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Posts Tagged ‘tiger belly’

Read this as a prelude to the previous post on Pullalur…

It was well past lunch time, but Shankar showed no signs of even vaguely harboring any thoughts of lunch !! We had been in touch for quite sometime, ever since he sent some wonderful miniatures my Mondays have been filled with anticipation - of where Shankar would be visiting that weekend and what new beauties he will unearth. Such is the enthusiasm of this wonderful heritage enthusiast from Chennai. So it was a quick exchange of pleasantries over phone and we drew a short program - the highlight would be to get to the famed early Chola temple - vaguely mentioned in ASI references as ” North Arcot District. Walajapet Taluk, Tirumalpuram, Ruined Vishnu Temple”

With no further references for the actual location, but confident that we are in the right locality thanks to the train station with the same name, we started our ride on what could at best be called a cart track. The Landscape suddenly turned greener and we saw the familiar ASI green fence. Must have been repaired recently for it was in very good condition ( the fence n gate i mean) and it was locked. At a distance, we could see a very small central shrine bereft of any towering Vimanas. We chanced our luck and placing our bets on the ASI contractor’s ` work’ went around the site, but looks like the ASI picks its contractors well. There was not a inch hole ( not that we could squeeze through a ` hole’). There were quite a few village folk working the farms around the site and we tried our luck if anyone had the keys ( as is the case with many ASI sites). Finally, our patience ran out and having driven in motorcross fashion from Kanchipuram to here, we decided to rough it up. Somehow scaling gates was so easy when you were young and a ` few’ stones lighter. I made it much to delight of a group of young girls and a crowd had already gathered to witness our circus. ( I was quite taken aback at the vocabulary of these children especially with the choice tamil unspeakables they uttered. Always thought Kathi overdid it in Ayirathil oruvan !!). Some good Samaritan produced a cycle with which shankar too jumped in ( the cyclist was gone and then Shankar asks how do we go out ?? - thankfully someone produced a stool later)

Ok, back to the site. as we walked the long walk to the Shrine - the manicured lawns showed us a very very simple structure from a distance. We approached from the rear side.

entry+from+backside
first+glance+was+dissappointing

Not too impressive and how soon we jump to such conclusions ! We walked up to the front and stepped in closer.

first+look+front

Now, the Inscriptions references were so many right from Parantaka Chola times ( 907 - 955 CE) and even our beloved Sri Raja Raja as well.

http://www.whatisindia.com/inscriptions/south_indian_inscriptions/volume_22/part_2/parantaka.html
http://www.whatisindia.com/inscriptions/south_indian_inscriptions/volume_22/part_2/rajaraja_1.html

The simplicity of the shrine defied the sheer volume of gifts and endowments given to it. So we decided to go near and see - every inch was covered with scripts !!

inscriptions
inscriptions2
not+plain+walls

There was some cheer for me as well - we did find many miniature sculptures , two splendid thoranas and some real rare gems ( warrants a sequel post), but to me the greatest interest was finding the Boota gana row lining the lintel.

view+from+the+side
view+from+the+side+not+plain

Could i get lucky and spot our favorite Tiger belly in this row, i scanned each of the charming dwarfs for the familiar one..

gana+row
gana+row2
gana+row3

Towards the center of the side wall, for a second i thought i had got him

is+he+our+friend
no+false+alarm

No, it was a false alarm. it was actually one of the guys turned upside down !!

But then, towards the extreme left, yes, we were in luck. Jackpot

oh+i+can+spot+something
oh+i+can+spot+something2
spot+tiger+belly

Not one but two Tiger belly ganas.

two+tiger+bellies
tiger+belly+number1
tiger+belly+number2

Maybe, if we had seen only one, we could have stopped, but since we found two of this ( which is by the way a first - we have never seen more than one of these guys in one site so far !) , we went around to try and see if we can spot more. The back wall didn’t disappoint.

backwall
tiger+belly+number3
tigerbelly3

a jiving Tiger belly specially for us.

tiger+belly3

Three so far, can we find a fourth ? yes on the other side, we spotted a fourth tiger belly. A rich Haul for the day.

tiger+belly+number4
tigerbelly4

The indulgence in Tiger belly ganas finally getting over, we can focus on the main items in part two of the post shortly.

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Great works of art catch the eye of many. There are numerous studies, research papers, coffee table books that are brought out, thousands of people take photographs of them and a google search would through up hundreds of links. But then there are some offbeat ones, which sit nestled in pristine surroundings, seemingly still lost in time, waiting to be discovered, for their time under the Sun - or do they prefer to remain like that - in total obscurity. But then, its the question of identity - the flutter in the heart, the mist in the eye, the shiver in the goosebumps - the pride of knowing the greatness of the land you hail from. Surely, we got to take better care of them and showcase their beauty for all to see.

Such was the experience for us, as we walked past eye catching greenery and acres of land which was a visual overdose, for these days you hardly get to see the horizon with the array of high rises, suddenly a small structure came into view.

kodumbalur+moovarkoil

This is Moovar Koyil - or three temples - but hold on, there are only two vimanas left but you do get to see the base remnants of the now lost three vimana. This little gem of a masterpiece of sculptural beauty is the work of Bhuti Vikramakesari - the Irukuvel chief of the Kodumbalur clan, along with his two queens and a monastry of Kalamuka ascetics. The Kodumbalur clan, were political allies of the Cholas for a long time and this particular king was a contemporary ( can i say fiduciary or subordinate) of Sundara Chola - Parantaka II ( i can see the eye brows going up for all Ponniyin selvan fans ..Yes it is he - the father of Raja Raja Chola)

From a distance, the site does tend to fall a bit short of your expectations. But hold your horses, even inch of space of this is a treat.

from+the+otherside

Maybe to highlight that this site aims to look at things differently, i am going to start this series on the moovar koil treasures, by showing a very tiny but equally interesting sculpture - bypassing the bigger and larger beauties. I do have a vested interest in doing so, for he is one of my cute cuddly favorites.

First, to show you where he is - he is part of the bootha regai ( line of Bootha or goblin freezes)

bootha+regai
location+of+our+friend

Lets step closer and see if you can spot my friend.

location+of+tigerbelly
the+vimana+from+rear

Ok, let me narrow your search range.

bootha+regais

Oh, such a cutie -showing off his belly art.

location+of+tigerbelly
there+is+our+friend

Did you spot him, yet

another+to+our+collection
moovarkoil+tiger+belly

He does look a bit grumpy today!!

The question to us is, the bootha regai runs through the entire length of that row around the vimana, and the other vimana as well. There are many bootha ganas depicted doing various acts and many times they are repeated, but this particular fellow is unique. We found him in the Great Penance Panel in Mahabalipuram, in Pullamangai, in Srinivasnallur and now here - always just only once in the site. What is his role and why the tiger face in the belly.

Hang on for the rest of the series, when we look at the `main’ beauties from moovar koil.

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