Great works of art catch the eye of many. There are numerous studies, research papers, coffee table books that are brought out, thousands of people take photographs of them and a google search would through up hundreds of links. But then there are some offbeat ones, which sit nestled in pristine surroundings, seemingly still lost in time, waiting to be discovered, for their time under the Sun - or do they prefer to remain like that - in total obscurity. But then, its the question of identity - the flutter in the heart, the mist in the eye, the shiver in the goosebumps - the pride of knowing the greatness of the land you hail from. Surely, we got to take better care of them and showcase their beauty for all to see.

Such was the experience for us, as we walked past eye catching greenery and acres of land which was a visual overdose, for these days you hardly get to see the horizon with the array of high rises, suddenly a small structure came into view.


This is Moovar Koyil - or three temples - but hold on, there are only two vimanas left but you do get to see the base remnants of the now lost three vimana. This little gem of a masterpiece of sculptural beauty is the work of Bhuti Vikramakesari - the Irukuvel chief of the Kodumbalur clan, along with his two queens and a monastry of Kalamuka ascetics. The Kodumbalur clan, were political allies of the Cholas for a long time and this particular king was a contemporary ( can i say fiduciary or subordinate) of Sundara Chola - Parantaka II ( i can see the eye brows going up for all Ponniyin selvan fans ..Yes it is he - the father of Raja Raja Chola)

From a distance, the site does tend to fall a bit short of your expectations. But hold your horses, even inch of space of this is a treat.


Maybe to highlight that this site aims to look at things differently, i am going to start this series on the moovar koil treasures, by showing a very tiny but equally interesting sculpture - bypassing the bigger and larger beauties. I do have a vested interest in doing so, for he is one of my cute cuddly favorites.

First, to show you where he is - he is part of the bootha regai ( line of Bootha or goblin freezes)


Lets step closer and see if you can spot my friend.


Ok, let me narrow your search range.


Oh, such a cutie -showing off his belly art.


Did you spot him, yet


He does look a bit grumpy today!!

The question to us is, the bootha regai runs through the entire length of that row around the vimana, and the other vimana as well. There are many bootha ganas depicted doing various acts and many times they are repeated, but this particular fellow is unique. We found him in the Great Penance Panel in Mahabalipuram, in Pullamangai, in Srinivasnallur and now here - always just only once in the site. What is his role and why the tiger face in the belly.

Hang on for the rest of the series, when we look at the `main’ beauties from moovar koil.

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22 Comments so far


I have never gone to those areas. I’ll make it a point next time to visit.

Most of the time we rush and try to cover many places on a single day and hence have not got time to view and enjoy the way you do it.
So, please keep doing the good work. You seems to be blessed.


March 29th, 2010 at 18:07

coments not getting saved in the page for “The Dance of Shiva - A Study on The Tiruvalangadu Nataraja at Madras Museum, by Auguste Rodin”

My comment for it,

Everything is fine about it except the comparison. Siva is dancing with his legs raised-crossed and why this has to be compared with another western art form which is mainly focused on its nude form and its sense of shyness.
Nata’ Raja is in its most of the dance pose more or less in the above form. Westener’s comparison makes a lots of difference.
This man has dealt it with purity. But many a time I think his is not so with others and this has influenced the thoughts of our people and thought process is travelling to the other extreme.
May be from now putting band may not be enough.

In Sirgazhi Sattainathar temple we can see Siva in Nirmalyam, a huge Siva Parvathy Thapas form ( rare moorthy forms of Siva). you may be knowing.


March 29th, 2010 at 18:11

மூவர் கோயில் முற்றிலும் புதியது. ஆனால் அது வியாக்ரபாதர் தானா? குபேரன் போல் தோன்றுகிறது. ம்ம்ம்ம்ம்ம்ம்?? பார்க்கலாம்!

March 29th, 2010 at 19:04

பெரிசு பண்ணிப் பார்த்தாலும் எனக்கு என்னமோ குபேரன் என்றே தோன்றுகிறது! குபேரனுக்கு இந்த உருவம் கிடைத்ததும் ஒரு சாபத்தினால் அன்றோ?? அந்தக் கதை!ம்ம்ம்ம்ம் எங்கே வச்சிருக்கேன், தேடிப் பார்க்கிறேன்.

March 29th, 2010 at 19:06

hello geetha madam, this is not vyagarapathar. here we have a bootha gana with a tiger face in the belly


March 29th, 2010 at 19:12

hello sir, its only natural that you use examples with which you are accustomed to. the greatness of rodin is in the way he could drink in the essence of this bronze..


March 29th, 2010 at 19:14
Kathie B.

great spotting! Thanks for giving me a new one! I was there once, but not looking very carefully. Yes, very grumpy.

March 29th, 2010 at 19:27
rhoda alex

Full many a tiger belly, grumpy
In their bhutha regai, sat unseen
Till vj brought them out
One by one to see the sun .

p.s. with shivering goosebumps !!

nice writing and spotting vj…but why do you call them tiger face and say not a lion face

March 30th, 2010 at 13:35
rhoda alex

one more question…are all the tiger belly bhutas found facing the same direction in each of the temples?

March 30th, 2010 at 13:49

hi rhoda,

well - i cant see the mane - maneless lions ( hmm - reminds me of ghost and the darkness - the original lions of tsavo were maneless) - tiger belly has a ring to it ( lion belly hmmm)

as regards orientation - is a subject that needs to be studied.


March 30th, 2010 at 14:17

From Dr R.N.

“Dear vijay The face onthe belly is called Udaramukha. though it may
occur occassionally here and there in Mallai”

March 30th, 2010 at 14:21

interesting - he is in ellora as well. The cave 32 pasavanath - notice the ghana just by his left hand…



March 30th, 2010 at 14:41
Kathie B.

I have a belly face from Badami, outside cave #2 I think, from my last trip ‘09. I’ll send. Doesn’t look very tiger-y.

April 4th, 2010 at 23:52

hi kathie…

great - waiting..let me also check my archives!!


April 5th, 2010 at 7:05
Kathie B.

a Jaina belly face at Ellora. I think that’s
new. Thanks

April 6th, 2010 at 2:55

Good deduction again, usually I do not give much attention to these ganas on my previous trips, however now I feel that yes I did miss something which could be interesting. Anyway, its a learning that I have to be more careful in my studies :).

May 28th, 2010 at 16:29

is this not the kirtimukha on his belly? the velachery Dandiswara temple has a nice one and several others in very comic poses

May 31st, 2010 at 12:39

hi saurabh - we have a fan club for these cute fellas. thanks for joining.

@ Pradeep - yes, do you have a snap of the dandiswara kirthimuka - we are collecting these - have featured some in the links

May 31st, 2010 at 12:42

recent photos

February 7th, 2011 at 15:40

Is it a tiger face or a yali?
The Bootha ganas actually/symbolically support the roof/vimana. Among the bootha regai round the Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur, there is one lying with face and body up and a toe in its mouth like a baby, which can be spotted from the flight of stairs (to our right after worshipping the Mahalingam) leading down to the prakara. It was pointed out to us by a temple staff, who called it the image of the infant Krishna. I could not accept his judgement/conclusion about the image.
This one came to my mind as a boothagana is discussed here.

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Poetry In Stone « Blog Archive » Here we go - one more tiger belly! Kodumbalur Moovar Koil…

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