Category Archives: Temple art of India

Udumbaras : images of some Hindu temple steps

 

          The temples of India have different types of architecture as has been classified in the Nagara and Dravidian temples. Though most ancient, medieval temples and some modern temples leave the visitor awestruck when they visit the temple, the steps which lead to the main deity in the temple are also a matter of great interest. They are strong usually and can bear the weight of the devotees who sometimes come in hundreds. 

         Dasavatara Temple at Deogarh in one of earliest surviving Nagara style Hindu temple made from stone-masonry. It has a square plan. Like all major pre-12th century Hindu temples has multiple entrance, with stairs shown in the middle of all four sides. The middle square has a shrine with oldest known square lithic shikhara in North India. The foot stairs are mentioned in the floor-plans too.  The sculpture on them is not mentioned though, but can be seen on visiting the site or in images.

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Dasavatara temple, Deogarh, 6th century.

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Plan, Dasavatara temple, Deogarh, 6th century.

      The Airavateswara temple at Darasuram near Kumbakonam in the state of Tamil Nadu is from the 12th century and was built by Rajaraja Chola II. The image sculpted on the side of the udumbara or foot stairs at the temple depicts a bull-elephant in the same image !  Floral decoration and garland motif is also seen carved on the stone, also a dancer and her attendant between two small pillars in a niche.

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Airaveteswara temple, Darasuram, Thanjavur,Tamil Nadu.

    The Brihadeeshvara temple, also called Rajarajesvaram or Peruvudaiyar Koyil, is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.  It is one of the largest South Indian temples and an exemplary example of  Dravidian architecture. It is called as Dakshina Meru and was built by Raja Raja Chola I between 1003 and 1010 AD. The grand foot stairs lead to the deity and is ornately built. The trunk of the elephant is part of the stairs as can be seen in the image below.

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Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.

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Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.

 

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Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.

 

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Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.

Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.

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Murugan Temple inside the Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.

Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century temple at Konark about 35 kilometres northeast of Puri on the coastline of Odisha, India. The temple is attributed to King Narasingadeva I of the Eastern Ganga dynasty. There are carvings and designs seen in front of the stairs on way to the temple.

 

 

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Plan, The Sun temple, Konarak, Odisha showing the stairs to the temple.

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The Sun temple, Konarak, Odisha.

 

    The Lakshmana Temple is a 10th-century temple built by King Yashovarman of the Chandela dynasty, located in Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, India. it is dedicated to Vaikuntha Vishnu; an aspect of Vishnu. The steps to the temple are having structures on it sides, which add grandeur to the overall design. 

Lakshmana temple at Khajuraho

Lakhsmana temple, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh.

 

References:

  • wikipedia.org
  • Images sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

 

 

 

 

Posted by:

Soma Ghosh

©author

Srirangam : sculptural grandeur and glory

 

       Tiruchirpalli or Trichy; Trichinoply as it was called before, is a city in Tamil Nadu state in southern India. The Kaveri or Cauvery delta begins 16 kilometres  west of the city where the Kaveri river splits into two, forming the island of Srirangam, which is now incorporated into the Tiruchirappalli City. Here is the famous Sriranganathaswamy temple popularly called Srirangam temple. It is a temple of Lord Vishnu as Sriranganathaswamy. The Atharva veda says :

Vishnu is the Almighty Lord,

In whose three wide-extended paces

All worlds and creatures have their habitation:

Vishnu strode through all the worlds

And all the worlds gathered

As grains of dust under His feet!

    It is the world’s largest functioning temple with 50 shrines, 21 towers and 39 pavillions. The temple complex covers  156 acres with seven prakaras or enclosures. Srirangam is a temple town on an island on the Kaveri river. At one time the entire population of Srirangam lived within the walls of this temple.

Ranganathaswamy temple tiruchirappalli.jpgGopurams, Srirangam temple complex, Trichy, Tamil Nadu.

  The gopurams of the temple articulate the axial path, the highest is  at the outermost prakara and the lowest is at the innermost. The Rajagopuram of the temple is the southern one which is 239 feet high, having been plated in gold. The Rajagopuram was stated to be built by Vijayanagara king Achyuta Deva Raya but it was completed by the Ahobila Matha in 1987. The diagram below shows  structures in the temple complex; the gopurams, the mandapas, various shrines among others.

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Layout of the temple complex, image.

Aerial photograph of Srirangam Island between Kaveri and Kollidam rivers.

