Sunday, 20 September 2020

Breath-taking Rangin Mahal, Bidar Fort, BIdar, Karnataka

Fine wooden work, Rangin Mahal, Bidar, KA, tripadvisor

Rangin Mahal, Bidar KA,

The town of Bidar in north Karnataka is a historical place with many monuments  as many as 30 plus, mostly Islamic structures as this part of India was once  ruled by Bhamani dynasty and subsequently by the Barid Shahi dynasty. The other places of historical importance are the Barid Shahi tombs, Takht Mahal, Gurudwara Nanak Jhira Sahib,etc. Bidar town is on a high plateau (part of the Deccan plateau) about 2200 feet above the MSL. In view of its pleasant climate, the early rulers made Bidar the capital of their sultanate. 

The Rangeen Mahal is  an integral part of the popular Bidar Fort of Bidar town, north Karnataka and it was built by  Ali Barid Shah of Baridshahi dynasty (1542 - 1580) as a security measure to protect him and the kingdom from enemies who had an eye on the fort and the kingdom. 

Rangin Mahal, Bidar Fort, Bidar, KA,

The Rangin Mahal, close to the  Gumbad Gate, is one of the best preserved sites in  this historical fort  and the striking features are the tile work, mosaics, the granite with pearl inlay works and intricately engraved outer hall wooden pillars. The palace has two floors consisting of a hall with rooms. The  six-bay hall in the palace has nicely  carved wooden  columns  that form a rectangular foyer. Inside the Mahal, the entrance to the inner rooms  has a frame of multi-colored tile work. Engraved intricately above the arch are the verses from the holy Quran. The name Rangin Mahal - colored palace is based on the beautiful wall decoration with carefully chose tiles of selective and catchy colors. With the passage of time, color of the tiles became either completely faded or removed from the site and one can see only remnants or just traces of colored tiles. traces of which still exist. As for wooden columns, they enclose convoluted capitals and intricately engraved brackets,, The various decorations, engraving, tile works, etc  are testimony to the extraordinary  skills  and innovative nature of the experienced  artisans of by-gone days.
Frescoed calligraphy Bidar fort, Bidar, India

It is worth noting that the  design of the Rangin Mahal is a blend of  both Hindu and Muslim architecture, implying the local influence.  In the basement of the building  are a series of rooms, apparently, they were meant for the palace  guards and the servants. 

Rangin Mahal, Bidar Fort, Bidar, KA

Rangin Mahal, Bidar Fort, Bidar, KA,India  tripadvisor

The Rangin  Mahal is one of the major attractions of the Bidar Fort for its amazing architecture and the ingenious workmanship and wooden carvings. The stone carvings, stucco work and the floral designs are  unique to this mahal. .Actually the palace was built by the ruler  of Bahmani  dynasty and later it was redesigned by ruler Ali Barid. Shah of Barid Shahi Dynasty.  He enhanced the beauty of the palace with embellishment and  added  the pearl work, tile work, carved wooden columns, etc.

Bidar Fort, Bidar, Karnataka

 With the establishment of the Bahmani Sultanate (1347), Bidar was occupied by Sultan Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah. Their  capital was Gulburga and during the reign of Ahmad Shah I (1422–1486) Bidar was made the capital city of Bahmani Kingdom and Ahmed Shah' rebuilt the old Fort in 1428  and beautiful buildings including madrasas, mosques, palaces and gardens. With double walled fortification, steep cliffs on the  the north and east,provide natural protection to the moat and the glacis;  from the south-east to the south-west, the walls are protected by a unique triple-channeled moat. The fort is built with laterite stone with lime mortar.. Laterite rocks produced due to chemical prolonged  chemical weathering contain iron oxide leached out from the source rock below the ground; hence they are excellent construction materials and are equally strong like hard rocks. The entire complex is being maintained by the ASI - Archaeological Survey of India.

Historical Barid Shahi Tombs of Bidar, Karnataka

Barid Shahi tomb, Bidar, Karnataka.

