Monday, April 30, 2012



  A view of URBANIA

Hiran Mitra is a person who has dabbled in various departments of  visual art . He has not only 'created' displays of wall-relief like canvasses - as we found in 'URBANIA', he has  designed cover of little magazines, designed sets & props of  stage,  shot films. He has  a distinct style which is said to impress activists of various media !

 Effect of crushed paper on small lights fixed on floor.

We were attracted to this exhibition by a long article in the Sunday edition of 'Pratidin' newspaper.  As  such an article is expected to be, it contained a lot of flowery language - yet a veiled criticism that Hiran Mitra tends to repeat himself. This was our 1sxposure to his work - therefore we found  the collection interesting.

 These paintings on paper stand out among the  display of BASRELIEFs.

A good part of it was Basrelief. Canvass, sand, thermocol, corrugated paper  and  paint. There were quite a few  framed paintings on paper too - bearing his trademark style - quite interesting, very pleasant. He  made floor interesting with  crushed paper on lights and small works of art. It was very clear that he is very concerned and careful of the total presentation.

We found  Hiran Mitra is quite an accessible and affable person. He did not mind us taking photos of his work and display. A gentleman  in kurta-pajama was taking notes very seriously. I was curious to finding out if he was making sketches - tried to engage him in a conversation. He avoided me - I felt like taking a photo of this serious person, but, resisted the urge.

Standing alongside Hiran Mitra.

There was an exhibition of Kalpana Shah on the 1st floor of Birla Academy - the subject is display of  fabric in abstract art form. I thought of taking a few shots - but the watchman asked me not to click as photography of her work is not allowed by KS.

 The only canvass of Kalpana Shah I could click !

Thursday, April 26, 2012



 Our 1st visit for Iconography of terra cotta temples - 
Shyama Raya temple,Bishnupur. December, 2007.

My  efforts in 'studying' Iconography have taken me to so many temples in the last few years a fraction of  which I did not cover during  previous 60 years of my life ! As I was  looking back to these 4-5 years of  visits to  numerous villages and hamlets of West Bengal as well as  tourist spots of other States of India, I  spent some time on  memories and photos of other sides  of these visits.  Here is an attempt to reconstruct a 'journal'  without dates.

  During our early-morning boat-journey along the Ganges to 
Baronagar, Murshidabad. A real-life Hemen Majumdar !
February, 2010.

I did miss a lot of details as I often drove to many villages in WB in our own car. Focusing on driving  used to be uppermost in my  mind.  Over-all, bus-journey through the somewhat barren scenery of north Karnataka while going from Hospet to Badami,  driving round the small range of hillock  at Aihole and the sun-flower dotted agricultural land,  road-bumps scratching my car's exhaust pipe on our way to Sribati, driving through scary road surface from Bishnupur to Bankura in a dark night and a great boat journey along the Ganges from a 'ghat' near Hazarduary Palace to Baronagar in a cold morning have stayed and will stay in my memory for long. Impressive were the tranquility of Ranakpur, mist hovering on the Jagomahana of Konark temple , sunset at Hampi and lit-up Sun temple at Konark.

Painting on a cottage wall -near Sri Sri Madan Jiu's temple, Gaur.

I have found people at these small places I visited quite helpful. In some of the  places, I have benefited by the kindness of people associated with the ASI sites beyond expectation. The priests have , however, been indifferent and rude, except at Ranakpur.

Peacock @ Ranakpur temple's backyard.
At Ranakpur's main temple , restrictions are many. Photography for a fee - quite small though - is allowed inside only upto 5 pm, while light condition is good upto 6.30 pm during the summer. In the evening, no electric light is lit - therefore , one can see little in the darkness. We arrived late and were  shooed out by 5.15 pm . I returned after 7 pm - after 'arati' was over when a young priest and a Security guard showed me around with a torch and a candle and also shared  quite a few 'stories'.

  Details of  ornamentation of a Queen's swing. Junagarh Fort, Bikaner.

The other person who was very patient  with us and enriched our experience at Bikaner was the young student who works as an official guide too at the Palace. He was sober ,well-informed, did not over-dramatise at any juncture, took us to rooms and points where we could take  interesting photos and when finished , we left with a pleasant memory of this visit . We met with such a person at Lakundi too.

