Mallai Olakkaneswara temple

Today we are going to see a unique structure in mallai, sadly not many go to view this amazing place, not just for its beauty but also for its great view. With the new lighthouse ( which itself was commissioned in 1887 !) offering a nice offset, lot of people do capture this structure albeit in long shots. Kind of Old vs new but its more sad since this is probably one of the most unique structures of Mallai.

Why we call it unique, is because its a structural temple and not a rock cut/cave temple like the rest of the sculpture and unlike the shore temple, its build on top of a small hillock. Today the structure is in pretty sad state – nature and the british ( using it as a lighthouse) have taken its toll on the structure. ( images courtesy British library)16891686
From the pictures you could get a good idea on the location, it can reached by climbing a flight of steps adjoining the Mahishasuramardhini cave.
But the temple is still braving the odds and has some very unique sculptures. The rajasimha lions / vyala’s are there on the corner pillars of Garbha Griham and ardha mandabam, and a few of our favorite shiva ganas – amazingly funny and endearing characters these dwarfs.( like children waiting for their dad to come back from work with trinkets)
Now the name, i learnt it after reading Mr. Swaminathan’s work on mallai ( shortly coming out as a book and a must read)

We understand that it was the practice in those days of collecting a measure of oil (Uzhakku-ennai) from the community for the permanent light of this temple. Thus it came to be called Uzhakku-Ennai-Isvarar Temple. Olakkaneswra is its corruption is a view.”
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There are three relief sculptures on the outer walls: on the south is Dakshinamurti, Siva as a teacher, heralding a practice in all Siva temple then on, Siva as the divine dancer ( visitors to Kanchi kailasanatha would recognise this )on the eastern wall and finally, on the north side, an exquisite relief of Siva subduing Ravana who had the temerity to lift Mount Kailasa.”
The beauty of this sculpture is amazing, you can still see the crescent moon gracing shiva’s locks and the scream emanating from ravana’s mouths.

Sadly our modern day Kings and their consorts have decided that these creations should be graced with their names as well. A thousand year heritage being defaced thus, cant they find better avenues to exhibit their love.

( Thanks to Mr. Swaminathan for taking the time to do the Mallai trip for Ponniyin selvan friends and pictures by Sri. Shriram, Sri. Plastics Chandra and Sri. Vinjamoor Venkatesh)

She came to life and I became metal

We have mostly seen stone sculptures till now, just taking a break to showcase another master creation – in bronze, not just any bronze but a famed chola bronze.

A chance Advt in the local Tv channel led me to go to the Asian civilizations museum in Singapore last june (07). Btw Its located just off raffles MRT across the Singapore river.

The entrance fees were not steep ( sgd 8 for adults and 4 for children) -I was greeted at the entrance itself by a large cut out of a chola bronze – an 11th C Uma Parameshwari. ( my son strikes a pose)

There were a couple of other chola bronzes ..incl one of young Sambandar dancing. There was also a beautiful stone sculpture of Subramaniar ( Chola Period).

After having seen the cutouts of the bonze, couldn’t wait to see the piece in person. So i kind of rushed through all the other exhibits and almost ran to the main hall. The piece de resistance – the Uma paramershwari idol was a special exhibit

I was stunned into silence on the viewing the exhibit. True you have often seen temple bronzes and Panchaloka idols, the small sized but delightfully detailed processional images – but to view a true
masterclass authentic chola Bronze, cast a 1000 years ago,by the lost wax method,a painstaking yet breath taking process – wherein each image is unique, crafted by the expert fingertips of the master sculptor first into bee wax, then covered is special grade sand/clay, fired then in a kiln that melts the wax, leaving the sand cast, then hot metal is poured and then the cast is broken – that’s what I meant by each image is unique.