Barid Shahi tomb, Bidar,  

The Barid Shahi Tombs, the  historical monuments are just 3 km from Bidar railway station. (north Karnataka). Here,  you find the early rulers tombs as well. The largest tomb is that of  Barid  Ali Shahi  and it is close to the tomb of his son  Ibrahim  Barid;  they are in the sprawling garden -Ali Barid Park comprising 55 acres. It is on the other side of the road opposite to Deccan Park. They are protected monuments under the control of the ASI -  the Archaeological Survey of India, the custodian of many monuments in India, be they Hindu or Jain temples, Buddhist holy places. historical colonial buildings, Islamic structures of various types, etc.

Ali Barid Shahi tomb,Bidar, Karnataka.  Bidar, Karnataka.

Entrance to Barid Shahi  park, Bidar, Karnataka.

Frescoed calligraphy Ali Barid Shah, Bidar, KA

 The tombs in the big garden   can be accessed through  the main entrance on the south - a gateway  adorned with architectural motifs with star-shaped panels and beautiful designs. The park is the final resting place of the  Baridi Sultans of the Bidar Sultanate. Among the Barid rulers Ali was popular and had a taste for buildings. About his tomb, it is recorded, that he had it built roughly three years before his death in 1577.You have to go through the 2-story gate to reach the tomb which is 70 feet high and has a big and bulbous dome, a typical example of Islamic architecture. One can see rich floral design carved on the stone and inner part of the dome has painted tiles, besides paintings with hand  hand-made  calligraphic patterns  The  dome is supported by four pillar and the pavilion is on a high platform made of green granite and laterite stones. The structure has the tombs of Ali Barid and his wives. A small mosque is also built near the tomb which has rich decoration on the walls.

Barid Shahi tomb, Bidar, Karnataka.

The Tomb of Ali Barid Shah is one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture and beauty. The tomb of  Ibrahim Barid Shah is  right in front of Ali Barid's tomb and bears similar resemblance to that of  Ali Barid, including  flower designs,  but smaller in size.  It is  on a high platform with a number of graves spread all around. These are sixty seven graves belonging  to the royal family of Ali Barid. and many of them carry no details.  Just beyond the Park gateway is Qasim Barid Shah II Tomb. and is similar in size and architecture to that of Ali Barid Shah's tomb. The square tomb has walls with three arches each and the entrance on the southern wall. The tomb of Qasim Brid, the founder of the Barid Shahi Kingdom is close to  Qasim Barid II tomb.


Ali Barid Shah, Bidar, KA

The third ruler of the Barid Shahi dynasty, Ali Barid Shah I, son of Amir Barid I (1504–1543) was  the first to assume royal titles. He succeeded his father in 1540, and ruled until his death in 1580. They were the  rulers of the small state of Bidar (now in Karnataka state in southwestern India) from about 1487 until 1619. The Barīd family were ministers of the Muslim Bahmanī sultans of the Deccan, who in 1430 made their capital at Bidar.. When the Bahamani kingdom became disintegrated, they assumed the power. Being a man of letters,  Ali Shah nvited scholars and craftsmen from all over the Indian 

Bidar kingdon,

subcontinent to his capital. to enrich the architecture and the culture. According to the  Historians in the battle against the mighty Vijayanagara rulers he  played a logistical role in the Battle of Talikota. The Rangin Mahal within the Bidar Fort. was commissioned by him.. Bidar  stood as the smallest of the five Deccan sultanates.

Chaubara , the historical watch tower of Bidar, Karnataka

Chaubara tower, Bidar, Karnataka,

Clockt ato Chaubara tower, Bidar, Karnataka,

Located on  a plateau at an altitude of 2200 feet from the MSL overlooking the Manjira river valley in the northern part of Karnataka, the town Bidar gained popularity during the rule of  Ahmed Shah Bahman ( 1423-1436)  of Bahamani dynasty in 1429. Bidar is a famous tourist spot and thousands of visitors come here to visit the historical sites in and around this old  town 

Bidar dist. Karnataka. 