  Our young Guide at Junagarh Fort,Bikaner.

And ... here is our young Guide at Lakundi,Karnataka.
 Unpleasant was the priest at Megheswar temple of Bhubaneswar, an young man during train-journey from Hospet to Howrah last year who would not allow me sit down on his lower-berth during day-time though I was allotted the upper one and an auto-rickshaw driver at Bhubaneswar  who delayed us considerably due a broken clutch-wire ,yet  argued with us claiming payment for 3 clutch-wires he purchased and his delay !

  God, King and a bullock-cart-load of cane.

 There were moments when I felt miserable . For example, I felt miserable  at not being able to photograph rare pieces of sculpture at Museum of Badami - I was so upset that I skipped the Museum visit  at Aihole. I felt miserable after repeatedly taking  lousy shots at well lit-up Konark temple, at 'Nandi' stopping a good photo of the ceiling art  at Huchchimalli temple complex, at not being allowed to capture the excellent  work of Lingaraj and Jagannatha temples. Topping everything else was the feeling of being l-o-s-t when I discovered during taking photographs at Papanatha  temple of  Pattadakal that I left my bag containing my new telescopic lens at  Nandi's shrine in front of Virupaksha's temple ! I  almost ran back and found the priest had kept it secured. Not too many negatives !!

  Looking amazed !
Three-headed 'Nandi', a calf and the child !!
It can be anywhere in India. Any time ......

Saturday, April 14, 2012



Wall-relief of Surya on the western wall.
NB - Horses of other two statues of Surya ( much smaller !) 
are not visible because of the way ASI has placed the same.

The statues and wall-reliefs of Konark's Sun temple made of chlorite stone  are famous - but it is not easy to find a lot about the material  in the Internet. For example:
In India, how many temples used this stone ? Again, Internet is not very clear about the details. I found that  the temples in Khiching,Orissa and Halebid , Karnataka have statues made of chlorite stone. I have to get more details about Halebid temple. One point is clear from what we found at Konark - this stone  did deliver the sculptors  very satisfying  and fine finish , which lasted the eroding impact of local environment that caused tremendous damage to other wall-reliefs  and statues made of khondalite stone.

 View of  chlorite statues on the Jagomahana on the northern wall.

 At Konark temple, all the statues and wall-reliefs  in Chlorite stone do not adorn the temple any more. Several statues are in National Museum, New Delhi. Yet others - wall-reliefs par excellence -  are housed in the neighbouring museum. What a visitor can find here are :
  1. Three huge  statues of Surya mounted on the remaining portion of the 'deul' as wall-reliefs !
  2. A huge door-frame to the now-inaccessible Jagomohana.
  3. A pair of  four-headed Vairava  in dance posture at a height on four sides of Jagomohana.
  4. Three/four musicians at the same level these statues of Vairava on four sides of Jagomohana.
  5. Yet  four musicians at a level higher than these statues of Vairava on four sides of Jagomohana.

 Top - Two Vairava made of chlorite stone on the eastern wall. 
Below - A bigger view of  LH side Martanda Vairava.

 A serious visitor will definitely pay a visit to the local museum to savour a beautiful collection from the ruins of  this temple . S/he can have glimpse of photos of what all have been shifted away to New Delhi. This way, a good number of 'beauties' are lost to the visitor of this temple - but, those on the higher elevation should not be missed. That is, however, easier said than done. To the naked eyes at the ground level, statues of Vairava and musicians will not make much impact. The visitor may preferably be equipped with a   binocular or a telephoto lens.

Four musicians - in animated  postures of dance.

 What is chlorite stone ? According to, 'Chlorite is a name used for a group of sheet silicate minerals with similar properties. They are primarily found in weakly metamorphosed rock and form  the alteration of clay-rich sedimentary rocks and from alteration of pyroxenes, amphiboles and micas. They are also found in some sediments '. Regarding the chemical composition, we are told it has the following ' generalized formula: (Mg,Fe)3(Si,Al)4O10(OH)2.(Mg,Fe)3(OH)6 ' and we are further informed that ' Many solid solution possibilities exist with the ' chlorite' composition, each producing a specimen with slightly varying properties'. This stone has got its name from the Greek 'chloros' for green with reference to its colour. In 1798 AD, A.G.Werner has named this stone and others in its group 'chlorite'. ( Reference : .