The exquisite green sheen lent it an aura of mystic, transcendental beauty, transporting me back in time, I couldn’t just step aside, my total attention riveted and arrested,stunned,for a full ten minutes, maybe such was the greatness of the immovable object in front of me that it poured its characteristics into me,locking me into it,turning me into a statue. My bodily functions, my senses all ceased to respond, all energies focusing instead to highlight the visual overdose that was overpowering, yet casting me into a sense of sheer bliss. The magnificence of this piece was breathtaking yet at the same time poetic, a strange aura of genuine happiness, of seeing the handiwork of a gifted artist over 1000 years ago, surviving and continuing to do its duty – of blending art with spirituality, the mastery of craftsmanship – the statue was at best 2 feet in height, but the detailing was exquisite, the grace and calm of her face and love in the smile,the sharpness of her nose, offsetting the immaculate eye brows, the enchanting eyes, the lovely locks of her hair falling into rolling tresses over her shoulders, the intricate ornaments on his neck, the grace of her poise – the gentle sway accentuating the narrow waist, the beautiful and elaborate work on her lower garments,her hands and fingers bring life to the figurine, she came to life and I became metal. That is the power that a chola bronze can wield over you.

Sculpture from an Author’s perspective

I have been very fortunate to have been under the tutelage of many great souls, who lovingly embraced me and took it on themselves to educate and encourage me. Their list is long and in that long list the forerunner is Mr .Dhivakar. A master story teller and author of three superb works of historical fiction in tamil – Vamsadhara, Thirumalai Thirudan and Vichitra Chitan, i invite him to give us a history author’s perspective to sculpture.
Over to Mr.

I am sure that vijay’s effort at showcasing the art of sculpture in such a splendid manner, will resurrect this forgotten art and place it on the high pedestal that it truly deserves, for how better can we pay tribute to the greatness of these great craftsmen who managed to craft such masterpieces in the hardest stone with just a chisel and hammer.

Tamil Nadu has a had a long foray into this art form, starting from the early 6th Century, sculpture held the sway of the land till the 15th C CE dotting the landscape with thousands of temples, with brilliant sculptures, the countryside resounding with beautiful sounds of chisels hitting stone. Though the art form is still alive albeit in a much smaller spread, lending their art to the new temples that are coming up, but there still exists a wide gap between sculpture of today and then. The ancient works of art were based on strong concepts brought forward in the many myths and moral stories, sung in our literature, these amazing works were art were like moving cinescapes bringing forth the crux of the story, thereby forever etched in our memory. The sculpture would chose a good quality stone to showcase the good moral and hence his creation would stand the test of time, have stood and would still stand if not for the wanton acts of us humans. In comparison the modern works of art are bereft of this liveliness, take this new statue in a temple in Atlanta, its a beautiful work no work with excellent proportions, but something is lacking. It doesn’t move you, evoke a sense of awe inside you, for here lies the mastery of the ancients, to breathe life into stone and make it speak – stories.
The ancient sculptors were not just exhibiting their art but had a deep understanding of our culture, our heritage, literature incl devaram, thiruvaasagam, aazwar works, epics incl Mahabarath, Ramayan – they were multifaceted individuals. They had read and re read these works so as to infer the essence of these works and translate it into works of art, leaving behind a rich repository of sculpture for future generations.

Such beautiful interplay of literature with art is finding its release in this site and based on vijay’s request, i am presenting one such interesting story supported by his pictures.

Bitchandavan ( literally meaning divine beggar)
Shiva means love, shivam means old, one who has no end nor beginning,such are the many epithets that sing the praise of shiva. Shiva means nature as well. for he graced his benevolence on this world by subduing the raging Ganges which threatened to inundate the world in her fury, by catching her in his two locks of hair and then once she was truly subdued let her out as a humble stream to enrich the earth. He who has the moon as a head ornament, is also portrayed with a deer, ax, cobra , holding the flame in his hands, wearing a tiger skin dress and stamping the demon ( muyalagan), is demonic instincts also part of nature ?. How did he get to have so many items from nature as ornaments?