There lies in the busy part of Bidar town  a fine  majestic monument - a watch tower, 71 foot tall structure with  conical top and cylindrical bottom (circumference is 180 feet). A well preserved historical monument, from atop the tower, one can have a panoramic view of the vast expanse of an uneven plateau  The spot was  suitable for watch tower in the old times  to watch the enemy movements at far-off places. In  the past between 15th and  17th centuries  many wars broke out between neighboring kingdoms and also from other kingdoms in the north. The top of the tower can be accessed through the spiral stairway with 80 steps  built inside.  The tower that is entirely made of laterite stone (compacted and agglomerated small pebbles, grains, etc that are well cemented by iron leaching; it is a soil and rock type rich in iron and aluminum and is commonly found in hot and wet tropical areas. Laterites have rusty-red coloration, because of high iron oxide content due to  intensive and

Laterite stones

prolonged weathering of the underlying parent rock; it is part of chemical weathering) is at the  intersection of two main streets of Bidar; one  connecting  the fort to Fateh Darwaza, and the other connecting  Mangalpet to Shah Gunj Darwaza. At Bidar the tower is further strengthened by black-trap masonry and circular bands; the outer walls are thick all around built with lime-sand mortar.

Today, it serves as a clock tower. and the clock is at the top. The word ' Chaubara  (Chau and Bara which signify four directions and a fortified place) .means a  structure  facing  four directions. Believed to have been built during the pre-Islamic time, the structure has elements Islamic architecture. The lower part has 16 foot tall base with many small  arched enclosures  and the rectangular openings on the tower  were provided to allow enough light and air. circulation inside. 

 Chaubara is  different from  the grand mosque at Samarra, Unlike the former, in the latter the stairway to the top is built outside similar to  Upli Burj, the tower at Bijapur that  has the stairway  on the outside. Chaubara tower is about 2 km from the railway station.


Saturday, 19 September 2020

Restriction on women's dress is retrograde in the Indian society

Women's safety -much important.

India- dress code for girls

More often than not women's equal rights in the society, their empowerment, protests against injustice to them like denial of  entry of reproductive women in certain places of worship and a host of other social problems being faced by them  are widely discussed in the media.  A few of them have turned to be  contentious issues, getting the attention of the society as a whole.

 Roughly 7 to 8 years ago  ago certain women's colleges and schools  in some states vehemently imposed dress code for the school/college girls prohibiting them from wearing tight pants, shirts and tight skirts that might be revealing. The  managements'  contention was this would vitiate the atmosphere of the campus and they advised the girls to wear Salwar Kameez  or loose trousers, Salwar Kameez, native to Punjab, has become  a standard dress  for school and college going girls  across India. This dress code was meant to keep the girls away from men's lustful  eyes and to make the girl's life easy.   

Critics felt  that such retrogressive steps would   never work now  or in the future, besides women would get marginalized and would be tagged as weak. If women's freedom and mobility are restricted this will not reduce the crime against women which is a global menace. Rather they will be considered weal and vulnerable. If more restrictions are imposed on them, correspondingly, this will more increase the curiosity of men. In this male-dominated society, dress code for college/ school girls will not create a safer society. I would like to briefly present the following incidents that had happened in the past. 

Dress code for school teachers of Kerala?

If you think the dress code  or restriction were imposed  only on  girl students  across many states, you are wrong. Roughly,  a decade ago in the SW state of Kerala, where the literacy rate is way high, the state government gave female teachers the right to wear churidar or salwar  while on teaching duty. But the school  managements  giving priority to moral policing and modesty of girls  thought other-wise despite government regulation.  The paradox is in the majority of unaided and private  institutions run by many Hindu communities and Christian missionaries,  the unwritten rule imposed by them  was  teachers should wear sari saying it is the ‘tradition’ and ‘symbol of dignity.’ What is the rationale behind this subtle  restriction? Students ‘respect’ teachers  and hold them in esteem only when they teach wearing  sari!!

Schools like Chinmaya Vidyalayas and those run by Christian missionaries had a sari code. Their contention was there should be a visual divide or a sort of  marker between the teacher and the taught. The management felt:  “Churidar is a convenient dress. But sari is a symbol of dignity''.

Presently, I have no idea whatsoever about the dress code prevalent in the unaided schools of  Kerala.  However, the restriction on duty teachers in schools was against the government order issued  on February 4, 2008 allowing teachers to wear churidar/salwar following complaints about the discomfort of wearing saris. The order mentioned that as per Kerala Education Rules, there are no specific rules with regard to the dress code of teachers

Dress code imposed by village Panchayat in Haryana!! 