Does anyone know what was the 'desi' name of this stone - what King Langula  Narasinghadeva and his artisans used to call this stone  when the raw material was ordered  and subsequently crafted intoexquisite  statues ? Perhaps there were several nomenclatures - both formal as well as  colloquial ! I have not so far been able to locate either.

Top - RH side of the door frame of Jagomohana. 
Bottom - Details of the LH end of the frame.

The above-referred internet site  mention chlorite has several spiritual uses too,e.g.,
'Chlorite is used to stimulate the state of inspiration and to further actualization/manifestation.
Said to heal the void after implant removal.
Use this crystal to promote a deep meditation.
Helps you emotionally and mentally accept your physical self.
Chlorite is used to cleanse the aura and Chakras.
Dissipates anger.'
 It is said to have power of physical healing too - but, that is beyond the scope of this blog. Anyone interested for more details may please refer to the link mentioned above .

Top - A view of the Jagomohana beyond the mid-day Surya. 
Bottom - Bust of Poosha, the morning Surya. 
Part of RH lotus survived  vandalism & erosion.
 NB - Statues of Surya are around 3.45m tall.

Several myths are , as expected for a temple built in such a  scale, around. The local guides propagate them, then visitors like us record them here and there - thus 'stories' keep circulating. In the next part, I shall recount one such story  connected with Surya's statue in the sanctum  and few more photos of chlorite exquisites in sunlight and flood-light.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012



SwarnaJaleswar temple . 
A portion of the  wall around the tiny court-yard is seen as well as the  empty ground from where  some photography is possible.

This temple will not be in the list of regular tourists cris-crossing Bhubaneswar. It does appear   in the list of temples of this town -  but it does not at all figure among the  well-known ones. I could not trace one photo of this temple in the Internet ! Well -  Internet  dates this temple to 7th century AD , mentions its resemblance to that of Parasuramaswar temple and added that Kotitirtheswar temple is in its neighbourhood. Someone told me while I was planning my trip to Bhubaneswar that it is best approached through a narrow lane opposite to  Parasuramaswar temple - a tenacious auto-rickshaw driver did take us to the right spot through a winding lane and not without several misses. You must not quite believe the simplicity of ' Bhubaneswar Heritage Walk : Route 2' of

 Fragment of a beautiful 'Mithuna Murti' . 
One of the finest amorous couple in my collection.

This temple's height would be that of Parasuramaswar temple, but there is no Jagmohana here. Maintenance must have been much worse than that of Parasuramaswar temple. It must have been neglected for quite a  long stretch . Now, with reconstruction, some of the wall-reliefs are noticeable to the occasional visitors. It is tucked away in a court-yard beyond a cluster of houses and photography of at least two sides is possible from a large empty ground on the side of the court-yard, in spite a tree in the vicinity. If a large building comes up in this large tract of land, this temple will be hidden from public view for ever.

 Wall-relief of Ganesha and the smaller version on  its top (above). 
A bowl of fruits in front of the stool makes it interesting.
Pious  persons are both on the top and central depictions  
may be the ones who built this temple.

 I found a wall-relief of Ganesha , badly mutilated, sitting on a pedestal with lions as its legs . There is another small Ganesha, quite intact, just above the head of this mutilated one. I found a bust of a Nagdevata too - much like the one I found  @ the main temple of SriMukhalingam. I have noted  Nagdevata is a regular feature of  Orissa temples, but often without the status of a  'Parshadevata'.


The  broken and damaged wall-reliefs in the front of the temple are the ones which  deserve special mention.There is a wonderful Nataraja here - most of it is lost - but  one can imagine how beautiful it was when intact. Nataraja is in tribhanga posture. Only a small part of the 'dola hasta'  rsurvived the vandals and ravage of time. It has similarity  with the 10-handed Nataraja above the Jagomohana of Parasurameswar temple , but more attractive . The influence is evident from the headless person playing drum in the left-hand corner.

  Nataraja exquisite. Ithyphallic ,with his head tilting towards left, 
finely chiseled face,eyes and matted hair. 
We see a small portion of Siva's 'dola hasta' and 
 delicately crafted fingers and nails ! 
The simple waist-band and the hangings  and index finger touching  his own left thigh create an irresistible image.

