Friday, June 3, 2016

Kailasanathar Temple, Tharamangalam – Temple Architecture

Kailasanathar Temple, Tharamangalam – Temple Architecture
This Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, which is an architectural marvel with sculptures equivalent to Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple. It attracts visitors from various parts of our country. Iraivan is Sri Kailasanathar & Iraivi is Sri Sivakami Amman. Kailasanathar Temple, which is right opposite the bus station, has a massive stone wall around it measuring 306' by 164' that was built in the thirteenth century.

The main 5-storey, 90 ft. high entrance tower is designed as a chariot on wheels, drawn by elephants and horses. The huge entrance doors of this west-facing temple are made of Vengai wood (pterocarpus marsupium). They are studded with non-rusting iron knobs, each in a different pattern. It is believed that when the enemies’ elephants come for charge they get hit by the iron knob and repel the attackers.

The door panels are decorated with wooden carvings of the incarnations of Vishnu, unusual for a Shiva temple. Intermittently, the wall is embossed with stone carvings of fish, tortoise etc., and an impressive 5-tiered gopuram (tower) welcomes devotees. The inner courtyard is spacious and is surrounded by a pillared corridor.


The traditional Nandi shrine, the vehicle of Lord Shiva, stands guard before the main temple. The temple is facing west with a 5 tier Rajagopuram. When we climb down steps through Rajagopuram Dwajasthambam, Balipeedam and Nandhi are at the entrance of sanctum Sanctorum.

In the outer prakaram Sannadhi for Sahasra Lingam, with Muruga Peruman, Brahmatheertha Vinayagar, 9 Pillar mandapa Vinayagar, Sri Avinasiappar with his consort Karunambikai. Mummudi Vinayagar is at the left side of entrance mandapam.

In the inner prakaram, Sannadhi for Pathala Lingam (below the ground with an entrance of 3X3 feet opening on the floor), Sivagamiamman, Navagrahas, Murugan Palliarai, Natarajar Saba, Oorthava Thandava Murthy, Akora Veerabhathirar, Jurakeswarar, Kala Bairavar, Siva Suryan, Saneeswarar, Sandikeswarar, Kanni Vinayagar, Aadhi lingam, Uma Devi, Naalvar, Vinayaga Peruman, Somaskanda Murthy, Sri Valli Devasena Arumugar are located.

Dwarapalakars are at the entrance of sanctum. In koshtam, Durgai, Brahma, Lingothbhavar, Dhakshinamurthy and Nardana Vinayagar are located. The entrance to the inner sanctum is through a portico supported by six sumptuously carved stone pillars. The scenes of tiger hunting by princes seated on horses and accompanied by footmen are depicted very realistically and with great sensitivity. At present the pillar are covered using a metal frame for security purpose.

A pillar of Yazhi (a mythical animal combining features of the lion and the elephant) is so ingeniously carved that a stone ball (4 ' diameter) in its mouth can be freely rolled but cannot be rolled out. The wooden doors of the portico are adorned with twenty four panels of excellent carving, some of which have been vandalized. The motifs for these carvings are drawn from the divine exploits of Siva and scenes from the daily lives of ordinary people.

The great hall is a fine gallery of sculptures of men, women, and Gods among which the sculpture of the voluptuous rishi Pathini (sage’s wife) is notable. The different expressions of rishi Pathini are shown very beautifully. In this The Rishi Pathini is confused whether to protect her fruit from the parrot which is about to pick it up or to dress her bottom which is in the state to fall down. Each and every detail of her accessory is also shown by the delicate carving. In the next sculpture sadness and aggression would have been shown in Rishi Pathini’s face as the parrot has taken away the fruit which she was having in her hand.

Another remarkable sculpture is the dance of 18 armed Lord Shiva (Nataraja). The scene of Lord Shiva picking up his fallen earring from the ground with his foot and placing it back to his ears is beautifully carved out. The human anatomy has been studied and understood so well during those periods. The minute detailing of the nerves projecting out in that position has been clearly observed the sculpture has been carved out so amazingly.

In the next sculpture the expressions of Lord Shiva and Parvathi where Lord Parvathi is angry over Lord Shiva and he is trying to console her. This scene is beautifully shown by the way they have carved the position of Lord Shiva’s hand near Parvathi’s chin with a pleasing expression. And Lord Parvathi’s hand kept down with an adamant and a non-convincing expression. It is so surprising that the detailing of the fishes and under water reptiles have also been carved out in the Ganges which runs over Lord Shiva.