   The main temple has been built based on Agama texts and is dedicated to Sri Ranganathaswamy. It is a Vaishnavite temple and has many legends associated with it.It is in the inner courtyard. There is 6 meter deity of Sri Ranganathar reclining on Adisesha with five hoods in the sanctum which is entered from the south gateway. The doorway has the dwarapalas or guards Jaya and Vijaya. The mukhamandapa is also called Gayatri mandapa leading to the round sanctum surrounded by a raised square, encircling pillars and an inner square. The other images are of Lord Vishnu on Sesha, Lord Ganesha, Lord Narasimha in Yogasana and Goddess Durga.  The 50 shriens include Lord Vishnu temples, Goddess Lakshmi temple, shrines of various Vaishnave scholars. The temple structures have rich sculptural detail. The temple’s vimana  is embellished with sculptures, and has carved pilasters with fluted shafts, double capitals and lotus brackets. The temple complex has many mandapas, frescoes, inscriptions on its walls, tanks and granaries. The inscriptions are over 800, from 9th century to 16th century of the times of the Nayaks, Pandyas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagara rulers, are in different languages like Tamil, Sanskrit, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Oriya and relate mostly to temple grants and gifts, rulers, nobles and temple management.  Many of the temple structures have been renovated, rebuilt over time, though the temple was looted by different rulers.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (84) (37513353141).jpgPilasters and carvings, Srirangam.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (85) (37482143952).jpg                                                 Bracket figures, Srirangam temple.

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Sculpture, Srirangam temple.

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Yoga Narsimha, Srirangam temple.

Among the mandapas  the 1000 pillar mandapa is a theatre like structure built during the Vijayanagara period made out of granite.

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1000 pillar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

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Warriors on horses, 1000 pillar mandapa, sculpture, Srirangam temple.

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Dancer and musicians, sculpture, Hall of 1000 pillars.

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Elephant being led by his mahout, sculpture, Srirangam.

      During the Vijayanagara rule the temple complex developed under Sri Krishnadeva Raya. The temple structures include the Sesharayar mandapa and the Venugopala temple which have amazing sculptural work. The Sesharayar mandapa was built during the Nayaka rule. The Garuda mandapa was also made during the Nayaka rule. It has a free standing seated Garuda. Kili mandapa is next to the main shrine, made during the 17th century. The Ranga vilasa mandapa is a large community hall with murals and narratives from mythology and the epic Ramayana. The temple has many wooden monuments like the Garuda vahana, Simha vahana, Hanumantha vahana among others.

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Sesharayar mandapa, Vijayanagar period, 16th century, Srirangam temple.

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Sesharayar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

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Sesharayar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

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Sesharayar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

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Sesharayar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

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Sesharayar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

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Sesharayar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

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Sesharayar mandapa, Srirangam temple.

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Motif, Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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Fencing, Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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With the pot of nectar, Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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Damsel, sculpture, Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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Woman warrior, Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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Sage Agastya, sculpture, Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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Sesharayar mandapa,  Srirangam.

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Venugopala shrine, Srirangam temple complex.

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Lord Krishna or Venugopala, Venugopala shrine, Srirangam temple complex.

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Sculptures, Venugopala shrine, Srirangam temple complex.

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Venugopala shrine, Srirangam temple complex.

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Salabhanjika sculpture, Venugopala shrine.

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Woman playing musical instrument, Venugopala shrine.

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Mithuna or loving couple, sculpture, Venugopala shrine.

 

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, in Srirangam, near Tiruchirappali (59) (23660014378).jpg

Woman applying vermillion, sculpture,Venugopala shrine.

 

References :

  • http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in
  • wikipedia.org
  • https://poetrypoem.com
  • Images sourced from Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

 

 

Peacock in art : images from sculpture

       The peacock is a charming, graceful bird. It has magnificent tail feathers and a curved blue neck. The tail feathers can be opened up into a resplendent display when the bird dances. It is one of nature’s most splendorous sights. The peacock is the National Bird of India. it is a popular art motif in India since yore. In Sanskrit the bird is called mayura and In Hindi, mor.  Zoologically the bird’s name is Pava cristatus and it  is from the family of pheasants, quails, partridges and snowcocks.The peacock has a fan-shaped pretty crest which adds to its beauty. A peacock’s forelimbs are modified into wings and two hindlimbs are for general mobility. The male has the ornamental tail feathers called train  consisting of upto 150 feathers !

