Tag Archives: Temples 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.

படிமம்:View of the Remains of the Dashavatara Temple in Deogarh.jpg

Dasavatara temple, Deogarh, 6th century.

1880 sketch of early 6th century Deogarh Dashavatara Hindu temple plan.jpg

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.

 

File:"Amazing Steps in Brihadisvara Temple".JPG

Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.

 

File:"Aesthetic Stone Steps in The Big Temple".JPG

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

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Temples at Melkote : abode of legends

       Melkote or Melukote is in the Mandya district of Karnataka, about 50 km from Mysuru in Karnataka, in South India. Another name for Melkote is Thirunarayanapuram. The town is on hills Yadugiri, Yaadavagiri and Yaidushiladeepa. The temples are ancient and  the area was under the Vijayanagara rulers. The Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple and another temple Yoga Narasimha temple is on the hilltop. Srivaishnavaite saint Sri Ramanujacharya stayed here for 14 years in 12th century. The Cheluvanarayanswamy temple is a square temple dedicated to Cheluvanarayana or Thirunarayana.  The presiding deity has many legends surrounding it. it is believed that Lord Rama and generations of kings and Lord Krishna and generations of kings have worshipped the deity.  This image which was lost was recovered by Sri Ramanujacharya who worshipped in the shrine. The temple has a collection of jewels which are brought out from Govt. custody during the Vairamudi festival every year.

       The  Cheluvanaryanswamy temple is richly endowed, having the patronage of the Rajas of Mysore. In 1614, King Raja Wodeyar I (ruled 1578–1617), who first acquired Srirangapatnam and accepted the Srivaishnava priest as his guru, handed over to the temple and to the Brahmins at Melkote, the estate granted to him by Vijayanagara Emperor Venkatapati Raya. While that estate was lost when Zamindari was abolished in the 1950s, the temple still possesses many properties and valuables, in particular an extremely valuable collection of jewels. On one of the pillars of navaranga of the Cheluva Narayanaswami temple is a bas-relief about one and a half feet high, of Raja Wodeyar, standing with folded hands, with his name inscribed on the base. He was said to have been a great devotee of the presiding deity and a frequent visitor to the temple. A gold crown set with precious jewels was presented by him to the temple. This crown is known as the Raja-mudi (royal crown), a play on the name of Raja Wodeyar, the donor. According to legend, King Raja Wodeyar was last observed entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord on the day of his death, and was seen no more afterwards. From the inscriptions on some of the gold jewels and on gold and silver vessels in the temple it is learnt that they were presents from Krishnaraja Wadiyar III and his queens. Krishnaraja Wodeyar III also presented to the temple a crown set with precious jewels. It is known after him as Krishnaraja-mudi. The Vairamudi, the diamond crown, is older than  Raja-mudi and the Krishnaraja-mudi. However, it is not known who presented it to the temple.Tipu Sultan had donated elephants to the temple.

         The Yoga Narasimhaswamy temple on top of the hill is dedicated to Lord Yoga Narsimha. As per legend the image was installed by Prahlada himself. There is large pond at the temple. Krishnaraja Wodeyar III of Mysore presented a gold crown to Lord Yoga Narasimha. The images depicted show the beautiful  sculpted gateway and sculptures at the temples on the vimana and  pillars.

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Yoga Narasimha temple, Melkote.

By Philanthropist 1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13254334

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Carved lions, Melkote.

By Sbblr0803 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia CommonsFile:Melukote- Gateway.JPG

Gateway, Rayagopura, Cheluvanarayanswamy temple, Melkote.

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

 

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Sculpture, Melkote.

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

File:Yoga Narasimha.JPG

Yoga Narasimha Temple, Melkote.

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

File:Close up view of the decorated vimana of Sri Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple, Melkote.jpg

Vimana, Chevulanarayanaswamy temple, Melkote.

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

File:Ornate pillars in a mantapa in the Cheluvarayaswamy temple at Melukote.jpg

Carved pillars, Cheluvanarayana temple, Melkote.

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

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Temple tank, Cheluvanarayaswamy temple, Melkote.

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

File:Melukote- Sculptures at Cheluvanarayana Temple.JPG

Pillar, Cheluvanarayana temple, Melkote.

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

 

References :

  • The Narayanswami temple at Melkote/ Vasantha, R, Mysore : Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, 1991.
  • wikipedia.org

 

 

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

©author

 

Terracotta art of Bengal : music and dance depictions

       The music of India is highly developed and a sophisticated product of an ancient culture. Lord Shiva’s mystic dance symbolises the rhythmic motion in the universe. Music is sound in rhythm. Goddess Saraswati is represented as the goddess of art and learning and is seen sitting on a white lotus with a veena in one hand and playing it with another, a book in the third hand and a necklace of pearls in the fourth hand. Sage Bharata is believed to have taught the arts to apsaras, the heavenly dancers. Narada muni who wanders both on earth and heaven playing his veena taught the art to men. In Indra’s heaven, Gandharvas are the singers , apsaras are the dancers, and the centaur-like beings the Kinnaras play musical instruments. Gandharva veda means the art of music.

