Friday, March 16, 2012



NOTE OF WARNING -  Those who are below 18 years  OR dislike discussions on 'erotic' work of art in Hindu temples are requested to stay away from this Blog.

Her eyes closed with pleasure,
her lips open for breath, 
her breast pressing his - 
  'KAMA' Eternal -  frozen in stone.

Swarna Jaleswar temple, Bhubaneswar.

Writing , and more importantly, publishing photos on erotic wall-reliefs of  temples of Bhubaneswar as well as Sun-temple of Konark is a delicate job. The 'creators' of these wall-reliefs and sculpture were very clear  in their intention and very explicit in depiction. The range of  emotions that play between a man and woman when engulfed by 'kama' has been put on the walls of these temples  is immense ! It is upto us , viewers of 21st century to decide which ones  are refined and which ones are to be labelled vulgar.
The  Arousal - Moments of the 'Eros' 
Raja-Rani temple, Bhubaneswar

The  Arousal - Moments of the 'Eros' 
Brahmeswar temple, Bhubaneswar

Is there an uneasiness over the 'erotic' sculptures among the people who manage the famous temples of Bhubaneswar ?  Strange that photography  is not allowed in certain temples which have no uncommon 'erotic' sculpture compared to those in Sun temple @ Konark or the famous ones @ Khajuraho. This inexplicable attitude  deny world viewers of the exquisite 'mithunamurti' of Lingaraja temple or  'Muralidhar' of Puri temple !

Dance of 'KAMA'
Raja-Rani temple, Bhubaneswar

It is clear to all of us who have visited India's temples, viewed collections of paintings in our museums, gone through  coffee table books and internet sites on Indian temple art , the attitude towards dress-code and act of coitus during the past two millenniums was far different from that of present day. I recollect when I was young, a group of pilgrims from my family whom I accompanied, skipped Konark from their itinerary because two of us among the group were  considered  too young to be exposed to the sexually-oriented wall-reliefs of this Sun temple. I believe that in 13th century AD, no such filtration was in practice. Were young and adult-members of the same family admiring the wall-relief below at the same time ?

 Woman reaches below man's dress  & seeks out his  phallus . 
He reciprocates by fondling woman's breast.
'Nagas' and other women around this couple stay aloof !!

Many  scholars have viewed and presented the erotic art of Indian temples  in ways more than one. I have gone through some of them, but, here I share a view of my observations.

 A few wall-reliefs  tell the viewer  of a moment of closeness - attraction, aversion as well as ecstasy. The rainbow of emotions and their manifestations in the body language !Yet others tell a stories through a series.Here are a few examples , but, not a whole series !  Quite a few of the 'stories' are difficult one - I have not mentioned the names of the temples to avoid controversy. And ... I  avoided posting photos of  wall-reliefs where just copulation has been depicted.

Man with matted hair - 'starving' pilgrimage-returned  -
forces woman  clinging to her child into submission  !

 At the end, I shall repeat what I said in another blog - the leaders of the then society believed that the subjects of the state must multiply - they did not guess one day India would groan under 120 crores population. The temples gave them impetus for engaging into the process of  creation.

Ecstasy & (Pro)creation
Man supports  woman on his palms and stays engaged in a near-impossible pelvic posture below the Tree of Life
Wall-sculpture,Konark temple (illuminated in the evening)

I believe a photofeature  has a limit - lots of text and photos make a blog heavy and perhaps uninteresting.Therefore,  i shall continue this writing on this subject in another blog, but, would like to write on Baital temple before the next part on erotic art.

Friday, March 9, 2012



Firmly bricked in the earth 
Stands the mould, fired from clay. 
Today the bell shall be. 
Quickly, workers, be at hand. 
   From the forehead hot 
   The sweat must run, 
If the creation shall praise the master,
But the blessing comes from on-high.
                                                     - Song of the Bell
                                                            Friedrich von Schiller

( May I request the viewer to kindly click on the photo of the chariot and view it full-size to appreciate the spread of the chariot, a fraction of which is captured here.)

Front-side of Sun-temple.
We can see 3 of the 12 pairs of wheels which drive the god's chariot.
Among the 4 horses in this side,  hardly 2 remain.
( far right-hand top of this photo)

Is this how the Sun temple complex look like ?
Source - ASI Museum,Konark.

We have visited Konark's Sun temple twice earlier  - this visit in February, 2012 brought glimpses of  inner character of this temple to the fore. Looking back, it seems that we did not spend enough time earlier in this temple. During this visit, we  walked into the  compound before the scheduled sunrise hour when a pail of mist was hanging on the top of the Jagamohan ( . After a couple of hours, sun light kissed the temple and we continued here till the mid-day, clicking to our hearts' content. We returned before the sunset and went around , climbed up and down till we were exhausted. The huge Jagomohan, lit up with amber and blue lights, appeared  to be hanging from darkness of the the sky .

  128' high Jagomohan rises beyond the roofless Bhoga-Mandapa.

Who is the rider of this lion trampling an elephant ?
 Is he the 'Langula' King ?

We did not go to Konark very well-prepared  - that was a mistake. But, we visited the local Museum which we did not cover in our earlier visits.Thus, it was one mistake less.I would say our experience and photos and my subsequent browsing helped me to love this majestic piece of architecture a lot more than earlier times. I mostly keep out my own emotion out of the text of my blogs - but not in this one.

