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Posts Tagged ‘mathangeshwara ’

Today we are being treated to an excellent travelogue by Arvind - on a little known attraction in the well visited Kanchipuram environs. Arvind is a Software professional with a fanatic interest in sculpture :-) and is currently working on bringing out an online catalogue of sculpture. He is a enthusiastic and voracious reader on sculpture apart from many other interesting passions…Read on…

Visiting Kancheepuram was a long pending item on my to do list. Though I made few visits in my school and college days, I had not visited this treasure trove for long.

The interest to visit was rekindled during my conversations with a good friend. Finally last week, made an impulsive decision to visit the place. I also gave myself the whole weekend to visit as many places as I could.
My good friend Gopinatha Srinivas readily accepted to join me for the trip.

As we were temple hopping, drunk in the beauty of the sculptures, battling the heat, we could cover Kailasandhar Kovil, Katchepawarar Kovil, Kamatchi Amman kovil and Ulagalantha Perumal Kovil on Saturday. We called it day then.

Next morning we wanted to cover as many as possible by the time the temples closed in the afternoon. We started with Ekkamabareswarar Kovil and moved on to Vaikunda Perumal Kovil. Ekkambareswarar Kovil, though huge did not have as many interesting sculptures proportionate to its size. While Vaikunda Perumal koil, was a riot. Every panel there is exquisite and was forcing us stay put.

Interestingly there are panels with Huang-San, replica of Mahabalipuram shore temple (in the Nandivarma Pallavamalla’s ascend to the throne). The panels on the praharas were filled with various coronations of the Pallava Kings. The priest there was kind enough to tell us the other temples we need to visit in the vicinity.

Mathengesawar Temple is just 200 meters away from Vaikundaperumal Koil. This should be the most well hidden temple I had come across.

strange+surroundings

The directions given to us was to take the 2nd right from where we had parked at Vaikunda perumal koil, the second right was a small lane, as we entered it, we could see a gopuram and our eagerness soared, but there was no approach from the lane we had taken. We reversed and went the next right, which happens to be a main road. As we moved along the road looking for the temple, it never came to our sight. We parked our car and started to walk back to check again, if we had missed the temple.

As we retraced our route, we caught the little ASI board and an adjacent narrow lane, which was the entrance to the temple. This lane is about 30 feet, leading to open clear space. The whole temple complex should be less than 4000 sq.ft. There is single shrine which is well elevated from the ground level. There is a nandhi opposite to the shrine and a banyan tree adjacent to it. From the looks of it the Banyan tree attracts more visitors than the temple.

mathangeshwara kanchi
nandhi+sacred+tree
nandhi

10 steps lead to the corridor of the shrine, which are quiet steep.

mathangeshwara

Central shrine houses the linga with a backdrop of Somaskanda panel, which is exquisite. Which styling is this?

somaskanda+mathangeswara
the+main+shrine

The three walls of the the shrine on the outer has some brilliant sculptures, the sandstone had lent itself for some intricate carvings.

Small and very beautiful temple, the sculptures here stays in my eyes now, and hope it would for ever. If not, I can go back to these photographs or back to Kancheepuram to see the beauty again.

Wait for part 2 - for more beauties from here and more history about it….

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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

mandagapattu leftdoor guardian
mandagapattu rightdoorguardian

Seeyamangalam

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

Dhalavanur

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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