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Archives by Month: September, 2008

Okkaneshwara long shot.jpg
okkaneshwara location.jpg
not many looking at the temple.jpg

Today we are going to see a unique structure in mallai, sadly not many go to view this amazing place, not just for its beauty but also for its great view. With the new lighthouse ( which itself was commissioned in 1887 !) offering a nice offset, lot of people do capture this structure albeit in long shots. Kind of Old vs new but its more sad since this is probably one of the most unique structures of Mallai.

Why we call it unique, is because its a structural temple and not a rock cut/cave temple like the rest of the sculpture and unlike the shore temple, its build on top of a small hillock. Today the structure is in pretty sad state - nature and the british ( using it as a lighthouse) have taken its toll on the structure. ( images courtesy British library)

An antique snap ( early 1900's) thanks to british library.jpg
a rare plate showing the oldlighthouse.jpg
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a rare antique plate - notice the broken pillar.jpg
an even earlier painting.jpg

From the pictures you could get a good idea on the location, it can reached by climbing a flight of steps adjoining the Mahishasuramardhini cave.

the splendor of okkaneshwara.JPG
The amazing panels.JPG
amazing door guardian.jpg
rajasimha lions and door guardian.jpg

But the temple is still braving the odds and has some very unique sculptures. The rajasimha lions / vyala’s are there on the corner pillars of Garbha Griham and ardha mandabam, and a few of our favorite shiva ganas - amazingly funny and endearing characters these dwarfs.( like children waiting for their dad to come back from work with trinkets)

faithful ganas watcing over passing ships.jpg
old overlooking the new, the rajasimha stamp.jpg
our freind again.jpg
amazing view.jpg
like children waiting for their dad.jpg

Now the name, i learnt it after reading Mr. Swaminathan’s work on mallai ( shortly coming out as a book and a must read)

Quote”
We understand that it was the practice in those days of collecting a measure of oil (Uzhakku-ennai) from the community for the permanent light of this temple. Thus it came to be called Uzhakku-Ennai-Isvarar Temple. Olakkaneswra is its corruption is a view.”

only the door guardians remain.jpg
our two friends again.jpg
amazing door guardian.jpg
shiva dancing over demon.jpg

There are three relief sculptures on the outer walls: on the south is Dakshinamurti, Siva as a teacher, heralding a practice in all Siva temple then on, Siva as the divine dancer ( visitors to Kanchi kailasanatha would recognise this )on the eastern wall and finally, on the north side, an exquisite relief of Siva subduing Ravana who had the temerity to lift Mount Kailasa.”

check.jpg
shiva as the amazing dancer.jpg
ravana anugraha murthy.jpg

The beauty of this sculpture is amazing, you can still see the crescent moon gracing shiva’s locks and the scream emanating from ravana’s mouths.

Sadly our modern day Kings and their consorts have decided that these creations should be graced with their names as well. A thousand year heritage being defaced thus, cant they find better avenues to exhibit their love.

ravana okkaneshwarasadly disfigured by grafetti.jpg
ravana screaming.jpg

( Thanks to Mr. Swaminathan for taking the time to do the Mallai trip for Ponniyin selvan friends and pictures by Sri. Shriram, Sri. Plastics Chandra and Sri. Vinjamoor Venkatesh)

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We have mostly seen stone sculptures till now, just taking a break to showcase another master creation - in bronze, not just any bronze but a famed chola bronze.

A chance Advt in the local Tv channel led me to go to the Asian civilizations museum in Singapore last june (07). Btw Its located just off raffles MRT across the Singapore river.

The entrance fees were not steep ( sgd 8 for adults and 4 for children) -I was greeted at the entrance itself by a large cut out of a chola bronze - an 11th C Uma Parameshwari. ( my son strikes a pose)

The welcome cutouts.jpg

There were a couple of other chola bronzes ..incl one of young Sambandar dancing. There was also a beautiful stone sculpture of Subramaniar ( Chola Period).

chola bronze sambandar.jpg
chola subramanya.jpg
close up of facial detailing of subramanya.jpg
the museum desciption.jpg

After having seen the cutouts of the bonze, couldn’t wait to see the piece in person. So i kind of rushed through all the other exhibits and almost ran to the main hall. The piece de resistance - the Uma paramershwari idol was a special exhibit

I was stunned into silence on the viewing the exhibit. True you have often seen temple bronzes and Panchaloka idols, the small sized but delightfully detailed processional images - but to view a true
masterclass authentic chola Bronze, cast a 1000 years ago,by the lost wax method,a painstaking yet breath taking process - wherein each image is unique, crafted by the expert fingertips of the master sculptor first into bee wax, then covered is special grade sand/clay, fired then in a kiln that melts the wax, leaving the sand cast, then hot metal is poured and then the cast is broken - that’s what I meant by each image is unique.

Bronze_of_Uma_Parameshvari.jpg

The exquisite green sheen lent it an aura of mystic, transcendental beauty, transporting me back in time, I couldn’t just step aside, my total attention riveted and arrested,stunned,for a full ten minutes, maybe such was the greatness of the immovable object in front of me that it poured its characteristics into me,locking me into it,turning me into a statue. My bodily functions, my senses all ceased to respond, all energies focusing instead to highlight the visual overdose that was overpowering, yet casting me into a sense of sheer bliss. The magnificence of this piece was breathtaking yet at the same time poetic, a strange aura of genuine happiness, of seeing the handiwork of a gifted artist over 1000 years ago, surviving and continuing to do its duty - of blending art with spirituality, the mastery of craftsmanship - the statue was at best 2 feet in height, but the detailing was exquisite, the grace and calm of her face and love in the smile,the sharpness of her nose, offsetting the immaculate eye brows, the enchanting eyes, the lovely locks of her hair falling into rolling tresses over her shoulders, the intricate ornaments on his neck, the grace of her poise - the gentle sway accentuating the narrow waist, the beautiful and elaborate work on her lower garments,her hands and fingers bring life to the figurine, she came to life and I became metal. That is the power that a chola bronze can wield over you.

http://www.acm.org.sg/exhibitions/eventdetail.asp?eventID=184

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