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A peacock feather.

      The female is called peahen and is smaller in size.  It is a plain brown bird without the train. Fully white peacocks too are there but are bit rare. The peacock rejoices on seeing the clouds and is often called meghananda. Found mostly in South Asia and Far Eastern Asia. Peacocks have been depicted in India since Harappan times. The peacock is India’s favourite bird in the Rigveda. The peacock was a favourite among the Indus Valley people, peacock has been depicted in folk literature too! Peacock was the totem of the Mauryan rulers, a word derived from mor or mayura.  and has been found on  stones used for the palace of Chandragupta Maurya. The peacock is an important component in the Jataka tales.

   Peacock is found at the railings of the Bharhut Stupa dating to 1st century B.C, now seen at the Indian Museum, Kolkata. the northern gateway of the Great Stupa at Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh, from 2nd-1st century B.C depicts peacocks in pairs with their long tails. There are many sculptural depictions of the peacock across India across centuries.

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Peacock motif, Great Stupa, Sanchi, 2nd to 1st B.C, Madhya Pradesh.

By Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand (017 Maya on Lotus, Couple on Horse, and Peacock) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

   The peacock is associated with Lord Kartikeya or Murugan as his vehicle or vahana. Lord Murugan is the Commander-in-chief of the Gods in Hinduism. He vanquishes Tarakasura. To achieve this Garuda (vehicle of Lord Vishnu) gave his son, the peacock to him. Lord Shiva gave him a locket and  Indra gave him a string of pearls. The other gods gave him different powers. Agni gave him a shula  or spear, Brihaspati gave him a danda or club, Ganga gave him a kamandala (pot for water).

Kartikeya depicted on his peacock in upper left, on a Nataraja relief on Temple 1; Ganesha in upper right corner, Parvati in lower left and a musician is in lower right, Jageshwar Temples, Uttarakhand, 7th-12th century .

By Nitin Sharma – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28550582

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Kartikeya on peacock, Hucchimalligudi, 8th century, Aihole, Karnataka.

By Ms Sarah Welch [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

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Abhaneri temple, 7th/8th century, Rajasthan.

By Arpita Roy08 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

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Kolaramma temple, Kolar, 11th century,Karnataka.

By Shailesh.patil [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

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Lower panel of relief depicts musicians and dancing peacocks, 12th-century, Hoysaleswara temple, Halebidu, Karnataka.

 

By Ms Sarah Welch [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

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Jaisalmer Palace and Fort, 12th century, Rajasthan.

By Schwiki [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

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Chennakesava temple, Somnathapura, 13th century, Karnataka.

By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France (Le temple de Chennakesava (Somanathapura, Inde)) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Lakhsminarasimha temple, Javagal,13th century, Karnataka.

By Dineshkannambadi [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

 

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Achyutaraya temple,Hampi, 16th century, Karnataka.

By Vu2sga [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

 

References :

  • Peacock in Indian art,thought and literature/Krishna Lal, New Delhi : Abhinav Publications, 2006.
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

@author

 

Vijayanagara art : glimpses from Tadipatri

         The term Tadipatri means palm-leaf. It is a place in the Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh, south of India. Tadipatri is famous for its awesome Vijayanagara temples with their style of art and architecture. Tadipatri came into prominence during Vijayanagara period. It was flourishing village during Chalukyas of Kalyani period. Vijayanagara kingdom was founded in 1336 A.D by brothers Harihara and Bukka when they declared independence from the Delhi Sultanatate. Tadipatri was developed by Nandela Viraraghavaraju. During the rule of Devaraya II Pemmasani chiefs emerged. The earliest member was Pemmasani Thimmanayudu who might have joined Vijayanagara service during Virupaksha period of 1460-85. His three sons were Ramalinganayudu, Yera Thimmanayudu and Chinna Thimmanayudu. The Bugga Ramalingeswara Swamy temple was built by Ramalinganayudu, a shrine of Lord Shiva on the bank of the River Penna, between 1490 and 1509, after he succeeded his father in governance of Yadikisima. He was a notable chief under Krishnadevaraya (1509-29).

