Its the season for contest and ….Got talent shows. These shows are filled with lots of talent and lots more glitz where the participants are pitched against one another and in a sequence of exponentially increasing odds they perform mind blowing feats to arrive at the prized price. Today we are going to see a similar contest but among sculptors – in stone. The stage is the famed Nellaiappar Temple of Tirunelveli. For the record, Me and Arvind went in without much expectations hoping to be outside in time for the famed Iruttukadai shop to open !
The raised platform with a distinctly post 15th C doorguardians ( I know I know – the nucleus of the temple is dated to 7th C CE..but) didn’t evoke much of a response, initially at least.
For as we went around to the steps, the sight blew us away.
The entire block is carved out of a monolithic stone, with the doorguardian in front and an extremely complex array of pillars of differing thickness in the back, and that was not all. Row after row of astounding pillars lined up as if for inspection in a guard of honor.
To top it, these were the famed musical pillars !! each producing a distinct note ( that they have survived so long with every visitor trying to show their musical prowess on them itself is worth an applause ) , but the sheer labour that went into these stumped us.
When we say massive, we mean it. Not convinced, take a look.
and by massive, it doesn’t just mean gargantuan size alone. Take a look at the art on display !
This is not some trick sculpting, if you do not believe that its all carved out of a single block of stone. Take another look. The grain of the stone runs right through the different pillars.
There were a few more pillar clusters which seemed a bit easier on the chest and breathing ( with all the wows and ooh and aahs)
But, as in an expert rendition of carnatic music, we did not realise that the sculptor had lulled us into a false sense of mediocrity, to think that this was ordinary compared to the rest – but then, he had one or two more tricks to show us.
Watch closely towards the base. do you spot it?
Yes, when he was busy reducing the rock, he had left enough material to carve a ball inside the pillar, so designed that it cannot roll out ( also means it was not introduced later !!)
Well, i said a trick or two !! test your spotting skills
Did you spot it?
Yes, hewing a composite multiple fluted pillar that would emanate different musical notes while shaping a solid stone ball was not challenging enough for him – he sculpted a stone squirrel as well on the inside of one of the pillars.