Its been a long pending wish of mine to do this post on a truly remarkable site - Sittanavasal. For today, even a die hard enthusiast will return back with a negative feeling from a visit to Sittanavaasal - the general opinion is, its not worth the effort ?. What is there? The right question to ask is what was there? But first where is it
Its located at a distance of 58-km from Trichy is Sittanavasal, a site of an ancient Jain monastery - rock cut cave ( pandyan), couple of Jain beds, a rare inscription..and the subject of this post.
Ok ,what was there. I am not going into depth into the history of this place, but just want to showcase what we have lost out. Thanks to Sri Swaminathan and Mr. Mohandoss Ilangovan, read on for the first part of the Sittanavaasal series. Now, i see some of you already googling for information, rest a bit. There is very little on the net about what we are going to see today. Why?
Not many people recognise the name of Sittanavasal. Even fewer look at it as a art location. The minuscule number who claim to know about it, know of it from literary references or form some catchy films tunes. Apart from this not much is known of this amazing treasure trove outside of this small and shrinking band of people. It is after a dying or as of now a dead breed. When the whole world is going ga ga over modern art, its sad that no one cares for this small cave rich with art - 1000 years old. Sadder still is the fact that these stood the test of time for a thousand years, seen innumerable conquests , winds of change sweeping over the plains which they overlook, seen the British come and go, sadly, they have been ruined by the hand of man - to be true the very hands of the men from its own soil in the last 40 years. Yes, what you see is what has been left of these spectacular frescos. The paintings on the pillars of the rock cut cave are two heavenly damsels - we will try and see one of them today.
They must have been the crowning glory of south Indian art,some of the earliest frescos of South India, comparable to the beauties in Ajanta, yet they have been neglected, not just neglected but ravaged.
The amazing ladies of Srigriya have managed to live on despite all the ethnic conflict around them, while these have been destroyed. Maybe we are not worthy of being bequeathed such an inheritance - Not fit to savor these treasures.
I am going to split this post into parts and focus on the main paintings - and today we are going to see just one painting, or rather what is left of the painting.
This is what greets you now. Can you make out. can you make out anything.
Hmm, do you see the scratch marks - yes, the hand of man or rather vandals.
We are left with no authentic pictures even - just been left with a few line drawings of some great men. This rare black and white photograph gives you just an indication of what it used to look like. A couple of line drawings illustrate the great loss.
How did it look before. Catch you breath, if you have seat belts put them on. Here goes, line drawings of these amazing dancing women is what is left for us.
I tried to work some colors to imagine how she would have looked in her prime.
The grace with which she is dancing, her fluid yet confident movement rendered masterfully by the artist - such aesthetically appealing work, such perfection of form is remarkable. The sensuousness of the moment has been brilliantly captured - the slightly pouting lip, the eyes that drown you with an avalanche of emotions, the youthful grace of the maiden.
Sadly, we have allowed it to be destroyed - i thought of using the word lost, but what is lost can be found, but this is dead beyond resurrection. Shame on us.