 'Poosha' - morning Sun, as viewed from the ground level.  
This chlorite statue adorns the east-wall of the broken deul.
ASI  has placed the statue in such a way that a full view 
is impossible from any level.(*2)

 The first impact is that of its enormity . What remains of this  majestic structure is amazing. Konark's deul, which has been lost  was taller than the tallest of the 'Gopurams' of Meenakshi temple, Madurai,more than double of Chittorgarh's Vijayastambha and less than 10' shorter than its  another near-contemporary   world-famous  Indian architecture - Qutab Minar.(*1)

Mythical elephant with lion's claws tramples a soldier 
equipped with a shield and sword !

Though   Sun temple of Konark draw a lot of attention for its erotic wall-reliefs, what impressed me most among the wall-reliefs and sculptures are the war stallions and the elephants.  I was impressed by these sculptures during my earlier visits too.  I read a comparison between these war stallions and that of  the statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni. The war stallion of  Colleoni  (Venice, Italy) is famous , but apart from the  exposure, in artistic merit, are not the stallions of Konark   superior to that of  Colleni's statue ?

   Awe-inspiring  heavily decorated war stallion.
Surely a dear one of the Monarch among the prized collection  
of Kalinga kingdom.

When king Langula Narasimhadeva I  planned this temple , he had quite a few points in his mind .First is its enormity - both height and size - his temple had to be among the tallest among the existing monuments.   An interesting calculation would be estimate cubic feet of stones used  in various monuments and compare. Well - I find no such data available. Secondly, he conveyed a message  to Buddhists through lions overpowering elephants. Was his enormous wheels of Sun's chariot a score over Ashoka's 'Dharmachakra' ?

 The Divine Wheel of Time - 'Kaal Chakra' - rolls among the daily activities - procreation,survival and annihilation - of  human society.

The third point  - in my opinion - was his message to his subjects - they must multiply to tackle the military pressure against Kalinga. Kalinga had suffered a huge population depletion at the hand of Ashoka. Thereafter, there was no peace. During the rule of King Anantavarman , the founder of  Ganga dynasty to which Narasimhadeva belonged, Kalinga suffered a huge thrashing from the Cholas though the royalties of these two states were closely related. Narasimhadeva I was engaged in battles with Muslims of Bengal. A famous religious leader allowed  menfolks among his followers to practice polygamy  and encouraged widows' marriage to tackle loss of able-bodied male members of the society. I wonder if the King of Kalinga encouraged  his subjects   to be more sexually active with propagation and multiplication  in mind! Here, the message was not only to young,virile  and family-men , but also to those were not so  young and those who were out traditional family set-up.

Dance of life
A  beautiful pillar of Bhoga- Mandapa

 I shall continue my presentation on Sun temple of Konark in coming blogs. The chronicle of royal life,  deities, dancers  and musicians , mythical animals and the 'grotesque' and 'acts of love'  - I would like to share the memories we have brought with us.

1. Sun temple : Height - 229'. Completion  around 1253-60 AD,
Qutub Minar - Height - 237.8'. Commencement   around 1194 AD, repaired by Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351-88 AD) and Sikandar Lodi ( 1489-1517 AD).
2.  Among all the idols discovered from this temple site, 3 - all of Sun god - have  been retained. Rest are in Delhi. There are conflicting claims regarding the  main idol . But, it is confirmed that these sculptures were placed originally on the side-walls of the deul.

Thursday, March 1, 2012



 Jump with joy!

 No visitor to Bhubaneswar with a camera will miss this spot !
On the right, a stair-case goes upto the platform which allows a view of
Lingaraj temple and its court-yard. 
Photography of the temples inside is allowed only from this platform !
The door ahead to the temple complex is closed to movement.

I am motivated now by two comments I read in a gap of two days :
  • A young  bro-in-law of mine posted a clutch of  excellent photographs in FB after a  trip to Jodhpur/Jaisalmer. One of his ' commented : 'ariiiiii....manush kothai???' That 'Oh .... why not a soul in your photos ??'
  • In a string of e-mail, one friend of mine has asked another : 'Have not you taken photos of your train-journey, scenery from train's window, tea-shops etc ?' 
 Four young men were hooked to a 'naughty' wall-relief @ Konark temple. 
As I focused my camera, two of this group moved away while 
the other two were too engrossed to notice me. 
Anyone is curious about this wall-relief being 'captured' in a phone-camera ?
Earlier, I have not ever thought that in a trip to cover wonders of our architecture , I need add to my folio photos of the passing scenery. Ruby, if she accompanied me and had a loaded camera handy, would 'fire' away during journeys. During writing or internal presentations,I have often used  photos from her albums which had another perspective.

 A small temple built in the water-body opposite the compound dedicated to 64-Yoginis temple.
Do you notice the small black bird resting atop the same ?
Hirapur ( near Bhubaneswar) , Orissa. 

Mothers and daughters.
Udaygiri, Bhubaneswar.

Gradually, I have also learnt to pick-up a few scenes while focusing on wall-reliefs.Here, I have selected six photos  from my Orissa trip - none of a temple per se -  to put my record straight.

Amidst the beauties in stone @ Konark temple.
 Fat torsos, slim legs - Does this photographer ( face blurred ) have a choice ?