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Archives by Month: April, 2009


Vilupuram Sengi Road. around 11.30 noon

Ragothaman: Hey, its getting really hot. we have been driving for almost an hour, how far did we come 30 kms
Chandru: Just under 30 kms, we need to turn right before that
Narayanaswamy: Oh, how far have we come as of now
Driver: 27 kms done sir
Satheesh: Hey, there is the ASI board, road to Pallava cave Dhalavanur
Vj: Atlast, we are there. Is it that hillock
Chandru: No, we need to go another 6 kms from the main road.
Venkatesh: ok, then it can’t be this chain of hills
Chandru: This cave is very easy to spot. You can see it from the road,but cant drive near. You got to park and walk for say 200 mtrs.

Venkatesh: There, there, can see it from here itself. What a wonderful location. Mahendra’s choice is indeed spell binding. amidst rolling green farms, the rock outcrop offers a spectacular setting.

the location

Chandru: Park the vehicle, by the side of the road, we need to walk up from here.
Farmer: Hey, don’t walk on the field, walk on the raised boundaries. we have just sown.
Vj: sorry we didn’t know. Wow, you got a pump set going, the cool water is inviting…

the cave dhalavanur
the huge boulder into which the cave is escavated

Ashok: What a setting. Its more a giant boulder than a hill
Venkatesh: Super spot
Vj: Hi chandru sir, the cave’s got an iron gate and is locked.
Chandru: The guard must be around here somewhere.

the dhalavanur cave front view

Farmer: Hi, i have the keys. They gave it to me , i only take care. They dont pay me any Salary !! if we don’t lock it the spoilt brats from the city come and …

Vj: ok, ok, we understand. We are not like that. Chandru sir, what pathetic work, how could they put these door frames on these stone pillars. and the blue paint, what a disgrace. they guy couldn’t even be careful enough not to spill on the pillar. and that too right over the superb pillar carvings…!! senseless brain dead @@@@@@

art protection
heavy price for protection
right over the floral patterns

Ashok: Hi vj, see up.what is that

the external makara thorana and koodu

Satheesh: Hey vj, see this beautiful set of Makara thoranas - facing each other. there are small ganas riding them as well

the left makara thorana
the makarathorana and koodu combo
the right makara thorana
the central gana in the makara thorana

Vj: Hey that is a kapota - kind of decorative arch with a face just peeping out. Reminds me of a cave in the Ellora group. need to check. Yes, satheesh wonderful stone work. reminds me of a similar one from Cambodia. will check !!!

another koodu
another koodu 2

Ashok: the door guardians are splendid. Look at their relaxed poses. They are majestic

the right outside door guardian
the left outside door guardian

vj: yes, the clothing styles and the left hand side guardians mace are very similar to Mandagapattu. See there are another set of them inside guarding the main shrine as well.
satheesh: see the inside structure, very different
Venkatesh: see that large crack running right across !!
Ragothaman: as we enter we seem to be inside a hall and then turn left to see the main shrine. very different perspective

floor plan

Vj: yes ragu, another set of mahendra pillars and two pillasters form a mini shrine inside the structure. The door guardians here are also in low relief, sculpted in profile, slightly turned in, classic pallava style. See the detailing on their dress and ornaments

the main shrine flanked by door guardians
the main shrine with the mahendra style pillars
the inside left door guardian
the inside right door guardian
closeup of the inside left door guardian
closeup of the inside right door guardian
look at the dressing style of the door guardian
the right hand signalling the lord of the door guardian
the rightside door guardian

Farmer: Can i show the camphor
All: Here we are all here, wonderful darshan of shiva
Vj: Satheesh, what is the name of the Lord.
Satheesh: Let me check in the book, Satrumalleshwaraaalayam
Vj: any inscriptions
Chandru: Yes, Pallava grantam of Mahendra again

the inscription

Satheesh: Let me read

This rock cut cave shrine on top of the hillock called sathrumalleswaraalayam was excavated by the one who humbled many kings by the might of his army, the one titled narendra shatrumallan.

