Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thirukurungudi - Part 1 (Tirunelveli - Tamil Nadu)

The place I was really looking forward to, was Thirukkurungudi Nambi Temple! A fantabulous, gorgeous temple... 
It took quite some time for me to even enter the temple, I spent quite some time outside!!! 

The broad outer wall had relief sculptures at regular intervals, incl. Maha Vishnu, Sri Rama, Gaja Samhara Murthy, Kankaalamurthy, Ulagalandha Perumal, Hanuman, 
And as usual, like many other temples here, like you saw at Brahmadesam, just above the ceiling are these animals, esp. monkeys which almost looked like, they're gonna pounce on you!
Just as I entered, there were 6 pilasters (pillars attached to wall), filled with tiny little intricate relief sculptures. The cutest one was definitely the Gaja Samhara Murthy. Apart from regulars there were Bikshadana, Mohini, Rishabanthaka, Krishna leela Vastrabagarana, Arjunan Thapas etc. 
Just inside, there were sculptures, just like how they were outside. This series also included a Garuda Sevai, Urdhva Thandavam etc.
The Gopuram of the temple was getting cleaned when I ventured here, however I did have a chance to go up and see the sculptures there upclose. That's coming  up in the upcoming posts! 





As soon as you enter, there's a mandapam filled with mind blowing pillars with larger-than-life sized sculptures! The detailing on each of them was just awesome. Very small details like the nails of the men and women were perfectly shown!!!
The Lord Vishnu here is called Vaishnava Nambi and his consort is Thirukurungudi Nachiar. Again here its an Ashtanga Vimana meaning there are 3 storeys of Sanctum Sanctorum similar to Mannarkoil, with Lord Vishnu in standing, seated, and reclining postures, all facing east.


Simpler pillars had simpler relief sculptures. Here are some depicting Krishna leela. This is just the 1st part of 3 parts series on the sculptural marvel of the temple. Wait n watch!!!

TO GET THERE:
From Tirunelveli: 40km via Nanguneri

Dedicated to Prof.Swaminathan & Co...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Valeeswaram (Thirunelveli - Tamil Nadu)

Valeeswaram has a beautiful stone vimana, built in 10th C CE, majorly by Cholas. The Lord Shiva here is Vaaleeswarar, facing east. 

All the walls are filled with several inscriptions which belong too all major kingdoms - chola, chola-pandya & pandya! One particular inscription talks about King Rajaraja chola and his contribution of land.
The color of the granite here is a beautiful red! A row of yaali and a row of boothagana are below the vimana. Inquisitive ganas indeed, playing musical instruments and dancing!
The sculptures around the vimana are the most important feature here to be noted. 

On the south are a Dakshinamurthy and dancing Nataraja at the centre. On the right and left were Rishabanthaka Murthy, Alingana murthy, and Ardhanarishwara. 
On the west are a Lingothbavar and Yoga Naraswimhar. The Lingothbavar is tad interesting! The wild boar which beneath the earth searching for Lingothbhavar's legs, is there along the yaali-s in the yaali row. 

On the right and left are Kankalamurthy, a seated Shiva burning Manmadha with Rathi overlooking, Tripurantaka and Rama. 

On the north are a very beautiful Gaja Samhara murthy and seated Brahma at the centre. On the left and right are Siva Parvathi on Rishabam, 2 more scenes of Lord Shiva and a standing lady! 

In the east were sculptures of Indra on elephant. On the left and right were Kannappa Nayanar and possibly at Parashurama!
All around beyond the outer circum-ambulation passage, along the compound wall is a simple mandapam. At the entrance, of this passage, are 2 simha thoon, standing lions!!!
Btw, that's the shot of a jet that was flying above, taken with my 55-250 lens!