In October 2013, a few  villages in the state of Haryana in Northern India  went one step ahead  and issued judicial orders like courts. They  put a ban a host of things on girls  to prevent honor killing and mixed marriages. Khap panchayats (caste councils) in the State were quite annoyed with girls “for being the agents who pollute society and bring a bad name to the community” Jat caste forms the dominating community here. Not far away form the semi and urban areas, here  wearing a pair of jeans, going for a drive with a male friend or even talking on a mobile phone - social  behavior which is normal for any young girl just a few miles away from khap-dominated  areas - can attract serious punishment.  Rohtak and Birohar Khap panchayat  councils  took drastic steps to curtail  breach of  council-sponsored   restriction on girls. Disgusted to such an extent they  appointed  special squads of “responsible men  to spy on girls'' and present a report on them  at the next meeting. In addition, they went to the school and warned the girls ''not to break the rules in their own interest”. Being smart as they were, the girls were hoodwinking  the council  dress code restrictions by wearing  traditional dress when leaving the village. On the way they would get into  modern  dress at  a pre-arranged place before going  to School.  The khaps pressed  schools and colleges to have separate buses for boys and girls.

dress restrictions in Haryana.

Countless social activists consider the diktats of these khaps (self styled judiciary   cum village Panchayats) unethical and rooted in the medieval era. The urban elite, though talked about the equal rights of women, they did not want to confront the members of the village council. But the girls kept breaking the village rules, of course, secretly.


Village elders and their restriction on ''nightie'' during the day!!

Two year ago in the month of November 2018, an interesting scoop in the newspapers drew the serous  attention of  Indian women's society.  It was about the ban  on ''nighties'' imposed by the elders of the nondescript village -  Tokalapalli in the state of AndhraUsing public decency as a ruse, elders of this village in Nidamarru mandal in West Godavari  district banned women  from wearing nighties during the day as they invited disparaging and   humiliating remarks  from a section of men when  ventured out. To solve this menace and protect the women folks' modesty , the elders  chipped in and decided that the sight of nightie-clad women in  public places like markets, schools hospitals, etc  would be affront to the decent society. The violation of the dress ban would invite a fine of Rs.2000.  The Mandal/ village panchayat with  9 members (elected by the local community) from the Vaddi caste (mostly farm and fishing community)  passed a resolution in the meeting introducing a ban on nighties from dawn to dusk in public places within the village limit.

Ban on nightie, Andhra

After the ban there were no protests from the women folks, rather many of them welcomed the decision taken by the elders of the village. They also did  admit that they patiently had to put up with  unwanted and disgusting stare and remarks from men in the village when going out with the nightie on.

When the topic of western clothing for girls comes up for discussion invariably lots of  people put the blame on the girls  who dress themselves up in skirts or jeans. They also don't leave the movies either, because the films mostly portray modern dress clad  girls. The girls with modern dress on  are looked upon with a weird  gaze and are often  subject to  sharp criticism.  Countless old timers and conservative people in India are crying hoarse about the erosion of Indian culture and  age-old tradition. Despite the onslaught of western culture  like celebrating  Valentine day, lover's day, etc  that are new to the Indian society, a large section of women folks in the urban and rural areas  do not give up on basic ethics and cling onto  age-old  traditional dress with a touch of modernity.   The ban on  women wearing tight western clothing  is considered as a solution for sexual harassment by many. It is not the right solution, no matter what kind of political clouts the culprits have, the rapists and people doing other mischief with girls must be severely punished up to 10 years rigorous imprisonment  besides a hefty fine running into Rs, one lakh plus. In the present scenario erring men should be more subject to scrutiny. 


Friday, 18 September 2020

How does the holy sanctum of Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur, TN differ from others? - Important features

The 1010 year old Sri Bridadeewara temple, Thanjavur city,TN dedicated to God Shiva (his consort Parvati is  known as Periyanayaki Amman) is a UNESCO recognized World Heritage Monument of exceptional beauty and grandeur. Built by the famous Chola ruker Sri Rajaraja I, this huge temple is often referred to as the  Dhakshina Meru (Meru of south).In this temple thesnctum is a tall one with a hollow space above it. The tower/gopuram was built ingeniously using interlocking system that considerably  reduces the weight of the overlying structure.

