Tuesday, May 31, 2011

As i enter inside the temple, all i see is a dark room with rows of pillars. These pillars are extraordinarily carved with miniature designs. There are 48 pillars inside DSC00714the temple and each is unique it its design, each of the intricately carved. The four central pillars are a marvel. These four pillars bear madanikas(Celestial damsels) and there are 42 of them, 4 inside the hall and the rest outside all round the main shrine. They are depicted in various forms, such as, dancers, musicians and drummers and are rarely erotic in nature.

The temple is divided into three, a garbhagriha (sanctum), the vestibule and the rangamantapa. The sanctum is guarded by the dwarapalakas of Lord Vishnu, Jaya and Vijaya and they are heavily decorated with ornaments. Above the entrance to the sanctum, is the makaratorana. Makara, as we know is a mythical creature having legs of a Lion, body like a boar, ears of a cow, eyes of a monkey, mouth of a crocodile,  elephant’s trunk and with feathers like a peacock. This animal is the vehicle of the rain god Varuna.

We talked about the madanika forms on the pillars in here. They are so intricately carved that a stone pendant which on one figure can be moved even though its made up of a single stone. Also there is a one figure which wear bangles that can be moved. Even here the entire structure is a monolith. Such was the mastery of DSC00713the sculptors of that time. The name of the architects is found on pillars and pedestals of these madanika figures.

There is one unique pillar on the ceiling here and the entire thing is carved like an interlocking system. There is a 3 feet protrusion from the ceiling and the bottom of it is carved in the form of Narasimha, the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Also there is a lotus petal which symbolizes Brahma. This protrusion is in the form of an inverted Siva Linga and this ceiling marks the culmination of the three supreme powers in the form of Bhuvaneshwari. This form of a ceiling is found only in three places in India, the other two being the temple in Somnathpur and thDSC00719e Dilwara Temple in Mount Abu Rajasthan.

I was talking about the pillars inside. Each pillar is entirely unique in its design and is made of five sections an weighs around 4000 - 5000 kilograms. The designs on these pillars inspire the bangle designs as well as sarees. There are two important pillars. Lets talk about the Mohini first. Mohini is the female form of Lord Vishnu. The hands of the sculpture was broken during the siege in the 14th century. The pillar and the the sculpture are together monolith and its amazing to see that a small twig passes through the carved crown. This sculpture also talks about the perfect proportion of the human body and the the legend that a women whose second finger of the toe is bigger is more dominating.

The second pillar is tDSC00725he Narasimha which was carved in such a way that it rotates on its base. It uses the stone ball bearing system. The extraordinary feature of this pillar is that whatever carvings that we find inside and outside of the temple can be found on this pillar. So this is like a miniature of art. There is the artists signature on this pillar too. What i have observed in other temples in parts of India reflects here. A little part of the pillar is left untouched. This is a typical artist signature which challenges others to carve something like him in the same small place. This pillar not only has length and breadth but also depth. That is the best thing about this. Smallest designs are shown here like a betel nut sized elephant, bull and a small idol of Lord Ganesha.

I spent around 15 minutes inside the temple exploring everything and then move out to cover the outer structures.


Anonymous said...

Hari,The way u describe the temples,sculptures and its construction is really great.I felt as if I visited them.Espiecially Chennakesava temple and Kanchipuram.

Deguide said...

Chennakesava temple reflects the zenith of Hoysala architecture. Good description of the inside architecture and sculptures.

the mind behind the mindless lampoons said...

Reading this, memory catapulted me back to our last school trip to this place and Somnathpur..That was over two decades ago.This write up served well to refresh those energy spiraling moments.

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