 I have taken  some more photos which include a three-headed manifestation of Siva, several grotesque figures - human and animals, a four-armed god in 'yogasana', a two-armed 'Nataraja' or a dancer in the centre of a 'Bho' during reconstruction. Strangely, during reconstruction, someone has put the mutilated figures of  a 3-persons amorous scene in two parts - one part each at two ends ( !) , only a pot-bellied short character intact. More such examples can be a subject of academic discussion, but what is intriguing is a 'Uma-Maheswar' reconstructed in such a manner that it becomes an interesting  subject of discussion.

 A jigsaw puzzle  for all of us . 
1 - Siva or Sivani with a trident in his/her right-arm, question - relevant in this depiction , 
2a - Siva/'Maheswar's face, 2 - part of his body,
3 - Uma's left arm, 3a -Uma's right leg,
 4 - Ganesha, 5 -bull, 6 - Lion, 7 - a 'yogini',8 - a very fine and intact 'Bhringee'. There are many more figures in this wall-relief.

I invite readers of this blog, trained in Photoshop, to reconstruct this panel. My very 1st attempt is here :

Saturday, April 7, 2012



 The famous eight-armed MahishasuraMardini on  northern wall of 
Vaital temple.

Vaital temple  is known for its association with performers of 'tantrik' rites. Some bloggers have written about the eerie  atmosphere inside - specially  with a fearsome idol of its presiding  deity 'Camunda' and idols of Bhairavas inside the temple. Unfortunately, entrance to the temple was closed when we reached there because we were there at around 2.30 pm. I knew that the priest opposes any any attempt to take photos inside the temple - still, I am quite disappointed that  an opportunity was missed.

 Vaital temple  and Sisireswar temple.
8th century temples with several unique features.

I found a photo of Vaital temple's Camunda  in a blog where the writer has used a photo  sourced from IGNCA. I  noted the deity is covered with a saree and garland - in my opinion, the  deity found in Jajpur is fiercest among the few photos published in Internet.  Camunda of  '64 Yoginis' temple' @ nearby Hirapur village is also fearsome , but the effect  is lost partly  because it has been defaced and partly because it is in open, not  enshrined in semi-dark sanctum !

 Camunda  - goddess with her emaciated body and fierce posture - 
of   '64 Yoginis' temple' @ nearby Hirapur village

 Vaital  and Sisireshwar temples are adjacent to each other  and enclosed within an irregular compound wall. It is unfortunate that this  small complex  is so tight in space that photography around Sisireswar  temple is impossible. Only south side of this 8th century temple, said to be built in  same architectural form  as that of Parashurameswar temple , is accessible to photographers !  Rich carvings of this wall is a delight to watch. It is unfortunate that a green sprawling site that ASI has developed for RajaRani temple is not possible here, not even one like Parashurameswar temple.

 View of the southern facade of  Sisireswar temple. Richly carved, 
it contains remarkable wall-reliefs of Ganesha and Lakulisha.

11.6m tall Vaital temple is unique in many respects . It has a  semi-cylindrical roof - known as  'khakhara' - which can be compared with an inverted boat  or a Gopuram of Southern temple architecture. Nataraja-Surya  combination on the wall above the Jagmohana is unique - the details  themselves deserve a separate blog !Also unique are the wall-reliefs of  6-armed 'MahishaMardini'  , 4-armed Shivani and Uma-Maheswar . I found a 'ArdhaNareeswar' on Vaital temple's wall which I did not come across anywhere else @ Bhuvaneswar.

Huge wall-relief above the Jagmohana of Vaital temple. On top, 
8-armed ithyphallic Nataraja ,Devi on his left, Nandi staring upwards. 
Below, Surya  on his 7-horses chariot with his 2 consorts.
Mythical animals including Capricorns,elephants, hermits, amorous couples and others adorn this wonderful wall-relief.

 A very well-known Uma-Maheswara wall-relief.
Siva ithyphallic 4-armed, with a round object in his lower right hand.
Parvati sitting close to him - not on his left thigh. Both the postures are comparable to a similar wall-relief of Parashurameswar temple.

Some of the stories  on the walls  remained a puzzle to me. One of them is here , where we find hermits engaged with women, at least two among whom are equipped with arms !