Generally legends and mythological stories are grounds to be threaded with care, for quite often later additions have spiced up the original versions, however there are still some left in their pristine forms –
which educate us not only of intellectual heights of those times but also give us a brief idea on the morals and lifestyles prevalent those days. And if we have the good fortune of the shivaite foursome singing the praise of these in the thevaram – thrivasagam, its a double treat. Their words were spontaneous truths encased in the best of tamil diction. One such is the humbling of the rampant pride of the saints who occupied the forests of Tharukavanam. It was due to this that Shiva adorned himself with these amazing ornaments.
From time immemorial santhana dharma has been the unwritten code so associated with religion in india and no greater souls to preach this than the great saints, who resided in the fringes of humanity, in peaceful groves inside dense forests, where their simple living served as living testaments to the faith and heights of human intelligence mixing with the divine. They were our great ancestors, who lived by the great vedas, propounding the divine knowledge of being one with
God, teaching us the right path. Their selfless yet simple life and pure devotion to God made him reside with them.

Generally speaking, the rishis /saints/ ascetics/monks are all great souls, but at times they too fall prey to the vanity of the human mind, leading to some unwanted disturbances creeping in. One such
excess was what occurred to the saints of Taarakavan.

Their single minded devotion to the vedic culture and the fact that the pure essence of the vedas bestowed on them tremendous power – to control the elements, and with great power comes great evil. They had the ascetic energy to control anything including the devas, and hence sought anything and everything from inside the vedic altar, so much so that they started ridiculing the gods, Shiva and vishnu no longer occupied their senses, for they saw no need in praying to them, for every want of theirs could be fulfilled by their innate power.

when men step out of line, nature has his better half programmed to bring him back to the right path, but the women folk of tharukavan were also so drunk on the fulfillment of their every wish, that they
too sided with their menfolk. The mortal pleasures satiated their every wish and soon they were enjoying these pleasures coming their way without much effort.

Their chastity and the power that their chastity brought on their husbands,filled their every thought. Since the multitudes shuddered to face the wrath of their chasteness, their fertile minds led them to
believe that even if Gods as shiva and vishnu did exist, they too would be powerless against them. This added to their already inflated egos.

Shiva and vishnu decided to bring this spectacle to a halt and teach them a good lesson. So shiva descended on the forest, as a charming ascetic – his brilliant golden body radiant in its nakedness, carrying just a bowl and begging the rishi wives for alms. His charm was so overpowering and the sight of his youthful body sent the women raving, for an instant even forgetting their chasteness and followed his madly.
Vishnu, at the same instant, descended as a charming enchantress, mohini – as she walked her swan step, the Rishi lusted after her, their minds loosing control over their bodies. When they both met each
other, they realised their folly.

The lady’s dropped their heads in great shame, but the rishi’s were mad with rage. immediately they summoned all their powers, and out of their sacrificial fire, they brought forth a tiger ( this was a very sinister and darkest form of yogic practise. As a last resort this was attempted by Indrajith and advised of the dire consequences by Vibeeshana it was stopped by Rama’s arrow)

Back to the forest, the evil tiger was killed by Shiva without as much as breaking a sweat and to add insult to injury, he skinned it and donned it on over his golden sheen body. Immediately the rishi’s
brought forward a horned deer with poisoned horns and a sharp axe -Shiva nonchalantly held them in his two hands. Then they brought forth poisonous cobras – which he wound around his body as ornaments. Finally, not knowing what more to do, the rishi’s threw the sacrificial fire itself at him, which he calmly caught in his begging bowl. On seeing these, their resolve was shattered and they humbly prostrated at his feet.

These deer, ax, fire etc find repeated mention in thevaram and thiruvaasagam verses.

Thus the rishis, in spite of having committed the gravest sins, falling from grace – as they were to be the examples for future generations, yet the lord did not punish them, but only reformed them with his
benevolent grace, so that we may understand the true greatness of him.For what use is the sun without his light, the fire without heat, the flower without fragrance. True sculpture too must be seen – as the confluence of art with godliness. See Bhikshadhana in this context and you would be able to truely appreciate the divine art form of sculpture.