       The temple is built of granite, richly carved with the superstructures in brick and stucco. Schist stone has been used like the Hoysala temples.  Schist has been used in the gateways. The temple complexes at Tadipatri are well developed having  a main shrine and a devi shrine each with an open rangamandapa. The main shrines in this temple complex are of Ramalingeswara, Parvati and Lord Rama. The other smaller shrines of Chandesa and Virabhadra are to the north and south of the Ramalingeswara shrine.  Closed  mandapa with porches in cardinal direction is seen in the Ramalingeswara temple. The temple complex has a prakara   with gopurams to the south, west and north. There is a mandapa  having the navagrahas in the north-east and at the south west corner, there is a kalyanamandapa.

 

Carvings, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

 

Carvings, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

 

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Carvings, Ramalingeswara temple complex, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

       The main shrine stands on adishthana , has a mukhamndapa with porches on south and north sides, antarala and the garbagriha. The temple has rich sculpture in the niches, pillars and walls. The images of Lord Shiva include Kevalamurti in the gopura.  Also images as Sukhasanamurti, Dakshinamurti, Uma-maheswaramurti,Vrsabharudamurti, Natarja,Ardhanarimurti and Bhiksatanamurti. Chandeswara is seen in a small shrine north to the main Ramalingeswara temple. The gopuras depict Parvati seen in sambhaga  adorned with jewellery; the kiritamakuta,chandrakundala, kuchabandha,girdle and purnoruka.  Lord Ganesha is seen in diffrent forms of Sthanakamurti and Nrityamurti  or Dancing Ganesha. He is also  seen as Yanakamurti or the riding form. He is seen as asanamurti or in a seated form.

Temple view, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Andhra Pradesh.

    The Ramalingeswara temple has images of Kumara or Lord Murugan (Kartikeya) riding a peacock, standing or in seated position. Goddess Durga is seen depicted in the Gopura in various forms. Lord Brahma, Goddess Saraswati , Surya are also depicted. The saptamatrikas  Brahmi,Vaisnavi,Indrani, Chamunda, Maheswari,Kaumaari and Varahi are seen in the open mandapa. 

    Lord Vishnu is seen seated on adisesa in the Ramalingeswara temple. Lord Vishnu riding on Garuda is depicted at the north gopura of the temple. Goddess Lakshmi is is depicted on the north gopura of the the Ramalingeswara temple. There is a shrine dedicated to the 12th century reformer, Ramanuja. A tall figure in the southern gopura of a noble is of the builder with a tall conical cap and short waist cloth.

Carvings, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

          The temples at Tadipatri have upapithas. The wall pattern shows bays and recesses. Doorjambs have two or three  jambs, the broad jamb has salabhanjika sculpture. Ceilings are like a grid with coffers with lotus medallions or a  dome having three tiers and a big pendentive. Bas reliefs are mostly found at Tadipatrit temples. In the niches smaller deity figures have been placed.

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Carvings on ceiling, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

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Carvings, North gopura, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

Carvings, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

           Hoysala artistic  influence is seen in the sculpture;  similar motifs, kirtimukhas, floriate arches etc. There is resemblance in the jewellery depictions too.  Facial features have similar prominent eyeballs and high eyebrows. The art at Tadipatri bears resemblance to the Chennakesava temple at Pushpagiri. The temple depicts contemporary life depicting wrestlers, warriors, shepherds,hunting scenes, monkeys and horses.

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Carving of salabhanjika, Ramalingeswara temple, Tadipatri, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. 

 

References :

  • Temples of Vijayanagara/Jayaprada, V, Delhi : Bharatiya Kala Prakashan, 1998.
  • wikipedia.org

 

All Image attributions

 

 

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

 

Vijayanagara art : glimpses from Lepakshi

        The word Lepakshi means painted eye.  The temple at Lepakshi, a village, 15 km from Hindupur in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh in south India is an excellent example of Vijayanagara art. Initially there was considerable influence of Hoysala and Kakatiya idioms , the style developed its own uniqueness by mid-15th century. The main centres to study, reflect upon and admire their art and architecture are at Hampi, Lepakshi,Tadipatri, Melkote, Kolar, Bellary, Chikballapur and Chamarajnagar.

    The area of Lepakshi is part of the Mysore plateau and is flat, made  up of granite rocks. The rocka are seen in clusters and the area is surrounded by hills. This area was under the Mauryas in 3rd century B.C., later on the Satavahanas, then the Chutu kings….on.to Chalukyas of Badami, Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas of Kalyani and by the end of the 13th century when the Delhi Sultanate tried to control the whole of Deccan, they appointed two brothers Harihara and Bukka, sons of Sangama to control the political situation at Kampile. However they declared their independence and founded Vijayanagara a new city on the southern bank of Tungabhadra opposite Anegondi. They brought many adjoining areas under their territory. They made afort at Penukonda and made it their second capital. Lepakshi bacame part of their empire.

