Sunday, July 8, 2007
A fascinating ‘Art and Sculpture’ Temple on route to Nava Tirupathi Divya Desam
This is the 2nd in the series of Non Divya Desam temples (with a rich heritage). While the Mannargudi Rajagopalaswamy temple was one of ‘Azhvaar neglect’, this one is a story of ‘devotees’ neglect!!!
Located 13 kms East of Tirunelveli on the Tiruchendur highway, the Krishnapuram Venkatachalapathy temple is one that has not caught much of devotees’ attention despite boasting of one of the best ‘art and sculpture’ that can be seen in a temple in Tamil Nadu.
The temple dates back to 9th Century AD and is said to have been built by Sadasiva Nayakar. Krishna Nayakar is said to have renovated the temple in the 16th Century AD and hence the name ‘Krishna’ puram.
There are 42 sculptures, in all, at the temple, each of which just as stunning as the others.
Lets take a look at 10 of these beautiful pieces of art:
1. Manmatha and Rathi opposite to each other
One finds Rathi and Manmatha right opposite each other. Rathi’s hands are so beautifully depicted that the veins on her left wrist are clearly seen, so much so that one is tempted to actually feel the wrist to confirm if its only a sculpture and not a living person. One look at the beetal chewing Rathi leaves us with the same stunning feeling - For a minute, it seems that Rathi is actually standing there in front of us – alive- and chewing the leaves, such is the depiction. To her right, is a small bowl for her to spit the beetal leaves.
Opposite Rathi stands the 5 ½ feet Manmatha, with a bow in hand and truly handsome – The craftsmanship is of the highest order that it brings the sculpture to life.
2. Bheema, Vyakra Balaka(Shiva’s Devotees) and DharmaRaja
This is a remarkable structure of three men all from one stone. This sculpture depicts a fight between Bheema and Vyakra Balaka, with Dharma Raja presiding in to give the decision in Vyakra’s favour. One finds Dharma Raja all in peace with himself while Bheema is his arrogant self.
3. Lankan Connection- Ramayana???
The depiction of a Queen with a 3 tier crown and dressed up beautifully, that is so typical of Sri Lankar rulers, leaves one to wonder that there may have been some Lankan connect, dating back to Ramayana, with this temple. But no data is available to this effect.
4. Veera Bhadra
Veera Bhadrar sporting a big mush is seen looking down at the devotee almost sc. The veins of the Lord can be seen clearly.
5. Ramba’s Beauty
At the entrance of the temple, on the right, is Ramba – depicted with a long sharp nose and with big ear rings- something quite unique at TN temples. One can well imagine her beauty from the depiction of Ramba at this temple.
6. A Princely Karna
Two distinct pieces of depiction from the Mahabaratha days - A shining Karna with a big bow in hand (now partly broken) and a princely mushtache. This takes us back to the days when Duryodhana crowned Karna the Prince.
7. Arjuna in Penance
Right next to the Princely Karna is a (long long) bearded Arjuna in deep penance. A remarkable sight here is the long nail of Arjuna on his right hand (thumb) showing his many years of penance.
8. An elephant and a Cow in the same image
The other fascinating sculpture here is that of two animals made out of one stone. As one looks from the left, one sees an elephant lifting its tusk. From the other side,though, this same image shows us a cow- truly a terrific piece of art.
9. Queen on King’s Shoulder
A king lifts his queen on his shoulder as he fights off his enemies. The (heavy) weight of his queen stretches the king and one sees the stretched muscles on his right hand as well as the expanding ribs. The breeze lifts one part of the Queen’s saree above her head, almost in a manner of protecting her from the scorching heat.
10. King saving the abducted Prince-A chase on the horse
Another remarkable piece of architecture is that of a king who undertakes a chase on a horse to get back his abducted prince. At the battle field, one finds the angry horse leaping forward with its front legs off the ground and high in the air. The king who is slightly unsighted is seen moving to his right to grab the attention of the abductor- this is an unforgettable visual and a treat to watch.
These pieces of art leaves us rooted to this temple, at the same time wondering why this has failed to draw devotees, despite this being right on the way to the Nava Tirupathi Divya Desam.
The other fact is that this Vishnu temple is now being managed by a Saivite temple. Between 1975 and 1994, this temple was under the administration of the Tirunelveli NellaiAppar temple. For the last dozen years, this temple has been administered by the Tiruchendur temple Management.
The temple is currently being repainted in full by the Tiruchendur Temple management and will shortly wear a completely new look.
May be the TVS family, that has transformed the Nava Tirupathi temple in the last few years, should look at this temple and help preserve its rich art and sculpture.