The sanctum sanctorum or Garbagriha (in Sanskrit, garbha meaning womb and griha meaning house ) is traditionally  the innermost sanctuary of Hindu and Jain temples  and it is where the presiding deity in idol form (mostly carved out of stone) is reverentially enshrined as per Agama Sastras. Often referred to as Karauvarai or moolasthanam in Tamil (in Jain temple:the Mulnayaka)  literally the word means "womb chamber",  Generally, in most places across India only qualified 'priests' (pujaris) are allowed to enter this chamber and nobody  is allowed inside. Women priests are rare, and there are some exceptions.  At Haripad Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple, Kerala, the priest is an old woman from the Namboodri family. Sanctum, the most sacred and sanctified  part on the temple premises, is built with single entrance  relative to the size of deity that is placed at the center, and mostly East facing to be accessed by the Sun rays. Normally, it is devoid of a window.

Thanjavur Bihadeeswara temple, TN.

The  two-sory Sactum and the overlying  tall tower has the following distinctive features:

Brihadeeswara temple,Thanjavur, tall linga in the 2- story

01. At Brihdeeswara temple, the sanctum and the overlyng tower form one unit and the garbagriha is  at the center of the western square. Surrounded by massive walls, they  are divided into different levels by sharply cut sculptures and pilasters providing  space - deep bays and recesses. Each side of the sanctuary has a bay with iconography. The sanctorum houses  an image of the primary deity, God Shiva, in the form of a huge monolithic stone- linga measuring  8.7 m (29 ft) in height, one of the largest lingams  in India,  covering two floors. So is the awe-inspiring  tall sanctum which is one of its kind in India and the main entrance passge (east facing) is adorned with two giant sentinels -Dwarapalas on either side (which is a common featue in all Shiva and Vishnu temples). The vestibule has three stone sculptures that is intricately carved, and mural paintings. 

02. The ground floor level sanctum walls have the following sculptures:

 East wall: Lingodbhava - Shiva in standing posture, Pashupata-murti, plus two dvarapalas flanking the pathway from ardha-mandapam.

South wall: Bhikshatana - various murtis such as Virabhadra, Dakshinamurti, Kalantaka, Nataraja  plus two dvarapalas.

Sentinels, Dwarapalakas, Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur, TN

West wall: Harihara (half Shiva, half Vishnu) - Lingodbhava - Chandrashekhara without prabhavali, Chandrashekhara with prabhavali, plus two dvarapalas.

North wall: Ardhanarishvara (half Shiva, half Parvati) - Gangadhara without Parvati, Pashupata-murti, Shiva-alingana-murti, plus two dvarapalas.

03. The various forms of God Shiva here imply that he  embodies other Trinity Gods as well like Vishnu and is all pervading. In his domain, the woman shares equality on par with  the man.; hence he is Arthanarisvarar - half man and half woman.  

04. Normally, in all Dravida styled  temples,  the sanctum takes the form of a miniature vimana.

Cupola atop the tower above the sanctum, Big temple, Thanjavur. /

with a provison for covered Prthakshana path around the sanctum  from  the outer wall  of the sanctum to the end wall of the structure. Example:Srirangam Ranganather temple, Madurai Meenkshi temple, etc. But, at Brihadeeswara temple, the sri-vimana rises  up to 13 floors (total height from the ground is 216 feet).and the uncovered prathkshana path goes  around the entire structure comprising the sanctum, 2  halls on the east side,etc.

05. One can see the hollow space of the tower (gopuram) up to a much higher level from the bottom.of the sanctum. In most temples you can not see the shikara from inside the sanctum and it is a solid structure.. 

06. The center point of the murti and the center point of the cupola atop the tower lie in the same vertical axis.

sanctum, Thanjavur big temple, TNslideshare.neti n

above sanctum, hollow space in the tower, Big temple.

07. Sri Vimana has 13 floors and atop lies  a single square block of granite weighing  80 tons, and 7.77 metres (25.5 ft) side. On top of this block, at all four cordinal  corners are set pairs of Nandi, each about 1.98 metres (6 ft 6 in) by 1.68 metres (5 ft 6 in) in dimension.

08. Above the center of this granite block rises the griva, the sikhara and the finial (stupi), distinctive features of  Dravidian  Hindu temple architecture. The height of  stupi is 3.81 metres (12.5 ft) and originally  it was covered with gold (removed long ago). The cupola-shaped -sikhara at the top  weighs whooping 25 tons. Each storey of this tower is decorated with kutas and salas. 