      The art and architecture of a powerful empire in south  Indian history is well lauded since  the style resonates with beauty and freshness. There are some gigantic sculptures inside the temple complexes which include mandapas with pillars which are aging richly carved. Themes from the epics and Puranic stories are depicted too. Musicians, dancers flora, fauna, contemporary society have been carved or painted. Sculpting was a hereditary art and well patronised by the rulers. They formed the panchala  or five types of categories of craftsmen.

       The Lepakshi temple is synonymous with the Veeabhadra temple complex. the temple is situated on Kurma-saila (resembling a tortoise back). The temples are the Papanaseswara and Raghunatha shrines. It is unclear about when this complex was started. The brothers Virupanna and Virana took keen interest under ruler Achyutaraya to develop the edifice into an outstanding example of Vijayanagara art.

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Lepakshi temple shikharas, Lepakshi.

By Mahesh Telkar – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20994747

Virabhadra temple complex view from mandapa side.JPG

Mandapa pillars, Temple complex, Lepakshi, Anantapur,Andhra Pradesh.

By Vinu raj – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21136957

        The temple complex was developed over a period of time (1100 A.D to 1800 A.D), made of granite. The structures are at three levels of the hillock, each one having an enclosure or prakara.  The Papanaseswara shrine is the earliest one in the complex. Initially there were two shrines Veerabhadra and Papanaseswara, sharing a common platform with a mandapa around it. The Raghunatha shrine was added later was added to the western side of the prakara. The Veerabhadra shrine has its entrance to the north; the inner prakara in 432 square metres mainly developed between 1350 to 1600 A.D. several shrines, mandapas were added.

     The temple complex is an amazing planet of sculptures. The high relief sculptures are large and mostly depict Gods and Goddesses and the pillars of the mandapas.  The low relief sculptures are done on walls, door frames and smaller compartments; demi gods, fauna, flora among others.

        Lord Shiva in different forms like Sadashiva,Dakshinamurti, Nataraja, Bhiksatanamurti, Kalyanasundaramurti,Devisahitamurti, Bhairava, Gajantakamurti, Andhakasura samharamurti, Veerabhadra is depicted in different places like pillars.

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Siva Parvathi Kalyanam. Lepakshi.

Pponnada at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Nagalinga, Lepakshi temple, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh.

By Narasimha Prakash (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

         Lord Ganesha is depicted at various places. He is in Lalitasana at the back of the Veerabhadra shrine, a large monolithic sculpture. Goddess Durga figures have also been carved at various places. She is seen as Mahisasuramardini,Uma and Bhadrakali.File:Lord Ganesha on rear side of the Veerabhadra Temple, Lepakshi.jpg

Lord Ganesha, Lepakshi temple complex, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh.

By Bikashrd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       Lord Vishnu has been depicted as Narasimha,Kondandarama,Vamana, Kurma and Sri Krishna as Kaliyamardana and Balakrishna. Lord Hanuman has been carved at many places. garuda is found at different points,Goddess Lakhsmi,Gajalakhsmi is also seen.    Lord Brahma,Dattatreya,Surya,Chandra,Indra,agni,Yama,Varuna,Vayu,Kubera,Ishana, dikpalasGoddess Saraswati, the saptamatrikas have all been depicted. Among the demi-gods, the ganas,rishis,pitris,dwarapalas,apsaras,gandharvas,kinnaras,nagas have been carved. In addition devotees, ascetics,warriors, musicians and acharyas (teachers) too find a place in the temple carvings. Also common people like shepherds, priests, wrestlers, potters et al. Some stories from the Puranas have been carved as well. The decorative motifs include geometric designs, kalasa,chakra,conch,sivalinga and nandi.  The bull at some distance is an amazing monolithic sculpture, Basavanna.

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Nandi or Basavanna, Lepakshi temple, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh.

By రహ్మానుద్దీన్ (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       Architectural motifs like mandapas,shikharas, chaitya window are all depicted. Floral motifs like trees, creepers are seen. Flowers are also seen as decoration. Fauna or animals are shown as vahanas or in natural poses. Vyalas are also seen which are imaginery creatures, bit grotesque or fierce looking like simha-vyala,gaja-vyala and nara-vyala. The temple complex has simha-vyala and a few hamsa vyalas.