vj: Shatrumallan - lovely name. Ashok, see here, they have started putting floral designs on the pillars here as well. But the top is not fluted.

the inner pillar design - top no flutes

Venkatesh: Come lets go on to the top and see the Jaina beds.
Narayanswamy: Is it very steep
Vj: Not that steep, they have cut steps in the stone like a ladder. so its easier. Ashok, you come as well

not very easy

Venktesh: Oh, what a view, what a location. Its breezy and cool depsite the sun at noon.

view from the top
views from the top
views from the top2

Ashok: must have brought our lunch from the car, we could have finished it here
Venkatesh: you are saying now, it would have been great
vj: From here you get an excellent view of all surrounding areas
Venkatesh: yep, but those coming up cant see, but the guys here can. Excellent location to hide and live in seclusion - foolproof safety precautions

But why did they have to hide and live in seclusion !!

Vj: This jaina bed is too comfortable, didn’t realise it will be so. My eyes are drooping.
Chandru: comes on guys, lets move on
The pump set - cool wash…hmm am hungry

Next on the agenda - Lakshithayanam, Mandagapattu Mahendra cave.

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We return today with a fascinating legend, supported by three sculptures. Two from Darasuram and one from Krishnapuram. Thanks to Mr Arvind Venkatatraman for lovely pictures from Darasuram. we got an unexpected Bonus from Artist A.P. Sreethar, sharing this rare sketch of the Krishnapuram pillar by the legendary Artist Silpi as well.

While there are many different versions of this legend, am trying to give the simplest ( and less controversial one). More so, since this legend doesn’t appear in the main Mahabaratha, i am taking one that has just about enough information to support the sculptures exhibited.

Yudhistir is performing a great Yaga ( sacrifice). He is advised that inorder for it to be performed properly he needs the help ( milk of !! by some versions) Purushamriga - a half man half tiger ( or lion), which is a staunch devotee of Shiva. Trouble is the creature resides deep in a jungle and preys on almost anyone it sees. ( other versions bring in a Shivaite /Vaishnavite angle to this debate)

Bhima is selected for this task and wily Krishna gives him 12 stones ( lingas, rudrahsa by other versions) and asks him to use it when he is in trouble. Bhima sets off to find the Pururshamriga and finds it deep inside the jungle. By one version they agree to a challenge - kind of a running race, in other versions he chants something that upsets it. Well back to the story, Bhima is being chased by the Purushamriga and its catching up with him at a fast pace. Bhima decides to use the `stones’ and drops one. Instantly it turns into a Shiva LInga ( shiva temple in some accounts) - anyway the animal being a stauch shiva devotee has to worship the Lord, giving Bhima much needed time to put some distance between them. But the animals superior speed enables it to catch up with him once more and he uses one more of the stones. Thus he uses up all 12 ` help lines’ but he is still not out of the forest. He uses all his strength and just as he puts one leg outside the forest, his other leg is caught by the Purushamriga. An argument ensures and Yudhistr is called on to pass judgement.

Yudhistir being the just king that he is, rightly !! passes the judgment that the Purushamriga can have half of Bhima ( the portion within its territory). The impartial judgment makes the Purushamriga let go of Bhima and all is well.

OK, now to the sculptures. Two delightful panels from Darasuram. You can see in the first one you can see the chase. The Purushamriga seems to be hardly taxed and is about to grab Bhima.

bhima vs purushamriga darasuram

The second panel, it has caught him and both are in front of Yudhistir ( who has a lady attending on him).

purushamriga darasuram

The Krishnapuram pillar sculpture is more elaborate and seems to be depicting a fight scene almost - maybe when the Pururshamriga caught up with Bhima. Both are holding small maces..

purushamriga n bhima krishnapuram.jpg

Now, we see the master strokes of Artist Silpi who has caught this pillar in his immortal work here.

krishnapuram silphi sketch.jpg

Amazing sculpture and an inspiring sketch.

update+++++++++++
pl do visit Sri Raja Deekshithar’s wonderful site for more of these beauties. Sadly, sir left us this year. http://www.sphinxofindia.rajadeekshithar.com/

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