09. The shrinking squares tower architecture of this temple is unique and the temple at  Gangaikondasolisvaram built by Rajendra Chola, son of Sri Rajaraja differs from this style.

 10. Yet another fascinating feature of the Sanctum- Shikara is the fine stone carvings of Dance Karanas 81 of the 108  postures of Natya Sastra. They are found  on the upper storey corridor wall of the aditala. The Bharathanatyam, the classical dance of Tamil Nadu and the various postures are based on the postures on display on  the upper story corridor. The various intriguing postures carved suggest the significance and the growth  of this classical Indian dance form by early 11th century during the Chola period.  

11. The garbhagriha is square in plan and is set  on a plinth. This is moulded and 0.5 metres (1 ft 8 in) thick. It consists of upapitham and adhishthanam, respectively 140 cm and 360 cm thick,_Thanjav


Kudimiyanmalai rock- cut cave Temple complex, Tamil Nadu - beautiful stone sculpture glore

Kudumiyanmalai temple near Pudukottai, TN Wikimedia Common

Kudimiyan hill, Pudukottai.

 Kudimiyanmalai temple near Pudukottai, TN

Kudimiyanmalai temple near Pudukottai, TN,

Located atop a hill in a small village of  Kudimiyanmalai about 20 km from   Pudukottai town, the dist headquarter, Tamil Nadu are two historic rock-cut cave temples, the larger one is  called    Sikkanathaswamy temple dedicated to Lord Shiva  and the small one is  Melakovil. The temple complex was built in phases by Chola, Pallava and Nayak rulers and here, there  are 100 inscriptions on the temple wall, and the ones (7th century) by Pallava ruler Mahendravarman on Music is  quite fascinating. Apparently, many of them date back to Pallava dynasty including  a big hall- mantap that has 1000 ornate grnite pillas. The rock  inscriptions on  Carnatic music in the small cave temple  is recognized as one of the earliest surviving sources of Indian music notation and  they outlay the grammatical notes of Carnatic music.  Not quite well-known outside Pudukotti dist, it is one of the fine places of worship with  a host of well-carved sculptures; it is under the control of the ASI -the Archaeological Society of India. It is listed as one of the important monuments in the state of Tamil Nadu.  
Kudimiyan malai, Pudukkutai dist.

Kudimiyanmalai temple near Pudukottai, TN.

Stone-carved sculptures aglore, the temple has impressive architecture and especially, the mantap that displays  a chariot drawn by elephant or horses has similarity with  that  of  Sarangapani (Vishnu) temple, Mela Kadambur Amirthakadeswarar Temple, Nageswaraswamy Temple (the latter two are dedicated to God Shiva) at the temple town Kumbakonam and Thyagaraja Temple, Tiruvarur town.  Each large stone sculpture is done with meticulous care and attention, Ulanglanda Perumal (Vishnu who covered heaven and earth with two strides), Veerabhthra in agora form, Ravana, the demon king of Lanka  with ten heads (implying his ten gunas) and the alluring couple - cupid Manmathan and Rathi, and Vishnu in Mohini avatar (to save God Shiva from demon Padhmasuran).  Besides one can see the ten avatars of God Vishnu  in this Shiva temple.  This temple is rife with too many stone sculptures  through out the complex, each surpassing the other in workmanship. A rare scuptural wonder is the sentinels -Dwarapalakas in this temple  give  different stare, one is smiling and the other facing north  gives a stern look.

Kudumiyanmalai temple near Pudukottai, TN

Kudumiyanmalai temple near Pudukottai, TN,

The  shrine for goddess Akinlandeswari is said to have been built by one Umayalnachi who was from Devadasi sect. She named the goddess Malaya Mangai. The main deity in the large temple is called Kudimiyan (Kudumi in Tamil means tuft or top))  for two reasons: The presiding deity is on a small hillock.  Accoding to the legend when the priest was in convesation with his would-be wife,the ruler visited the temple with out any advanced information. Taken aback, the  priest took the flower from the woman and gave it as prasad to the King. When the ruler noticed a shread of hair in the prasad,  he asked the priest who said it  was from the God's head. Upon enquiry, the priest told the king that he would show the tuft to him on the following day. When the king visited the shrine to test the veracity of priest's  explanation,   to his surprise, the  king saw the tuft on the God's head. Both the priest and the woman were in tears and thanked the deity for his timely help. Later their marriage was solemnized; hence the name Kudumiyammalai (malai in Tamil means hill).