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Carvings, Lepakshi temple, Andhra Pradesh.

By Bikashrd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Carvings, Veerabhadra temple, Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh.

By Perched (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

File:Carved pillars at Veerabhadra temple, Lepakashi.jpg

Carved pillars at Veerabhadra temple, Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh.

By Jitzpop (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Carved pillars at Veerabhadra temple, Lepakshi,Andhra Pradesh.

rajaraman sundaram [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Saptamatrika, Lepakshi temple, Andhra Pradesh.

By రహ్మానుద్దీన్ (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Open-air-kalyana-mantapam, Lepakshi temple complex.

By Pponnada at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32718242

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Celestial dancer, Veerabhadra temple, Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh.

By Bikashrd – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51736272

 

References :

  • Lepakshi temple : a cultural and archeological study/Rao, D. Hanumantha,Delhi : Bharatiya Kala Prakashan,2004.
  • wikipedia.org

 

 

Posted by :

 

Soma Ghosh

 

©author

 

 

Art of Kerala : magnificent murals

     Kerala is at the southern end of the Indian peninsula.  It is a part of the Western Ghats of India. Verdant with copious rainfall it is home to many trees, spice plantations, an amazing amount of flora and its well-known backwaters in the south.  Kerala, often referred to as God’s own country has a very interesting history of mural making. Believed to have started in the 7th and 8th century; majorly influenced by Pallava art. The oldest Kerala style murals have been found at a rock cut temple of Thirunandikara, now in Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu which was probably made in the 9th or 10th century. There is some doubt about mural making in between 10th and 13th centuries but from the 14th to 16th century many were made and continue to this day after continuing  revival efforts.

    The content of the murals are mostly religious and mythological depicting legends. Flora and  fauna also figure in the wall paintings. Magnificent murals are found all over Kerala. Murals have been made at palaces, termples, churches and also some other spaces. The Kanthaloor temple, Thiruvananthapuram, The Mattancherry palace, Cochin, Vaddakumnathan temple, Thrissur to mention a few. Murals have been made at churches at Alappuzha, Thiruvella, Angamly and Akkaparambu. Some temple murals   are highlighted here.  Also some depictions from Kalyana bhavanam or marriage halls.

Ananthasayanam, mural, 21st century, by artist Sastrasarman Prasad, Sree Karthyayani Temple,  Kunnamkulam, Thrissur,Kerala.

By Mural paintings (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

    The Mattancheri palace was built by the Portuguese in 1555. It is commonly called Dutch palace since 1663 after the Dutch made additions and renovations to it. there are shrines in the palace compound. Next to the palace is the Cochin synagogue built in 1567. On the west of the palace are murals painted in 1000 square feet in four chambers and two low ceilinged rooms from the 17th to mid 19th century. The depictions are from the Ramayana and some Krishna-lila scenes. The eastern chambers have Lord Shiva and Vishnu depictions. The scenes are dominated by browns,golds and red browns with touches of jewel-like green. There are many paintings which include Lord Vishnu as Anantasayana, Lord Krishna lifting Mount Govardhan, Lord Shiva with Parvati on Kailasa, Krishna with gopis, marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Also Lord Shiva with Vishnu as Mohini.

File:Mattancherry Palace DSC 0899.JPGMattancherri Palace, Cochin,Kerala.

By Ranjith Siji (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Mural, Lord Shiva with Mohini, Parvati looking away in anger, Mattancheri palace, Cochin, Kerala.

By Mark Hills (originally posted to Flickr as mattancherry palace) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

    The Padmanabhapuram palace is located 40 kilometres from thiruvananthapuram, now in Tamil Nadu though historically a part of Kerala. This palace was a royal site, a centre for contact between the ruler Maharaja with visitors from abroad and for discussions with his advisors.  The murals at the palace are from the 17th and 18th centuries mostly found on the upper floor of the 4 storey tower, in a sacred bedroom devoted to Lord Vishnu. Deities and tales from the Puranas  are depicted on all four walls. The colours are light with uses of pastel shades and white as well. an are of 900 square feet is painted with murals. Lord Shiva resting with Parvati, Lord Krishna playing on his flute with gopis around him; are also depicted in the palace.