      A very wide variety of musical instruments were used in Vedic times, both percussion and stringed. The ordinary drum was the dundhubi. Adambara, bhumi dundhubi were others. Aghati was a cymbal which accompanied dancing. The kandaveena was a kind of lute, karkari, another kind of lute, vana , a lute of 100 strings and the veena. The veena is suitable to all types of Indian music. Indian stringed instruments include the veena, an instrument which consists of a large bowl, hollowed out of one piece of wood. The flat top of this bowl is one foot in diameter. A bridge is placed on the bowl and near it are anumber of small sound holes. The veena is played using finger nails or using a plectrum. Sitar, dilruba,esraj,ektara are other stringed instruments. Sarangi, surbahar are also stringed instruments. Kinnari is a primitive Indian instrument supposed to have been invented by Kinnara , one of the musicians in Indra’s heaven. It has representation in sculpture and paintings. It has 2-3 strings, sound is not very strong.

    Sculptures of many musical instruments exist on old cave temples and Buddhist stupas.  Amaravati  and Sanchi depict many such sculptures.  Music and dance have been depicted in the terracotta sculptures in the late medieval temples of Bengal as well. Showcased below are two temples; the Madan-mohana temple  at Bishnupur and the Hangseswari  temple complex at Hooghly, both in West Bengal.

    The Madana-mohana temple built by Maharaja Durjana Singh Deva is a ekratna, having a single spire on a plinth with a portico in the centre. It is dedicated to Lord Krishna as the name suggests. There are two magnificent pillars at the entrance with ornate terracotta sculptures. The pillars  depict scenes from the Ramayana and scenes from Lord Krishna’s life from his cowherd days. One can find musician and dancer depictions here. The dancers are in different poses and the musicians are seen playing instruments.  Floral designs are seen between the human sculptures as rows adding a sense of  balance.The scenes are full of vitality, joy and convey a celebration of life !

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Madana-Mohana Temple, Bishnupur,Bankura,West Bengal.

By Abhijit Kar Gupta (Flickr: Madana-Mohana Temple, Bishnupur – I) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Musicians and dancers, Madana-mohana Temple, Bishnupur, Bankura,West Bengal.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kgabhi/8386174380/

    The Hangseswari temple at Hooghly has a very interesting history and architecture. The area of Bansberia next to the River Ganges, in Hooghly district was gifted to a zamindar Rameshwar Ray by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb along with the title of  Raja in 1673. He settled down there along with his family. His kin continued to stay there.  The area came to be known as  the Royal Estate. The temple  was started to be built by Raja Nrisinhadeb Ray from late 18th century  and completed by his wife Rani Shankari  in 1814 and dedicated to a form of Goddess Kali, Hangseswari.  The deities of both Shiva and Shakti are present. The temple has thirteen spires and five stories which represent the ida, pingala, Bajraksha, Sushumna and chitrini of the human body parts according to Tantric texts. The king had studied the system of kundalini during his stay at Varanasi and decided to build a temple according to the concept. Marble was brought from Chunar near Varanasi for use in the temple. The spires represent blooming lotus buds; a metallic idol of the  Sun-God is inscribed on the top of the central spire. The inner structure of the building follow the design of the human anatomy.  The temple complex also has the Ananta-Basudeba temple and the Swanbhaba Kali temple, built by Raja Nrisinhadeb Ray in 1788. Both are terracotta temples and have exquisite sculptures on them.

Hanseswari Mandir - East View - Bansberia Royal Estate - Hooghly - 2013-05-19 7547.JPG

Hangseswari temple, Hooghly, West Bengal.

Biswarup Ganguly [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Dancers, Rasmancha, Hangseshwari temple, Hooghly,West Bengal.
Source : wikivisually.com/wiki/Hangseshwari_temple
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Ananta-Basudeb temple, Hooghly, West Bengal.
By Amartyabag (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Part of the entrance wall.JPG
Carvings, Ananta-Basudeb temple, Hooghly, West Bengal.
By Kinkiniroy2012 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21683542
 
Terracotta Panel, Ananta-Basudeb temple, Hooghly, West Bengal.
 
Terracotta Panel, Ananta-Basudeb temple, Hooghly, West Bengal.

References :

  • Terracotta art of Bengal/Biswas,S.S,Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan,1981.
  • Bengal temples/Dutta, Bimal Kumar , New Delhi : Mushiram Manoharlal,1975.
  • wikipedia.org
  • journeymart.com
  • chitolekha.com

 

 

Posted by:

Soma Ghosh

© author