An Intro Post on Tirukurungudi – a guest post Mr. Kannan

For all the long years that was in my motherland, i had not yet discovered by true thirst for my language, thought the love for art was there since long. It was a chance introduction of one of well wishers Sri Divakar who brought me into a forum that made me realise the beauty of my mother tongue and like a toddler learning to walk, i relearnt my mother tongue, trying to find my release through the amazing mintamil forum. I was egged on during those initial stages of just a few lines on sculpture to deeply analysing and inferring literature, bakthi and their interplay with sculpture – was catalysed by the interactions i had with Mr. Kannan. a stunning academic whose love for the language and the great devotional hymns, amazed me. As luck could have it, Mr Ashok my photographer friend came up with a set of amazing sculptures from Tirukurungudi, one look a them and i decided inorder to do justice to the mastery of these beauties, the right person to write about them would be Mr Kannan. Grateful to him for agreeing to do so and come up with such a great post in such a short duration. Read on and enjoy…..

It often amazes me! You and me look at a rock, a barren hill as stone. But an artist sees a temple inside. How else could we have those marvelous cave temples in Mamallapuram, Ajanta and Ellora?
There are plenty of stones around us. But only an artist sees God in a stone. A poetry is hidden in words. Poetry is hidden in stones as well. I shoot a butterfly on the other day. It was so beautiful that I felt that this butterfly is nothing other than a Haiku written by the flower! Can we say this? Yes! we can. Beauty and order are the
essence of creation. Whenever there is beauty there is poetry. Vijay has rightly called his blog “Poetry in Stone”.

But of course most of us don’t see a poetry in rock or a flower. We need to develop those aethetics. Tirumular a saint poet of India says that when you see a wooden elephant, at that moment you ‘see’ only an elephant and not the wood. In the same way, when you see nature, you see only the elements but not the god. This is certainly an art. To see a poetry in stone and God in everything.


Nammalvar, the poet saint of southern India expresses it in a different way. He visited Tirukurungudi. He saw God there. He saw ONLY god and nothing else. Not even the ‘seer’. Only ONE existed. He says
then “If then, how dare I call myself an entity?” I think Nammalvar is correct. After seeing these beautiful sculptures, one forgets oneself. Only the Poetry in Stone Exists.


The popular belief is that Sriman Narayanan decends now and then as Avatars on earth, as it is one of the playgrounds for him (Leela Vibhuti). Among the most popular Dasavatar (ten) Vamana is celebrated by saints and poets. As it reflects the sentiments of Tirumular and Nammalvar beautifully. Pali was a great ruler,in fact, he was referred as ‘Mapali’ the great one! All the worlds under the heaven was his (in fact, he owned the heaven as well). He naturally forgets God, the creator. This story repeats after his great grand father Hiranya who was a tyrrant and egoist. He was slayed by Vishnu for the same reason. However, Pali is also the grandson of Prakalatha, a well known devotee
of Vishnu. So, Vishnu didn’t kill him but he wanted to show him a lesson. He came as a dwarf and asked for three feet of land as alm. Without relizing the fact that he was God himself, Pali promised HIM his land. Next moment HE grew so big that the entire known universe is under one feet and the unknown universe under another feet. Even Brahma the creator of universes got baffled by this enormous BEING. He realized that HE must be the ‘real’ creator and so he washed HIS feet using water in his kamandala. The water flew in the heavens there after as “Akasa Ganga”. Later Siva brought that to earth for earthly uses. The God who resides in Tirukurungudi is none other than this
huge entity. This beautiful myth is captured in stone.


HE appeared once to the call of Gajendra. Under distress Gajendra called for help. He requested the roots of all roots to appear in front of him to remove his distress. So he called “Adi Mulame” (the
one from it everything springs, the undifferentiated ONE). Before THAT appeared everything else such as all the Devas, Trimurthi, Rishis and Munis appeared. Why? They wanted to see who THAT one was? At that moment Sriman Narayanan appeared in his Eagle cart (Garuda vahanam)
majestically. This story is depicted as poetry in stone as well.
However, the most interesting one is Krishna stealing butter. The most popular myth of India and elsewhere. Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu as well. However, with a difference. While rest of all avatars are magnificent and majestic. This one is ‘down to earth’. A playful child, mischievous to the core. Naughty and charming. Nothings escapes his charm. Not even the cattle and trees in Brindavan. Krishna is embodiment of beauty, simplicity and benevolence. He undertook major tasks for the benefit of people around him like a child play (the samhara or the destruction of evil in this avatar is unparalleled) mainly to make himself accessible to his dear ones as a child companion to play with. That’s why Krishna is accepted by everyone without cast, creed and religion. This beauty is etched on stone with the same charm in Tirukurungudi.

