Ok, we saw a big post with only one picture in the intro post - so those of you eager to see more of the big temple, apologize for that - but the call of my beloved hero Raja Raja aka ponniyin selvan was too much.
We saw the temple vimanam at a distance - so we approach closer, before the visual spectacle arrests you - lets for a second imagine that someone has blind folded you - and moved you closer to the entrance. We skip the first entrance tower ( which is a later addition) and move your nearer to the second - the Keralantagan ( he who destroyed kerela - one of the first victories of Raja Raja was against the Chera stronghold / martial academy in Kandalur Salai - so his meeikeerthi sings-Kandalur salai kalamarutharuli ) - we skip that one as well and move you to the Raja Rajan gopuram ( The illustrious Arulmozhi took the tile of Raja Raja on his crowning) and slowly remove your blind fold. You open your eyes slowly. what do you see?
You see a Dwarabaalaga - door guardian - we first move you to the right one - with bared fangs and bulging eyes - looking down on you .
You are forced to look down - for his lower right hand is held is a kind of warning pose - Be careful
and then you look at the lower left hand - its says - look down -
there we see a lion,ok and then there is a snake biting something - oh, its swallowing an elephant!!! there is also a crocodile that has been depicted but i don’t have an explanation for that now ( we come to this later)
So we look up again - the upper left hand is pointing inside ( the Lord)
and the upper right hand is raised in Vismaya ( Astonishment)
ok lets read whats implied, beware,see below an elephant is being swallowed by a snake, and i am so much bigger than them - and inside - the God is much much bigger than all of us.
so How big is the door guardian - Ok - lets zoom back - bring a human into frame,hmm lets do better and bring an elephant into the frame -
Now do you get the perception of the scale of the doorguardian.
Now we zoom even more and bring the entire tower into the frame slowly moving backwards …wow -how massive.
The story of the elephant being swallowed is a pointer to the question on the first post as to why the Vimaana in tanjore is taller than the gopuram. A delightful explanation comes from Saint Sambandar’s Devaram.
Where he describes the abode of Shiva - the Holy mountain of Kailash, where there are huge snakes that are capable of swallowing elephants ( actually the right translation of Anaconda - is Aaanai - elephant - Kolran - killer - as per some? but how did a tamil saint envision of amazonian snake and how did the amazonian snake get such a name ?) - in other verses we hear of the lions in kailash ( as did we see in the angkorian ravana shaking episode). So the depiction of these animals are a pointer that the Vimana - true to its name is Dakshina Meru - Southern Kailash - the holy abode of shiva.
Now see the pictures
The first Tower - built during late 14 C
The second Tower Keralanthagan Gopuram
The third tower Rajarajan Gopuram
and finally the Maha meru Vimanam - to truly describe the scale of this edifice requires more posts - so just leave you with some breathtaking visuals ( thanks to friends and Mr Rohan R. Rao
http://rohanrrao.wordpress.com/ for allowing me to post some of his pictures)
There are numerous myths and some little known facts about the great temple. in the coming weeks we will slowly see them…
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