Kudumiyanmalai  2nd cave temple near Pudukottai, TN,.

Inscriptions, Kudumiyanmalai temple near Pudukottai, TN  tripadvisor com.

This is the reason why  the  presiding deity of this temple  is  called Sikhagiriswarar. The othe small  cave temple called Melakkoil or Tirumerral is equally an interesting one. The lingam is  monolith made from the same rock. Famous  for musical inscription describing notations for the seven-stringed musical instrument 'Parivadini,' the cave temple has  exquisite pillars and portrait sculptures of Nayaka period..

Yet another impressive  feature of the small cave temple is  the  rock-cut panel depicting sixty-three Nayanmar (Tamil saints who glorified God Shiva in their hymns)) worshipping Siva and Parvati on Rishabha vaganam (Nandi/ bull mount). Unlike other temples where the 63 Nayanmars are istalled on one side, here they are depicted on two sides with the God and his consort in the middle. 

Also found in this cave temple are  Tamil-Brahmi inscription on the south-western slope of the hill taking its  antiquity to early times.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Eight popular tall Shiva Lingams in India.

Lingam or linga in Hinduism is distinctively   aniconic and a votary object  symbolic of God Shiva being a source of energy and  an emblem of generative power.   Often found set in the center of a disk-shaped object called Yoni, a female energy representation of  his consort -Parvati/Shakti, lingm - a cylindrical mass, embodies the other Trinity gods  Brahma and Vishnu, God Shiva is all pervading balancing  creation and destruction to maintain equilibrium across the universe.  This way he controls the totality of existence of the universe.  lingam is venerated in all  Shaivite temples often surrounded by other deities (murthis). In all these temples one can see his mount holy Nandi (bull) right before his shrine and also demi god Arthanarisvarar. A common icon in South India is the lingodbhavamurti, Shiva emerging out of a fiery lingam. The following eight Shiva Lingams are unusually large in size  enshrined mostly in historical temples.Some are monolith - made from a single block of stone and a few are self manifested - svayambhuva. The world's tallest Lingam at Maheswaram Shiva-Parvati temple, Kerala state is excluded and not discussed here. Refer:

01. Sidheshvar Nath Temple, Arunachal Pradesh

Shiv Lingam Sidheshvar Nath Temple,Arunal Pradesh . you tube.

Self-manifested in 2004 it was accidentally found  by a worker in a private property in the   picturesque town of Ziro in Lower Subansiri district. In the  Sidheshwar Nath Temple  are found  the idol of goddess Parvati and lord Ganesha with his trunk turning leftwards.Further details about this Shiva Lingam are not available.


02. Badavilinga Temple, Hampi – Karnataka

 Badavilinga Temple, Hampi – Karnataka

Badava Lingam Humpi, Karnataka.

The Linga is housed inside a chamber with an opening  in the front and  a  close look  at the idol will reveal the presence of  three eyes (depicting the three eyes of Shiva) carved on it. The third eye is called the eye of wisdom (in Tamil Gana Kann). It is believed to have been commissioned  by a poor peasant woman, hence the name Badava -meaning local parlance. The distinctive feature is the sanctum/girbagraha is always filled with water that flows into the chamber through a channel connected to a water source. This huge lingam is  made from monolithic black stone.and  is close to Lakshmi Narashimha  (god Vishnu) idol.


03. Bhuteshwar Mahadev, Chhattisgarh

Bhuteshwar Mahadev, Chhattisgarh

Self-manifested, gently inclined 
 Bhuteshwar Mahadev Shiva Lingam is in the midst of a dense forest  close to  Marauda village,  Chhattisgarh  which is 3 km  from Gariaband. This place becomes vibrant  on Mahashivratri  and on Mondays, I understand the local people  Sawan  (Kawariya) visit this place. That  it this lingam  made of hard rock grows every year  is not yet corroborated.  It is a self-manifested object  gently inclined toward one side.


