Wednesday, May 30, 2012



Note  : Link for Part I :

 Krsna taming snake 'Sudarsana'-a cursed 'Vidhyadhara'.

'Vastra - haran' - Krsna has  taken away the clothes of Gopis, bathing in the Yamuna, on tree-top.Gopis are requesting   Krsna                          not to torment them !
Not many have heard of the wall-frescoes of this  temple at  Srikakulam, though well-attended by devotees. At least not those who surf internet before visiting a place of tourist interest. But, a visit to this temple - which was rebuilt at least 700 years ago  -  without  good time spent on the frescoes in the long 'parikrama' around the temple will be improper. The temple authorities have devoted just one line to the frescoes of this temple in the plaque outside which ,in my opinion, is unfair !

8th figure in this procession is Krsna, probably accompanied by Nanda. Who are the aristocratic persons leading the procession ! 
(Note - I could not find a matching 'story' in 'SriMadbhagabat')

A good part of these   frescoes are devoted to KrsnaLeela. Also, several manifestations of Vishnu. Unsupervised white-washing , loosely hanging electrical wires and a general lack of appreciation caused deterioration of this heritage art. I have not been to Lepakshi temple , but, there - it appears from what I found in the internet - the frescoes occupy  much more a place of pride than at Sri Kurmam temple .

'Kaliya Daman' - Taming of 'Kaliya'

Above was taken after shifting hanging strands of electric wire from the frame of the photo. One will feel bad if I post  a photo of the total frame of this fresco. It was 16/02/2011 when we were at Sri Kurmam temple. We learnt that shortly a team from ASI  will come to Srikakulam to initiate a process of reviving  the frescoes. Hope the  task is in progress, if not completed.

 'Varah avatata' of Vishnu - an unusual depiction ! 
Blow-up reveals the Earth - not a female figure ! - resting on right elbow of 'Varah' while he tramples Hiranyaksha (?) into sea-water 
with his right foot !

 It is indeed unfortunate , as the viewer must  have noted by now, the blotches of lime-wash has caused serious problem to these frescoes.Very little of the painting above was visible to naked eye. Considerable enhancement has given a reasonable appearance to this one. While I have more photos in my HDD , I shall end with one of Siva riding Nandi. More on some other occasion.

Siva riding Nandi , Parvati accompanying him. He has raised his trident whereas two of his foot-soldiers - quite obscure though - 
are found to wield swords.

Note - Regd. the last fresco, pl read Amol N banker's comment & my reply too.

Sunday, May 27, 2012



  Painting by Ravi Verma
(Source - Internet)

During last week, I came across two discussions on one wall-relief of Kirat-Arjuna  at  Kanchipuram temple. The  artist has been very clever in  making the characters almost look-alike - the discussions were  about who is Kirat-the-Siva and who is Arjuna. The photographer/writer are quite well-known in the internet circuit as discerning  ones so far as  South Indian temples are concerned. Therefore,  I shall not bring out the links of the photos shot by them or the discussions/comments in their respective spheres and  would rather come to the subject directly.

 Kirat-Arjuna, Kailashanatha temple, Kanchipuram.
(Source - Internet- posted by Diablitos & Gallery of tektrader49 @

Here, both the figures on the left and right-hand, as I have mentioned above, are quite similar. The  hair-dos are different, so  are the choices of weapons. Deliberately,  a 'teaser' has been crafted. Which one is Kirat-the-Siva ?

I  referred to Gopinatha Rao - he has described this manifestation in page 315-316, volume 2  of his book on Iconography. But,  GR professed that Kirat-the-Siva should be depicted with four arms, three eyes, jatamukuta and stand in samabhanga posture ! These and other details are not applicable in this case !

Kirat-Arjuna of Virupaksha temple, Pattadakal, Karnataka.

Far more explicit is the Kirat-Arjuna of Virupaksha temple, Pattadakal. The postures, attires and the physiques are near equal, but, not identical. The figure on the right-side is a little more stout, has a longer jatamukuta and clearly over-powering  the other. So,  one may deduce that he is Kirat-the-Siva. I also felt, Arjuna, after long uncomfortable stay in the forest, would be  leaner than Kirat. Therefore, one may deduce that the figure in the left is Arjuna.

Top - Siva, Below -  A blow-up of the upper portion of the  wall-relief.
Mahakuta temple, Karnataka

But, what about  the wall-relief from Kanchipuram ? In my opinion, one of the keys to Siva's identification lies in his dissimilar ear-rings. Here is a photo of a sculpture from Mahakuta temple, Karnataka. Here we have a simple 2-arm Siva and a blow-up of the upper part of his body.We can see 'sankhapatra' on Siva's left ear,  'sarpa(snake)kundala' on his right and a skull in his 'Jatamukuta'. We can apply these criteria on the two faces of Kanchipuram's wall-relief we are discussing about and reach a conclusion. Unfortunately, I have no access to such blow-ups for this Kanchipuram
wall-relief ! May be  my friends/readers who have  photos of this wall-relief can help.

Friday, May 25, 2012



Siva and SuryaNarayal temples of Lakundi.They face each other.

I  had an inner feeling that I have not  uploaded enough photos of Lakundi temples. When my friend Devashish Nandy of CESC Ltd  wanted to drop in to my place during his planning stage of a visit to north Karnataka & Goa, I opened my computer's HDD   and went through the photos once again.I recall that was a day when my camera mal-functioned at least twice - once when I tried to capture the sculptures lying outside the local museum and next when I tried to click a photo of a drummer at Naneswara temple. Fortunately, Ruby and Canon s3is were there to my rescue !

