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Posts Tagged ‘Rock cut cave’

Many a tourist has taken a picture having it as their backdrop. The immaculate proportions of this sculpture defy imagination. On a moonlit night one would easily mistake its silhouette for a real elephant. But what is it doing inside the `so called’ five rathas complex.

Elephant in Ratha complex.jpg

To understand this you got to understand the evolution of the humble temple towers of south India…however to make it short, we are taking you on a pictorial tour….just keep in mind that the sculptor did not just try to exhibit his art here but also wanted to educate the viewer…only 1400 years ago ! such was the knowledge pool then, that these places of worship were not confined merely to awaken religious thoughts but also served as veritable treasure houses of art, literature, theater, community etc.

Ok, back to the question .. Whats the elephant doing amidst all the art work in Mahabalipuram.

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Seeing it as you walk towards the ratha complex you cant still make out the significance.

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A few careful pointers …and you are focusing on the elephant and then the building next to it.

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front view.jpg

seeing them in isolation…no get them both into the same frame…not like that …not from the front…

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move towards the side , the rear….now does it dawn on you. ….

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yes, the style of the mandabam is called gajapristam …( Gaja – elephant, pristam – back…in sanskirt)…the greatness of this composition is the positioning of the two. Keep in mind both are carved out of live rock…and done specifically in that fashion …so that generations to come understand.

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What started off a small discussion became the seed for this post.. interestingly which should have been the first post…for what you see below is acclaimed by its creator to be the first ever such work in stone….

mahendra cave maangadapattu.JPG

Well most Indian mythological heroes are assigned some divine weapon….the bow, sword etc have their parallels across the globe, but one thing unique has been the mace…when i mean unique, not that other cultures did not have the mace, but then the depictions in ours were huge. They would give today’s Olympic weight lifting champions a complex….for their sheer size is mind boggling. Is this the imagination of later day artists…we explored and for the parallels in sculpture we go to where it all started…the mother of all caves….the foremost amoung sculptures of south India. Mahendra pallava …the self titled vichitra citha ( the many talented or weird talented)…he claims that he built a temple for the trinity without using brick, wood, metal or mortar….

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Just look at the door guardians….they seem to have that classic vivian richards swagger about them, almost mocking at us puny mortals….

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lugging aroung those monstrous maces….( watch closely you can see a cobra circling the mace)

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One bash with that is sure to knock the living daylights out of you and send you cranium into a mars orbit… for the serious enthusiast, this beauty is the Mangadapattu cave - on the vilupuram sengi main road…about 20kms from vilupuram….take a side road ( mud road) from there…you can see boards ( thank god) and its a km down the road ( if you can call it that….)

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