TO GET THERE:

Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan & Co.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mannarkoil (Tirunelveli - Tamil Nadu)

Mannarkoil was also in a quaint little village. However the roads were too good. 
The temple is called Rajagopalaswamy Kulasekara Perumal temple, after Kulasekara Azhwar, one of the 12 Vaishnavite saints found enlightened here, after waging several wars!!! Reminds of Samrat Ashok, right??!!!
The God here is Veda Narayana Perumal and his consort is Vedavalli & Bhuvanavalli. The temple has ashtanga vimana, meaning it has 3 floors of sanctum sanctorum. On the ground is a standing, 1st floor is He's seated and 2nd floor where he's reclining in Ananta Sayana posture!

Here again very similar to most temples in this region, this too was patronized by all Chera, Chola, Pandya and Vijayanagara kings! The foundation inscriptions give away a lot of information about it all. By 11th C, Rajendra Chola had made great contributions to this temple, that this region was called Rajendra Vinnagaram. Later on Rajasimman Cheran & Jatavarma Chozha Pandta have also contributed for this temple. 

Just above the foundation inscriptions at regular intervals are little squares of about 5" x 5", which have scenes of Ramayana sculpted on them, like Gopurapatti. A few other scenes were are present. 

The yaali row was indeed exquisite. Some of them had riders on them! In their midst were some elephants as well!

Some elaborate sculptures are in the mandapam. 
Wooden detailing are here in the 1st and 2nd floor - the ceiling, entrance of sanctum sanctorum, window sill etc...
As I came out of the temple, was this really ruined house in the main street. Couldn't help but get a pic of myself at that house too!!!

TO GET THERE:

Dedicated to Prof.Swaminathan & Co..

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Brahmadesam (Tirunelveli - Tamil Nadu)

Brahmadesam, was located in a quaint little village. The day being a holiday, just outside the magnificent gopuram were young lads playing gully cricket, in front of a mandapam and temple pond which were on either sides of the street!

The mandapam was a very simple one, but one factor in it just intrigued me! The sculptures over the roof - sparrows, cats, monkeys, snakes, tortoises, jackals etc!!!! That too they were not posing, they were so so dynamic that they looked like they might just pounce on you any moment now!!!!

Just as I entered the temple, came the next awesome thing - the door!!!! The mighty wooden door, very intricately sculpted!!! Each door has 30 scenes sculpted onto it.
Apart from regular scenes depicted from puranas, it also included some erotic scenes as well. As the first instance I thought it was a man trying to kill another by breaking the neck. Only on closer inspection did I find its actually a man kissing his lady!!!
Inside, on the Maha Mandapam was a very handsome, dark nandi! The entrance to the Ardha Mandapa again has an exquisite wooden carved entrance and a wooden lady welcoming all!!!
The influence of Cheras is very much blatant is most of the temples in this region with the impeccable wooden carvings! This was probably built in 10th C by the Cholas, and later on enhanced by Cheras, Pandyas and Vijaya Nagara Kings! The Lord Shiva here is Kailasanathar and his consort is Periyanayaki.

Sculptural-ly the important feature here is the mandapam on the side. Right from the steps everything here is detailed! The railing on the sides have elephant, yaali and few more sculptures, the entire mandapa is filled with yaali pillars! 
An important shrine here is of Kankalanathar. The 7 ft tall, stand alone sculpture, of Lord Shiva as an ascetic with the corpse of Vishvaksena over his shoulder. Around him are 6 boothaganas. Around them on the wall, are the relief sculptures of Surya, Chandra, Vinayaka, Subrahmanya, Indira, Kimpurusha, Kinnnaras, Kubera, Brahma, Vishnu etc. A few other stand alone sculptures of dancing women & apsaras, made of plaster in various other periods, are placed around, to make the scene more complete!
Btw, talking about my animal luck - spotted a cute little poor puppy that was eating coconut! Sadly I had absolutely nothing to feed it and there was no shops around where I could buy a biscuit pack. If you're heading there, pls take one and feed those poor souls too!!!


TO GET THERE:


Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan & Co.
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