Sunday, March 6, 2011



 A view of  SriMukhalingam temple complex from outside.
The principal temple is @ the centre of the photograph.

It was 17/2/11. Ruby and I , accompanied by our friend Mr Netaji Rao, were standing in front of the main temple - a temple complex to be more precise - at SriMukhalingam. It is 7 months 24 days after I came face-to-face with the ithyphallic Nataraj of Ann Mary Gaston's book on Schwarzman Public Library in New York !  No doubt I felt great , somewhat overwhelmed - having made the pilgrimage planned in June/July,2010.

 Nataraj and Gajasura SanharaMurty on top of the west side (service) door
of the principal temple. These are the wall-reliefs in Mary Ann Gaston's book
which influenced my decision to visit SriMukhalingam.

The main temple was built according to a planned theme .The gates have men in huddles, couples , soldiers, gods , 'dwarpals'  and carvings on vertical walls - quite feminine. But the temple - its architecture, the wall-reliefs framed in bulbous shapes with phallus-like shapes pointing upwards, Siva in ithyphallic-Bhairava and ithyphallic-Nataraj manifestations, Shakti killing demons relentlessly, not one Uma-Maheswar among the wall-reliefs of the main temple - the theme is that of valour, victory over the 'Enemy'. I felt - the theme is 'macho', overtly masculine -  in spite of strong presence of  'MahishasuraMardini'.

Through the second door, one can  view the main door of
the principal temple. Both are ornate with reliefs and carvings - in contrast 
to the 'style' of the principal temple.

Abstract design on the wall of the principal temple.
Is it not an artistic interpretation of SivaLinga - the divine phallus?

I would like to emphasise here that Siva in SriMukhalingam's main temple was visualised neither as ascetic nor erotic ( recall the title of the book on Siva by Wendy O'Flaherty )., but as the destroyer of the 'Enemy'.He kills Gajasura, celebrates His victory over Andhakasura in the company of Chandika and Her warring companions , dances 'tandava' . The walls here are adorned with MahishasuraMardini,Virbhadra, Kartikeya, Bhairava and Indra.Later on, as  smaller temples have sprung up - among the additions, there is a Parvati temple  and at least two wall-reliefs depicting Uma-Maheswar ( photos in Part II of this blog ).

Siva, in His fiercest form, fangs out, ithyphallic. He has vanquished Andhakasura,
who lies trampled at His feet.  Chandika and Matrika who supported Him in this battle
 are standing by His sides.The pillars on the two sides are adorned with peacock and lotus motifs.

 Siva ( depicted again as Bhairava,with His fangs out), ithyphallic, guides the Ganges into
His matted hair. Bhagirath  kneels down on His right side and 
the Ganges flow out on His left on Her 'Makara'.
Postures of the two wall reliefs placed side-by-side, very much comparable.

Strange that the priests decided to have this Ganesha clothed !

Not much is there in the web-pages about this temple. According to Wikipedia, the temple was  built by Kamarnava II of Eastern Ganga dynasty of   Kalinga in 8th century AD. Quite a temple he  got built ! The big court-yard now has several medium and small-sized temples dedicated to Siva and one  as mentioned earlier,is exclusively devoted to Parvati.

This  gesticulating  priest  is standing beside the smallest temple in this court yard.

Kartikeya , the commander-in-chief of gods,slayer of Tarakasura,
 stares on from the northern wall of the principal temple.

I did miss out a lot during our visit since I could not communicate with the priests . My friend Mr  Netaji Rao, helped me a lot. But, I did not use his services as a interpretor - may be it  was not a good decision. Like, among the wall-reliefs of the Western wall, where one finds Nataraj,Virbhadra, GajasuraSanharaMurty, one can see a Ganesha clad in clothes. I was curious - if he was ithyphallic, if approached, the priests would allow  to take a photo of the Ganesha sans the cover put on by the priests - but, I restrained myself. Such attempts are sometimes  taken as  attempt of vilification and disliked by the priests.
 'Naga sannyasi' (naked hermits) of 8th/9th century AD.

This gate is clearly very different from the principal temple.It has none of the phallus-shaped
motifs of the principal temple or masculine figures of war-gods. A very 'feminine' gate.
Many 'Mithuna' couples decorate the facade.

I plan to cover the temples  at SriMukhalingam in four parts -
  • The principal temple.
  • The satellite temples around.
  • Bheemeswara temple and
  • Someswara temple.

This means a lot of photo-editing and uploading. This task will take some time, because I intend to write on our visits to Hampi, Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal.I request the readers of these blogs to leave their feed-backs in the 'Comments' section.

  Mr Netaji Rao , our friend in SriKakulam and Ruby. Mr Rao took a lot
of interest in showing us around.Our heartfelt thanks to him !

1 comment:

injamaven said...

This is a big help to me. I was fascinated by the way the murthis there were carved when I was there 12/99