When poetry emerges, it charms, it enchants and it mesmerize. At that moment only poetry exists. Paranirvana, Satory, Moktsha. Don’t you feel that at this moment in this blog?

Masroor – Was this an inspiration for Angkor Wat

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.
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.
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 ?

The devote who wore slippers

Darasuram Airavateshwara temple sculpture, an amazing work of the hunter devotee of shiva, kannapar. We will see his story in more detail later, but one curious aspect of this sculpture attracted me to it. Its a splendid depiction of kannapar, the bow slung on his shoulders, the devotion in his face are brilliantly captured. But as you complete the sweep of the eye, the feet and what he wears on them startles you – a pair of lovely sandals.
Normally one would refrain from wearing footwear inside Indian temples and so too are the sculptures inside, atleast the majority of them, the exceptions being shiva as the charming ascetic – shiva bhikshadhana and kannappar. Why is he depicted wearing these sandals? to answer that we need to go back to fourth thirumurai ( thanks to Mr. V. Subramanian again for giving me this verse reference)

In short, the ardent devotee kannapar, guarding the shrine of shiva with his bow and arrow on one hand, the cooked meat ( we will see this too later) on the other hand, wearing a large slipper made of animal hide….( and so goes the description)
Now you see how intricately the sculptor has characterised each subject he worked on down to last detail.

Images courtesy

A historical graffiti

My friend Lakshmi’s blog post on graffiti below reminded me of my earlier post in mintamil forum on such acts of vandalism.

April 1819, John smith, a Captain from the Madras regiment, with his mates was hunting tigers in the forests. He came across a horse shoe shaped canyon with many caves – yes, he is the one who is credited with rediscovering Ajanta ( how could such a marvel ever get to be forgotten !!)

Admiring the marvelous creations there, he went on to inscribe his signature along with the date on the fresco painting. you can still see it there.
Yes, this made him immortal along with the paintings.

Maybe, our friends ( tanjore mani ?) consider their exploits to be parallel to the great accomplishments of our kings who conquered far off lands, and etched their praise in stone, and hence scribble their names on this magnificent creations!
This amazing wall panel of Gangai konda cholapuram has not been spared from the wanton acts of these people, who have little respect for the cultural heritage of the land they hail from, the greatness of these works. Let us try and educate these people to learn to respect art.

Back from the Crocodile’s belly

In an earlier post we saw how Hanuman came out alive from a Crocodile’s belly. Now, we are going to see another such feat.

Darasuram has some amazing miniature story board like freezes. One such depicts the Periapuranam legend of Saint Sundarar, by his infinite devotion to Lord Shiva, making a crocodile regurgitate a boy.
The story goes thus, in the town of Avinashi, two young boys, close friends just completing their 5th year, go for a swim in a nearby lake. Unfortunately a large crocodile swallows one of the boys, while the other manages to escape and return home. The loss of their dear son greatly grieved the parents and they never managed to get over the grief.

Couple of years pass and the other boy is old enough for his thread ceremony, so his family prepares for it in great fanfare, a festival atmosphere prevails with beating of the ceremonial drums etc. On seeing this the parents who had lost their young child, are reminded that if not for the unfortunate incident, their home would also be bedecked and resound with similar joy and celebrations. So great was their loss that years couldn’t lessen their lament.

To their good fortune. the great saint Sundarar had taken an invitation from his dear friend Cheraman Perumal to see him in tiruvelam. so as he was moving there from thiruvaroor, he passed through Avinashi. As he was passing the street, he heard laughter, rejoicing and all auspicious sounds from one house and from the other house he heard the heart wrenching lament. he inquired around and learnt the story of the two boys. Just then the weeping parents heard that the great saint was passing by, and they wiped their tears and being true devotees of shiva, offered their respects to him. Moved by their devotion and wanting to alleviate their suffering, the saint decided that he would resurrect their son and then only worship the god in the town’s temple. So he composed his divine verse right there, imploring the Lord – who loves his worshipers, he who dwells eternally in the minds of his followers,
he who is the start and end point of all, he who resides in this beautiful town of avinashi, please bring forth the boy on this tank bund.
Lo and behold there came the crocodile and regurgitated the boy, much to the delight of his parents and all around. Thus is the grace of the lord and his benevolence to his followers.