     The Krishnapuram palace, built in the early 18th century at Kayamkulam is located north of Kollam (Quilon) and has a mural of Gajendramoksham of 154 square feet made around 1725-40.  There is also an image of Ganesha. At some places European influences can be seen.

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Krishnapuram palace, Kayamkulam, Kerala.

By Appusviews at Malayalam Wikipedia – Transferred from ml.wikipedia to Commons by Sreejithk2000 using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12762847

Gajendramoksham, Krishnapuram Palace, Kayamkulam, Alappuzha, Kerala. 

By Essarpee1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32662595

    The magnificent art of mural painting is well depicted in many temples across Kerala. The Vaddakumnathan temple at Thrissur, the Chemmanthita Siva temple, Thrissur, Kudamaloor, Kannur, Thodeekkalam, Kannur, the Sreevallabha temple, Thiruvalla the Mahadeva Siva temple, Ettamanoor, Pallikarup Mahavishnu temple, Mannarkad, Palakkad, the Padmanabhaswamy temple at Thiruvananthapuram, Guruvayur temple, Guruvayur, Vaikom temple, Kottayam,  among many others.

           The Sreevallabha temple at Thiruvalla, Pathanamthitta is dedicated to Lord Sree Vallabham  and is very old. It is built on the banks of the Manimala river. The temple has fine stone-wooden carvings and grand architecture. There are  superb murals paintings in the  sreekovil (sanctum sanctorum) of Matsya avatara, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Sudarshana, Parashurama, Venugopala, Lord Krishna, Kaaliyamardana episode,  Balarama, Dakshinamurty, Purusha sukta, Lord Rama, Lakshmi, Ganapati,  Kalki avatara.

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Sreevallabha Temple, Thiruvalla, Kerala.

By Ssriram mt – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42076069

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Garuda, mural, Sreevallabha temple, Thiruvalla, Kerala.

By Dvellakat (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

   The Vaikom Mahadeva temple in Kottayam is an elliptical plan temple founded in the 11th or 12th century. The murals here are dedicated to the story of Lord Shiva. The paintings are bright and the colours are intense. At the Mahadeva temple at Ettamanur in Kottayam is an awesome panel of Lord Shiva as Nataraja  on the inner wall of the gopura, 12 feet by 8 feet in size from the 16th century ! Lord Shiva is seen trampling the demon apasmara.

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Vaikom Mahadeva Temple, Kottayam, Kerala.

By Sivavkm (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       The Thodeekkalam Shiva temple at Kannur is believed to be 2000 years old ! It is having much admired murals which depict stories of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Also the rural life from the 16th to the 18th centuries. The two-storied temple associated with the Pazhassi royal family of Kottayam, has 150 murals  painted over an area of 700 square feet  on the walls of the garba-griha or sanctum sanctorum. The splendorous murals are painted with naturally sourced pigments and red, saffron-yellow, green, white, blue, black, golden yellow hues dominate the panels.

Mural painting of Ganesha, Thodeekkalam Shiva temple, Kannur,Kerala.

By Vijayakumarblathur – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48710571

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Mural painting, Thodeekkalam Shiva temple, Kannur, Kerala. 

By Vijayakumarblathur (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

       The Pundareekapuram temple near Thalayolaparambhu in Kottayam has Lord Vishnu as the main deity on his Garuda along with Bhoodevi. The murals of this temple were made most probably in later 18th century. The themes include Mahisasuramardini, Krishnalila, Sri Rama-pattabhishekam among others. The murals are bold and striking with accurate lines. Many images of Nagaraja along with Garuda are found in the temple.

 

 

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Pundareekapuram temple, Kottayam, Kerala.

By Sivavkm – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16060370

Pundareekapuram temple  mural, Kottayam, Kerala.

By Sivavkm – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16060393

Kalyana-bhavanam mural painting, Achikanam, Kasargod, Kerala.

By Vijayanrajapuram – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53875551

File:Murals in Palakkad Junction railway station.jpg

 Mural at Olavakhode Railway Station, Palakkad, Kerala.

 By Prof tpms (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

   

References :

  • Temple arts of Kerala/Bernier,Ronald M, New Delhi : S Chand & Company Ltd, 1982.
  •  Murals of Kerala/Shashibhushan,M.G, Tvm : Department of Public Relations. (article)
  • connectingmalayali.com
  • wikipedia.org

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

 

©author