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Archives by Month: September, 2008

Couple of weeks back, my good friend Mrs. Lakshmi Sharath asked me to do a guest post on her site.
Travel blogs of a backpacker!

My thanks to Lakshmi for asking me write this blog in her site as a guest. After dabbling in many subjects, I finally found my hearts fill in sculpture. The call of this dying art is unique -these images are dormant yet speak volumes, and like learning a new language once your learn their tongue, its sheer poetry in stone.

Since her site was about backpacking and travel, thought I would mix a bit of both in this post - so I introduce you to a little known monument - Masroor.

Call it serendipity, but i was looking for a good picture of the Mahabalipuram test panel when i came across a familiar face - a real stud who turned out to be my buddy from preschool - Albert. We chatted up and promptly in a couple weeks he sent me some pictures of his visit to Himachal Pradesh, to a hither too unheard of place (at least to me) called Masroor.

masroor long shot.jpg
masroor.jpg

What I saw blew me away. The Masroor temple complex is in Himachal Pradesh ( near Kangra - 20kms and Dharamsala - 45 kms. At a distance the sandstone hill doesn’t quite give up it secrets - a late 8th Century rock cut Shiva temple. Hailing from Chennai Rock cut shrines and caves are my particular favorites, not just for their artistic skill but also for their complexity ( need to carved in situ on live rock - top down) - they are many superb examples of this in South India and western India but had not expected something of this scale,size and most importantly the style.

intricate carvings masroor.jpg
masroor charming.JPG
masroor intricately carved lintel.jpg
masroor maybe muruga.jpg

I am sure all of you have heardof Angkorwat - a 11th Century Cambodian temple complex. What interested me with Masroor is the uncanny resemblance /similarity between these two - complete with the tank in front - beautifully mirroring the structure on top.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/08/photogalleries/Angkor-pictures/

angko.jpg
masroor.jpg

The relief carvings are amazingly detailed but have borne the brunt of nature, yet my imagination runs wild when I think of how these beauties would have looked when they were sculpted or does the aging adding to their beauty. Angkor got its fame from the overgrowth of vegetation and Angelina Jolie/ Lara Croft, maybe Masroor needs
Priyanka Chopra to do a similar one to gain recognition.

Could this have been the inspiration behind Angkor ?

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kannapanayanar.jpg

Darasuram Airavateshwara temple sculpture, an amazing work of the hunter devotee of shiva, kannapar. We will see his story in more detail later, but one curious aspect of this sculpture attracted me to it. Its a splendid depiction of kannapar, the bow slung on his shoulders, the devotion in his face are brilliantly captured. But as you complete the sweep of the eye, the feet and what he wears on them startles you - a pair of lovely sandals.

slippers.jpg

Normally one would refrain from wearing footwear inside Indian temples and so too are the sculptures inside, atleast the majority of them, the exceptions being shiva as the charming ascetic - shiva bhikshadhana and kannappar. Why is he depicted wearing these sandals? to answer that we need to go back to fourth thirumurai ( thanks to Mr. V. Subramanian again for giving me this verse reference)

http://www.thevaaram.org/thirumurai_1/songview.php?thiru=4&Song_idField=40490&padhi=049&startLimit=7&limitPerPage=1&sortBy=&sortOrder=DESC

In short, the ardent devotee kannapar, guarding the shrine of shiva with his bow and arrow on one hand, the cooked meat ( we will see this too later) on the other hand, wearing a large slipper made of animal hide….( and so goes the description)

Darasuram Kannapar.jpg

Now you see how intricately the sculptor has characterised each subject he worked on down to last detail.

Images courtesy

http://www.kumbakonam.info/kumbakonam/darsuam/

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