Sculptures on the pillars worth to see are, Rishi Pathini, Parvathy, Bikshadanar, Rishi Pathini, Mahavishnu in Mohini Avatharam, Patanjali, Viyakrapathar, Jeyamuni, Hayakkreevar, Oorthuva Thandavar, Shiva & Sakthi in anger mood, Shiva and Sakthi in peaceful mood, Maha Vishnu, Akora Veerabhathirar, Agni veerapathirarar,  Pradosha Nayagar, Dhakshinamurthy, Dwarabalagar, Sri kali, Ayannar, Manickavasakar, Brahma, Kanchi Kamakshi, Manmadan, Rathi, Thiruganasambhandar, Thirunavukarasar and Munivar perunthakai.

The Kailasanathar Temple has a unique carving of Manmathan, (Cupid) looking at Shiva and Parvathi. If you look from the side of Manmathan, both Shiva and Parvathi are visible. However, if you look from Parvathi's side, Manmathan is not visible since he is supposed to be hiding from Shiva's view.

Kailasanathar Temple’s main shrine has two subsidiary shrines in front of it that forms a central passage leading to the main shrine. A fascinating ceiling covers the space between these three shrines. The ceiling is supported by rows of stone pillars, and elegant chains carved out of solid stone hang from the capitals. The ceiling itself is covered by a stone wheel seven feet in diameter carved in the shape of an inverted open lotus with parrots and surrounded by the Gatti Mudali insignia.

A stone wheel ringed with pecking stone parrots is the highlight. It is claimed that the wheel can be freely rotated. The ceiling is supported by rows of stone pillars from whose capitals hang elegant chains carved out of solid stone. It is said that the chains were connected to the lotus in the middle from all the four side. But now due to various reasons the chain has been broken and only its remains which are found hanging from the ceiling. The outer walls of the innermost sanctum are covered with inscriptions. The wheel, they say, can be freely rotated. The scenes of princes seated on horses and hunting tigers with footmen accompanying them are realistically sculpted.

Also depicted at the temple is a scene from the Hindu epic Ramayana that is Vali & Sukrivan fighting, depicted on one pillar, and Lord Ram with bow and arrow aiming to kill Vali depicted on another pillar. If we look from vali’s side Lord Ram is not visible. Where in if we look from Lord Ram’s side Vali can be seen.

The main shrine stands at a level slightly below the level of the pradakshina path (circumambulatory path). This path is full of detailed sculptures of gods, goddesses and saints. There is an 18-armed sculpture of Lord Nataraja, the dancing form of Shiva. The 63 Nayanmars and 4 Nalvar saints, the teachers and poets of Shaivism, are also represented. These sculptures are in active use, glistening with oil, decorated with vermilion, and lamps burn in front of them lit by devotees.

It has a special Vinayagar statue on which if you pour water it will go to a well below it and you can't see through which the water travels through and you can hear the falling sound of the water. And the temple has a secret underground way which the king who builds the temple uses to travel to another temple called Sokkanathar temple located at Amarakundhi located 6 km from Tharamangalam.  

The outer walls of the inner most sanctums are covered with inscriptions. Several gigantic monolithic pillars of pink granite carved, polished, and ready for erection in the proposed Thousand Pillar Hall lie outside the temple. More are said to be under the ground. Before this project could be completed, Vanagamudi Gatti Mudaliyar was killed in 1667, leaving the foreground of the temple littered with ruins of a noble dream.

There is one notable thing in this temple which most of the tourist wouldn’t have noticed. For some reason while constructing this temple they have made carvings of motifs all over the temple with minute holes in it which people hardly notice. Few believe that the holes have been kept for the insects and ants to play around or to build their web in it. But the real actual reason is still not known.

There is an underground chamber and ante-chamber which can be accessed by a few steps. These chambers are only 6 feet high. There is a small stone linga, not bigger than one’s thumb. It is a linga because it stands on a substantial peeta.

Such amazingly carved out sculptures during the 17th century make today’s architects and engineers wonder. It is unfortunate that a temple having such great artistic beauty is hardly known or been recognised to the world. And it is also sad that few sculptures are covered with metallic frames due to security purpose and its minute  carving and its beauty is not been able to see properly.