To continue the thread on the Door guardians - we proceed today to a very innocuous looking temple lost midst all the developments in Kanchi. Arvind had a tough time spotting this temple and many thanks again for his untiring efforts to get us these images from the shrine - The Mathangeshwara Temple ( will feature its twin the Mukteshwara shortly as well).

mathangeshwara kanchi

The dating of this temple is not clear and we will discuss that more once we see Mukteshwara as well, however, stylistically it placed between CE 700 - 800 - in the reign of Nandhivaraman II Pallavamalla. A king with a very interesting ascension, rule n exile - who inspired the Nandhikalambagam to be sung in his praise.

Without diverting from our focus, lets step inside.

Pillars infront of the doorguardians

The lion pillars are obstructing our view of the door guardians.

mathangeshwara left door guardian
mathangeshwara right door guardian

how do they compare with the early Pallava door guardians - Mahendra style? They do look a lot more terrifying - the earlier ones had a mocking look on them. See for yourself.


mandagapattu leftdoor guardian
mandagapattu rightdoorguardian


the right door guardian.jpg
the left door guardian.jpg


the right outside door guardian
the left outside door guardian

We need to study Mathangeshwara more closely.

Left door guardian

mathangeshwara left door guardian
the left door guardian's horns
mace + snake - right side door guardian

The Horns seem a bit more horn and less prongs of a trident ( can’t spot the centre spoke !)

Right door guardian

mathangeshwara right door guardian
the right door guardian's head dress
mace + snake - right side door guardian
is it an axe blade on the crown
is it an axe blade on the crown ( see box)

Is this a variation of the Axe blade - earlier it was vertical and here it seems a horizontal blade !

The most important variation however is the additional two hands - both the door guardians are four armed.

So now comes the trichy question - Vikramaditya II invaded Kanchi around 745 AD, got inspired by Kailasantha Temple, took back the chief sculptors and went about building temples in Pattadakkal. The horns / trident were certainly Pallava features, but what about the additional set of hands of the door guardians ? Was it a Pallava variant or a Chalukyan Variant that reverse flowed into Pallava styling. For that we need to study the Mathangeshwara Icons ( including its twin Mukteshwara ) for stylistic dating comparing with say the Vaikunta Perumal temple - where we have clear timelines established.

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Category: Sculpture

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 at 12:17 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Comment


what happened to their eyes? Whatever damage is post ‘03 when I saw them.

September 20th, 2011 at 16:44

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