Quantcast

Not all mysteries in archeology need an Indiana Jones or a Lara Croft to make it reveal its secrets, however, if ever there was one that would even baffle them, it is the wonder that stands forgotten in the glory of the famed Murugan temple in Tirupparankundram. That the famed shrine itself is a cave temple is not common knowledge, however there exists another cave at the foothills of the same hill but a little further away to the left as you drive around it.

The main cave face.

cave_face

The first and foremost is the date assignable to the original excavation. The rather plain bulky set of two pillars and pilasters (half pillars) combined with the lack of any artistic fluting on their corbels help us to assign an early 8th C CE date to the cave.
It is very rare to see reliefs on the outer wall of excavated caves as usually we get to so only door guardians. However, in this cave there are many niches into which deep relief sculptures have been carved. We will visit them in the second part of this post as we need to move to the inside - to view some very intricate sculptures, whose superior iconography seem to suggest a 12th C CE to 13th C CE date.

The popular reasoning is that this was an extant Jaina cave which was later converted. Let us look at the shrine that has been cut into the left wall as we enter the cave. Inside this beautifully framed shrine is a relief sculpture of the androgynous from of Shiva as Ardhanari gracefully leaning on his bull mount.

sanctum_tpkundrm

The four armed sculpture has clear demarcation of the Shiva and Sakti portions, with him wearing a thigh length garment while hers is a sari to the knee.

Ardhanari in the Sanctum

ardhanari_cave

For all its grace and form, there are many aberrations in the form. Firstly we do not get to see relief sculptures of this form in any contemporary sites. Secondly it is quite plain that its size is too small for this sanctum’s proportions. The height of the pedestal is more suitable for a seated figure and not a standing figure. The the placement of the bull is also strange. A study of the evolution of the ardhanari form clearly shows the difficulty the sculptor has in balancing the male and female body proportions.

Such early examples are the forms in the Dharmaraja ratha and the Agasteshwara temple in Perungudi. While the Sama banga profile of the Dharamaraja sculpture lacks aesthetic appeal, the problems of the larger male proportions are evident in the Agasteshwara sculpture.

Ardhanari – Dharmaraja Ratha

ardhanari_dharamaraja_ratha

Ardhanari - Agastheswara

ardharari_agastheswara

The sculptors hence bring the Rishabava Vahana and let the form lean on its head to provide the counter balance. This is seen in the later day Chola sculptures including this stunning beauty from Vriddachalam and also seems to be the accepted norm as far as Elephanta.

Ardhanari – Vriddachalam

ardhanari_vriddachalam

Ardhanari - Elephanta

ardhanari_elepanta

The problem now with the Parankundam sculpture is the bull is positioned on the opposite side ie. Not on the male side but is on the female side and hence doesn’t lend the necessary balance to the composition. These are not consistent with the the amount of planning that is needed to complete a rock cut cave shrine.

sanctum

Things seem to further go wrong as we explore the rather crude attempt to shape the pedestal below, but the most crucial aspect of the puzzle rests in the totally unconnected curly patterns on the top.

designs
sanctum_designs

At first glance it would be easy to dismiss them as a tree etc but then only the Daksinamurthy form is shown with a tree canopy on top. This is where we need to explore the Jaina aspects. Take a look at these images.

10thC_hindu_image
K_malai
K_malai2
Tamilnadu_01
jaina_hindu
onambakkam_adinathar

We shall explore more such in part 2….

Photo Courtesy: Mr. Udayan, Mr. Arvind Venkatraman , the hindu archives.
http://www.hindu.com/2003/05/22/stories/2003052203230500.htm
http://www.hindu.com/2006/02/06/stories/2006020602410200.htm
http://www.herenow4u.net/index.php?id=76895

Leave a comment »

Category: Sculpture

Tags:  , ,

Related Posts:

Read this in தமிழ்தமிழ்

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2013 at 15:16 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.

11 Comments so far

  1  

பல தகவல்களை ஆவலுடன் தெரிந்து கொள்ள முடிந்தது…

January 31st, 2013 at 18:41
ramjee
  2  

அழகான விளக்கம். அங்கு குகையின் உள்ளே உள்ள மற்ற சிற்பங்கள் குறித்தும், குகையின் வெளியே உள்ள சிற்பங்கள் சுரித்தும் தகவல்கள் அறிய ஆவலாக உள்ளோம்

January 31st, 2013 at 19:03
rhoda alex
  3  

very nice post…. waiting for part 2

January 31st, 2013 at 19:36
  4  

Incidentally, an excellent exposition of the evolution of the ArdhaNari.

February 2nd, 2013 at 8:11
  5  

hi gopu, here u go http://poetryinstone.in/lang/en/2009/09/04/tracing-the-refinement-of-the-ardhanari-image.html

anbudan
vj

February 2nd, 2013 at 21:19
  6  

திருப்பரங்குன்றகுடைவரை சமணக்குடைவரையாக இருந்து பின்பு மாற்றப்பட்டிருக்கலாம். மலையை சுற்றி வரும் வழியில் அமன்பாழி என்னும் இடம் வரும். (அரசு மருத்துவமனை அருகில்) மலை மேலே உள்ள படிகள் வழியே சென்றால் குகைத்தளம் ஒன்றை காணலாம். அங்கு தமிழ்பிராமிக்கல்வெட்டுகளும், படுகைகளும் உள்ளது.
பகிர்விற்கு நன்றி.

February 3rd, 2013 at 18:55
injamaven
  7  

You’ve convinced me. I’m happy to have all these Tirthankara images also

February 7th, 2013 at 15:42
  8  

Nice article which I have ever seen. Keep writing up.

February 14th, 2013 at 12:16
Muthunarayanan
  9  

I was going through the book “Thennattu Selvangal” a compilation of the drawings of the great artist Silpi. I came across in page 164 about a sculpture of Arthanareeswarar in Pazhayaru Somanathasamy temple with the Rishabam on the Sakthi side.

April 2nd, 2013 at 21:17
  10  

thanks Mr Muthunarayanan - will check and revert shortly. rgds vj

April 11th, 2013 at 9:58
Sasikala Devi.V
  11  

Nice sir , waiting for next , continue pl

June 11th, 2013 at 14:12

Leave a Reply

Name (required)(*)
Mail (will not be published)(*)
URI
Comment