Friday, April 22, 2016

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam – Vahanas

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam – Vahanas
The Vahanas (Vehicles on which The Lord is mounted and carried on the shoulders by devotees) are by themselves excellent pieces of architecture on wood. Wood is carved into the shapes of animals, exotic birds, sun, moon, trees etc. and elegant gold or silver plating is done on them.
The Garuda vahana, Simha vahana, Yanai vahana, Kudirai vahana, Hanumantha Vahana, Yazhi vahana, Sesha vahana, Annapakshi Vahana, Otrai and ettai Prabhai vahana are all examples of unmatched beauty. To see Lord Ranganatha mounted on them is a treat to watch especially as he moves along the streets of Srirangam inch by inch amongst a sea of devotees.
An interesting piece of history is the Yanai Vahana. An ordinary eye would describe it as an Elephant; however on a closer look one would observe that it has four tusks. A quick search on the Encarta Encyclopedia will let us know that these four-tusked elephants were known as Mastodontoidea, which are said to have evolved around 38 million years ago and became extinct about 15 million years ago when the shaggy and two tusked Mastodons increased in population.
A side entrance from Ranganayaki Shrine leads to another massive courtyard, at the end of which is yet another towering gopuram. The various Vahanas for the annual Brahmotsavam are kept in a mandapam here. The pillars in the mandapam are rich with sculptures.
The front of the mandapam is embellished with those Vijayanagar Nayak specialty horsemen fighting lions. So detailed are the sculptures that the craftsmen have left nothing to the imagination. The carvings above and below this tapestry in stone are equally rich in detail. The base depicts women in various postures. One of the pillars shows a rider, with the horse reared up, while below are a number of foot soldiers.