04. Baba Bhusandeswar Temple, Balasore, Odisha:

Baba Bhusandeswar Temple, Balasore

Baba Bhusandeswar Temple at Bhogarai village of  Balasore district,Odisha has one of the tallest Shiva Lngms in India  and it measures  12 feet long and 14 feet wide. Only half of the image is visible as it is buried in the ground for a long time. This  monolith lingam is carved out of black granite which is available in plenty. Octogonal in shape in the middle, it has  three parts. The base is about  4 feet in height.


05. Brihadeshwara Temple, Thanjavur  Tamil Nadu

Thanjavur Big temple, TN native

Huge lingam of Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur, TN

Thanjavur Brihadeeswara temple, TN, monolithic lingam

The huge Shiva Lingam is in the  tall sanctum of Brihadeeshvara Temple of Thanjavur city, TN and  is perhaps  the oldest Shiva Lingam in India. It was  installed by the Chola ruler Sri Rajarajan II with help from Siddhar Karurar more than 1000 years ago. Also called Rajarajesvaram or Peruvudaiyār Kōvil, the entire temple is made of granite related rocks and is a UNESCO recognized world heritage site along with near-by Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple and Airavatesvara temple near Kumbakonam. built by later Chola rulers who patronized God Shiva.  The monolithic lingam  is 8.7 m (29 ft) high, Occupying two story-tall  sanctum, it is one of the largest monolithic linga  in an ancient temple. in India.:The tall linga is right below the richly sculptured gopuram, tower that is 216 feet tall,_Thanjavur


06. Bhojeshwar Temple, Madhya Pradesh:

Monolith tall Shiva Lingam, Bojeswar temple,MP.

Unfinished Bojeshwar temple, Madhya

The temple' construction work that was begun in the 11th century, during the reign of the Paramara king Bhoja,  had been given up midway for unknown reasons. One reason attributed is natural disaster when the construction was in progress. From the ruins the scholars recovered the temple drawings engraved on the rocks etc and from the construction materials strewn around the temple, they understood the techniques employed by the rulers of past era..The  inscriptions on the  walls  positively suggest the date as 1035 CE    Apparently,  Raja Bhoj  built the temple between 1010 BC and 1055 BC. and it  is designated as a Monument of National Importance by the Archaeological Survey of India  (ASI). The monolithic Shivling in the sanctum is  18-feet long and it’s diameter is 7.5 feet. It is well placed in the middle of the temple with the carved columns and beautifully-decorated ceiling. It is in the  Raisen District.


07. Kotilingeshwara Temple, Karnataka:

Kotilingeshwara Templenea  KGF,

Kotilingeshwara Temple,Kammasandra,KA

Kotilingeshwara Temple in the village of Kammasandra in Kolar district, Karnataka, India. has one of the largest Shivalingams in the world.  Bhakta Manjunatha, an atheist turned Shiva Bhakta, is believed to have got  the help from the ruler  Maharaja Ambikeshwaravarma   and his family whom he insulted. He built 10 million lingams, hence the name Kotteswara.  The main attractions here are   the  huge linga measuring 108 ft (33 m) tall and  also 35 ft (11 m) tall Nandi (bull) - God Shiva's mount.surrounded by lakhs of small lingas spread over an area of 15 acres. Nandi idol is on  a  platform measuring  60 feet (18 m) in length, 40 feet (12 m) in width and 4 feet (1.2 m) in height. There are about eleven other temples for different deities on the temple premises. .Devotees can perform abhishekam  to the lingam and for this  purpose a water tank is set close to the image. Further,  if the devotees' wishes are fulfilled after making wishes here, they revisit the temple and install  a Shiva linga in their name. Prices  of lingas vary from Rs 3000 - Rs 50,000. depending on the size, decoration and material  used to make them.  It is located 6 km from KG bus stand.


08. Amareshwar Mahadev Temple:

 Amereswar Mahadev temple Pinrest

 Located at the junction of the Vindhya mountains and  and the Satpura Ranges, Amereswar Mahadev temple is an important pilgrimmage center . It is in the middle of a woodd area in a serene  environment  accentuated by fine greenery. close to the Rathambhore National park. Surprisingly, it is 1200 years old as that of  Ranthambhore Fort.  This temple is close to Sawai Madhopur.  The annual Shivaratri festival is a main event here and  is well- crowded.


1910 photo. Massive linga, Baramulla in