the local residents and they, in turn, offered him a tribute to stop harassing them. Once when the tributes started dwindling, Apalala was furious and turned himself into a Dragon. He threatened to invoke floods in the Swat river and annihilate the community. At that time Buddha with Vajrapani was visiting that area to propagate his thoughts. Vajrapani used the weapon Vajra (lightning)  to bring down the mountain and subdue Apalala. Apalala submitted to Buddha and converted to Buddhism.

It was interesting to come across an article in Dawn (Pakistan) about the archaeological department invoking a slightly different version of this legend in the context of floods in the Swat valley. See story: https://www.dawn.com/news/563030


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.