Posts Tagged ‘Angkor’

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.

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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.

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masroor intricately carved lintel.jpg
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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.



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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The proverbial white elephant is an actual reality in Indian literature. This noble creature is the vehicle of the King of the Devas ( celestials)…Indra …. a la Zeus with his Thunderbolt. Not only is he white but has 33 heads.

Here is a depiction from a mural painting …

mural sravanabelagola.jpg

Though there are other white elephants.. the Airawatam ( Erawan in thai/cambodian culture )is said to be the most powerful of all. Described as a huge elephant with silvery white body of 33 heads, each head has 7long ivory tusks. Each of his tusk is 16 million meters long, so huge that it can house 7 large lotus ponds, within each tusk also live thousands of angels and their servants.

This massive modern sculpture greets visitors at the entrance of the Erwan Museum in Thailand.

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Without doubt its almost impossible depict this creature in stone…and hence quite rare to see the full version of Erawan elephant with 33 heads, instead, many artists prefer to draw Erawan as a 3 headed elephant instead.

The Irrawaddy River in thailand is also named after Erawan …

We find the workship of indra and airavatam among the temples of ankor,
prasat preau, siam reap …

beng malea - siam reap cambodia.jpg
indra onairavartasiam reap cambodia.jpg
indra siam reap cambodia.jpg
prasat preau vihear cambodia.jpg
siam reap cambodia.jpg
what phu khmer.jpg

In india some wonderful depictions exist…. in a cave at Bhaja not far from Mumbai that was the site of a Buddhist monastery - there is a stone relief carving showing Indra, king of the gods.

bhaja caves long shot.jpg
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He is seated upon Airavata with his thunderbolt in hand …in somnathpur.

kesava temple somnathpur.jpg

In The famous chola murals of tanjore big temple…there is airavatham…oh thats the subject of an entire new post….

Whats amazing is that the indian sculptor restricted to just one head while his cambodian couterpart depicts him with three heads.

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