Thanks to Mr. V. Subramanian, for his valuable guidance with regard to the verse references.

A stone chain, bears a flower, to attract parrots

Thanks to my friend Mr. Chandrachoodan Gopalakrishnan ( who goes by the screen names ravages) got inspired to do part 2 of this amazing stone chain.
Came across a similar interesting work in Thalakkad. Thalakkad has some interesting legends and even more interesting sculptures. But today we are just admiring chains, in stone. Just look at the complexity of this creation – a single block of stone ceiling, carved delicately to show the mesmerizing curves of a four headed serpent spreading its hood and from its gentle swaying curve start a chain of stone.
But then, when we saw the Kanchipuram Varadaraja Swamy temple stone chain – we stopped short – for the sculptor not content at just sculpting a chain of stone, linked to the stone ceiling ( single piece) and not wanting to stop at that _ kind of a attempting to better your world record jump by attempting the impossible – literally goes for broke,a crowing stroke to forever leave his mark on his creation. Take a bow my unknown master sculpture, for who else can even think of attempting such. It drives me mad, how could he even try something as audacious as this .. like an artist finishing his painting with a exaggerated swagger, like a talented musician finishing his concert with a master stroke, he finishes his stone chain with a blooming flower bud and four parrots feasting on it.
Oh, man, i got to take a break after this. its mind boggling.

Great escape from a Crocodile’s belly

The story sculpted in this pillar from the Srirangam temple is quite unique. Have not come across similar depictions anywhere else. In order to appreciate this pillar sculpture we got to go and read the Ramayana.

Indrajit,the evil but extremely talented son of Ravana, hurls a magical missile at Laxmana ( Rama’s younger brother). He is mortally wounded and as per expert medical advise sought on the battlefield, the only cure is a rare herb Sanjeevani, that only grows off in a far off mountain. Hanuman jumps across the ocean in search and since he couldn’t identify the specific plant, he uproots the whole hill and brings it back ( refer to the comment by Kathie on the post on Narthamalai)

This story is known to most of us, but what other troubles did he encounter in this trip. This is what is portrayed in this pillar.

Having heard from his spies of Hanuman’s quest for the herb, ravana speedily dispatches one of trusted lieutenants – his uncle Kalameni, a demon to the foot hills of the hill. He disguised as a sage, welcomes Hanuman and since the mountain is very pure, requests him to go take a bath in the nearby pond. ( which is bewitched by a gargantuan crocodile). On stepping into the pond, he is swiftly swallowed by the crocodile. Hanuman uses his strength then to split the crocs belly and emerge, when Lo – the crocodile carcass disappears and there stands a beautiful maiden. She is Dhanyamaali, a heavenly nymph, who was cursed by dhaksha. Having heard all this, hanuman is red with rage that the false sanyaasi who delayed his quest, goes to him, drags him by his hair and kicks him – which launches him into high orbit and he flies and falls dead in the throne room of Ravana.

This is what is being depicted in this pillar. Look closely – to the left you see the sage ( just coming into the picture) pointing to the pond, then you move right to see hanuman emerging from the croc’s belly and then Dhanyamaali thanking him. Switch back to the left, lower panel – you see hanuman dragging the false sage and spanking him.

What an amazing piece of work, such detailing of the crocodile’s body, its feet, the majestic form of the emerging Hanuman ( remember this is part of the same series of pillars which we analyzed is so much detail earlier with regard to the horse rider – this is a similar pillar – you can see the hind legs of the horse coming into frame with its anklets etc)

There is another legend of someone emerging from the belly of a crocodile which is also depicted in sculpture, which we will see in the coming posts.