Highlight of this this photo is are the two face-to-face 'makaras', with  peacock-like tails,perched on two pillars.  
Below - A pack of lion-like creatures are surging 
like a pack of dogs pulling a snow-cart !

Heavily ornate black-stone Siva and Surya temples are little-known assets of Lakundi - and a delight for a 'student' of iconography like me. In this blog, I shall post photos of mythical and real-life animals sculpted here.  I intend to publish a third blog on pillars, frames of wall-reliefs   and doors of temples of Lakundi.

 A  Dancer - 'Gandharva' - among mythical animals, placed within a mythical 300 deg trunk
His companion not adequately captured in this shot.

 All the animals of Lakundi temples are not mythical. There are horses and elephants aplenty. I found there is an emphasis on elephants from mythology. Kubalyapeerha, Airavata and Gajasura - after being slain - are here.There are vertical panels  with hunting scenes , later adopted in several terra cotta temples .

 Elephant carries Indra & Indrani (or royalty ?) amid celebration !
Erosion has eaten away into the finer aspects of the wall-relief.

A hunting scene from a vertical panel. Animals depicted very prominently.
 We have seen in many 'Rekh-Deuls', the sides of the temples  have king's insignia  and alcoves meant for wall-reliefs framed  such a way that it looks like a front- view of a 'deul'. Significant 'Parshwa_Devatas' are placed in these alcoves.  I have captured a photo where Siva is on the top, a rather eroded image of a  deity standing samapada is in the next tier  with makaras, mythical composites and elephants all around. At the bottom, Garurha salutes Nandi - the implication is quite apparent.

 A portion of the RH side of SuryaNarayan temple.Lots of animals 
and motifs abound this portion!

 A section of the animals on one of the side pillars. Lion,buffalo 
and elephant jostle with each other !

 The spouts of temples and -for that matter - historical monuments of Western hemisphere too have interesting gargoyles and grotesque figures. Many historians of architecture have prepared compilations of the same. I end here with one example from a temple of Lakundi .

A lone figure, holding a lotus in  right-hand, cuddle up makara's neck . Here is a pattern of this type of co-existence!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012



 Mid-day Sun. Mutilated statue exudes grace !  Dandi on the right.
Because of lack of access, a full frontal view is impossible to capture.

In a giant temple like the one at Konark, there are bound to be 'stories' around the 'birth and life' of the temple.  Through centuries,  some of these  take the proportion of myths.

  Recounting the myths !
Gathering around the story-telling guides.

 It is said that 1200 architects and artisans were given 12 years to build this temple by King NarshimhaDev-1. The team toiled for 12 years while the King spent  his revenue earning for 12 years on this temple-building project. The temple was far from completion  at the end of  the stipulated period. King was quite unhappy - in a mood to punish the team severely for the delay.  Bishu Maharana, the head architect was at his wit's end. His 12 year old son  Dharmapada  reportedly solved the problem of fixing the last coping stone - a 52T magnet according to another version -  though he  was without any experience. He then committed suicide to spare his community  the indignity of wrath of   King's  discovering   the source of   solution of a nagging and critical problem was a 12 year old boy  .

 Was this the principal deity of Konark's Sun-temple ?
Source - ASI Museum, Konark.

Was this death the reason why the deity of Sun was ever was worshiped ? Or did worship  of  Sun in the 'Deul' continue till 1568 AD ( according to another source, desecration  happened during early 17th century) , when Muslims invaded the temple ? Where is the main idol of the sun ? In the temple of Indra at Jagannatha temple complex of Puri ? Or at National Museum, Delhi ?

It is also said that the temple's inner sanctum most of which was damaged had several strong magnets strategically  placed. The iron rich (chlorite ?) statue of Sun was so placed that it did not the touch the base, but, used to float ! These magnets were causing problem to compasses of ships visiting the neighbouring sea coast. Reportedly, the shipping community arranged for removal of the magnets. leading to the collapse of the 'Deul's roof.

  Iron beams preserved within the temple complex.
Strangely, without any explanatory plaque !

  There are stories and counter-arguments....  but,  I find the idol of  Sun floating above the pedestal is a great idea ! We all know, magnets lose power over time . Very likely , ships were not disturbed by the decayed magnets of the temple during 17th or 18th century. Perhaps decay caused collapse of the 'Deul'. There are interesting books on this subject - the most well-known being Sun Temple of Konark  by Pt. Sada Shiv Rathsharma .

  Martanda Vairava at a high level of Jagamohana.  Feet in a posture of dance, Vairava has 'ghora' -fierce - disposition. Fangs out and 'Kapala' in left hand.
A fine 'chlorite' statue.

 But, here stands the temple partly restored, the areas around cleared, foundations of  the smaller temples exposed and rebuilt, the 2 victory horses and 2  giant elephants on elegant pedestals. This site attracts thousands of visitors everyday . King NarashimhaDev- I, Dharmapada and Bishu Maharana  with his team would be remembered  while this Sun temple remains firm at Konark.
 Mythical lion in the Sun temple complex - made of khondalite stone.
ASI uses green hue extensively during evening illumination to highlight the 'chlorite' idols of Surya and 
create an effect on such khondalite statues too !